Gangtok, April 30 (IPR): A symposium on “Urban Development in North Eastern States: Smart City Revolutions” was organised by Planning & Development Department, Urban Development Department, Government of Sikkim and Gangtok Smart City Development Limited in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Development of North East Region (DONER), Government of India here at Hotel Sinclairs in the capital today as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav: North East Festival being celebrated from 28th April, 2022 to 4th May, 2022.
Hon’ble Union Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs and Petroleum & Natural Gas, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, graced the occasion as chief guest accompanied by Minister of Urban Development and Food & Civil Supplies Departments, Government of Sikkim, Shri Arun Kumar Upreti, as the guest of honour.
The event was attended by MLA, Tadong cum Advisor, Gangtok Smart City, Shri G.T. Dhungel, Mayor, GMC, Shri N.B. Chettri, Deputy Mayor, Smt Tshering Palden Bhutia, Director, Smart Cities Mission, Shri Lal Chandama, Director, DoNER, Shri Umesh Kumar, Director, NEC, Shri Satyam Lama, and Secretary, Urban Development, Shri M.T. Sherpa, along with delegates from North Eastern Smart Cities and officials from the Centre and State.
Minister of Urban Development and Food & Civil Supplies Departments, Government of Sikkim, Shri Arun Upreti, in his address, extended warm welcome to the Union Minister and the delegates from the North Eastern States and Government of India and conveyed his gratitude to the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on behalf of the Sikkim and all other North Eastern States for implementing the smart city projects which has played a crucial role in reshaping the socio-economic conditions of cities in the North East Region. He further thanked the Government of India for selecting Gangtok as the venue for the symposium under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to commemorate 75 years of Independence of the country.
Shri Upreti stated that the State Government under the dynamic leadership of Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri P.S. Tamang has been constantly working in close coordination with the GoI to ensure that pro-people flagship projects like Smart City could be implemented to its fullest extent for fulfilling the gap in infrastructural necessities in urban areas.
Underlining the major disruption caused in the state economy owing to the Covid-19 pandemic for the last two years, Shri Upreti asserted that the Gangtok and Namchi Smart Cities remain fully committed to the Mission in pursuing the completion of work in a safe, diligent and reasonable manner and that the work progress has reached to an advanced stage despite several bottlenecks such as connectivity, inclement weather and geographical disadvantages.
Shri Upreti informed that as per the direction of Government of India, the Urban Development Department has already completed the tendering process before 31/03/2022 for all the work and are awaiting further release of fund from Government of India.
He also put forth the long standing request of the State to the Government of India for considering changing of funding pattern from 50:50 to 90:10 ratio for Smart City as in the case of other CSS for North East and Himalayan States without decreasing the plan size of mission for the State of Sikkim. He added that the revised pattern of funding would smoothly allow the State Government to meet up the State share and would enable to complete the mission as per the revised schedule of date of June 2023.
On the occasion, the Union Minister launched the Online Building Permission System (OBPS). The Online Building Permission System (OBPS) under AMRUT scheme is a transparent and effective reform mainly focused on improving service delivery with lesser human interface and more accountability for getting building plans passed. The State of Sikkim is the first State in the NE Region to have implemented the system.
Addressing the gathering, Hon’ble Union Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs and Petroleum & Natural Gas, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, recollected his first visit to the city of Gangtok in 1974 and expressed delight to have witnessed immense progress in the upgradation and development of the city over the years. He praised the State government’s efforts and added that Gangtok could notably become the lighthouse for other cities in the country.
The Union Minister announced that the GoI has agreed to amend the funding pattern to 90:10, thus ensuring that many projects in the region will reach completion. He commended the rapid progress exhibited by the Smart Cities of Gangtok and Namchi in implementing the Smart City projects worth Rs. 2,474 crores under the Smart City mission.
Reiterating the Central Government’s commitment towards connecting North East India through infrastructure and technology, he stated that the North Eastern States have become India’s areas of high growth that can fuel India’s push towards an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. He exhorted on the massive potential of the region to be the trade link between India and South East Asia in the years to come.He added that under the Modi-led government, more than 95% of the Rs. 18,849 crores budgeted have been fully utilised for development projects in the important sectors of power, water supply, health, connectivity, and education in the last eight years.
He further informed that in the Budget 2022, the Hon’ble Finance Minister announced a new scheme – Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North-East (PM-DevINE) to be implemented by the North East Council. The scheme will fund infrastructure guided by the PM Gati Shakti mission and social development projects based on the felt needs of the North East. The South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) road connectivity programme will also help in making the region more connected and accessible to the rest of the country, he added.
Shri Puri informed that in the Smart Cities Mission, 523 projects worth Rs. 13,563 crores are in various stages of development in the 10 cities of the North East region.121 projects worth Rs. 1,553 crores have already been completed with another 268 projects worth Rs. 8,507 crores under implementation. This impressive progress shows the scale of the infrastructure transformation under way in the urban areas of North Eastern India, he added.
Shri Puri also spoke about various flagship programmes of the GoI including AMRUT, Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban (SBM-U) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U) that are vital interventions in establishing a high level of basic civic infrastructure in North Eastern cities. He also congratulated the State and its Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) for achieving ODF status on all the seven ULBs in Sikkim with three ULBs also meeting ODF+ requirements under Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban.
He stated that with the recent launch of AMRUT 2.0 and SBM-U 2.0, many more urban interventions will strengthen the quality of infrastructure and service delivery in the State as well as the North East region, as a whole. He added that the launch of the OBPS today is a significant milestone in the direction of planned and scientific urban development and expressed pleasure over the software being customised to suit the local needs of the North Eastern States and their building bye-laws.
He congratulated the State Government of Sikkim and the Gangtok Municipal Corporation for being the first State to implement OBPS and commended all the agencies of the State for successfully rolling out the OBPS and Online Municipal Services in the region. He also congratulated all the Smart Cities in the North East for their enthusiasm in working towards the common goal of Smart City Mission.
The event also had a technical session which was conducted by senior professors from IIT Kharagpur, Prof. Subroto Chattopadhyay, Prof. Haimanti Banerjee and Prof. Arkapal Goswami.
Earlier, the welcome address was delivered by Secretary, Urban Development, Shri M.T. Sherpa. The vote of thanks was proposed by Nodal Officer, Smart City, Shri Dipankar Lama