The ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP councillors of Mangaluru City Corporation repeatedly took on the Mayor Bhaskar K. in the council meeting here on Saturday saying that they have been kept in the dark on the progress of projects taken up and to be taken up under the Smart City mission.
It forced the Mayor to announce that he would call a special meeting of the council next week to discuss the projects under the mission.
Participating in the discussion, MLC Ivan D’Souza said that the Smart City mission was a failure not only in Mangaluru but in other cities in the State as well. He called the special purpose vehicles (SPVs, which are companies) floated for the implementation of the projects under the mission as “private companies” offering poor representation for the elected representatives. The SPVs were being dominated by bureaucrats. Many of the projects mooted under the mission were through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode to promote private interest, he said. The MLC questioned why foundation stones for some projects under the mission were laid in Mangaluru in a hurry even before the projects had been finalised.
Mr. D’Souza from the Congress and other members of the ruling Congress, including the former Mayor Mahabala Marla, questioned the need for spending Rs. 7.50 crore to provide a facelift to a small stretch of a well-developed road between the Clock Tower and the A.B. Shetty Circle. The stretch in question is already a concrete road. The ancillary works being taken up under the particular project included rebuilding existing inter-lock pavement, replacing street lights with decorative lights and taking up landscaping works. The councillors questioned how does the particular project would help people. “It is a mere waste of money,” the MLC said.
The former Deputy Mayor Rajendra said that the project work came to a halt five months ago, when the project deadline itself was six months. The councillors urged the Mayor to place a status report on the projects under the mission before the start of the council meeting every month as the city corporation also contributes its funds for the projects.