NDMC chases Rs 200 cr Smart City fund

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has set the ball rolling for the creation of a parallel company to execute all the projects under Smart Cities Mission.

Technically termed a 'Special Purpose Vehicle,' it is akin to Delhi Metro or the Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation and will evaluate plans and release funds for NDMC's smart city ideas.

The decision was taken at NDMC's Council meeting on April 26, presided over by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Director (Projects) Neeraj Bharti told Mail Today, "All the modalities and finer details have been ironed out. The SPV's Articles of Association - which define its constitution, membership and powers - have been charted out."

"Its board will have 13 directors headed by a CEO. The first line of directors will include NDMC Chairperson Naresh Kumar; its secretary and financial advisor. Four directors will come from the central government and the state government. The Remaining five will be chosen from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) empanelled list of experts," said Bharti on the board's composition.

Besides, he informed that NDMC's proposal has already been forwarded to its guardian, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and a state-level High-powered Steering Committee (HPSC) set up under the Smart Cities scheme. "As soon as we get an approval from them, the SPV will be registered under the Companies Act, 2013," he said.

Notably, NDMC is already running late in cornering its share of Rs 200 crore funds under the Smart Cities Mission. The first instalment of aid from the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Rs 194 crore minus taxes, was to come on March 31. However, it was subject to the setting up of the SPV. Even though MoUD Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, announced the list of India's first 20 smart cities in January, including the New Delhi municipal area, it seems, the council didn't act in haste. Resultantly, the procedure to set up the SPV got caught in bureaucratic red-tape.

A senior MoUD official said, "Smaller cities like Jaipur, Udaipur, Bhopal and Indore have shown much more expediency in taking advantage of PM Narendra Modi's scheme. In fact, Odisha capital, Bhubaneswar, which ranked first in our 20 smart cities list, also became the first in acquiring an SPV. It held its first board meeting in April at which several operational decisions were taken."

An NDMC official blamed the inadvertent delay on the council's initial belief that it may not require an SPV. He said, "First, unlike other urban local bodies, we fall under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs directly.

Second, our constitution is not different from that of an SPV. Third, a dilemma ensued over how much power could be delegated to the SPV CEO and directors, and how much retained with NDMC Council."

"Following these, we requested MoUD to create a special case for us, bypassing the SPV route, and release the funds directly. However, the Centre rejected that and we had to begin discussions on it afresh," he explained.

Bharti, added, "In any case, there has been no let up on the speed of our projects due to SPV.

We have already initiated several of them under the PPP (Public Private Partnership) model, including 24x7 water and electricity supply in Lutyen's Zone, free Wi-Fi facility, smart poles, smart classrooms, etc."


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