A recent news item in The Assam Tribune had mentioned that the State government has sent a proposal to the Centre for inclusion of additional towns of Assam under the Smart City scheme. This proposal makes no sense, considering the progress of the Guwahati Smart City project so far.
It was a proud moment for the people of Assam when Guwahati featured in the first list of 20 cities selected under the Smart City scheme in 2015. It has almost been two years since the Smart City joint venture was formed and more than a year when the principal project management group was selected. But, nothing much is visible on the ground, even for projects that are relatively simple to implement under the pan city application scheme.
A report in The Economic Times in December 2017 had stated that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs was concerned over �unsatisfactory progress� in smart city projects of Guwahati and Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. The primary reason for this is not hard to find. The page on careers in the smart city website says that recruitment process will be started soon. It is highly surprising that a full-time CEO and a management team have not been finalised even after two years of formation of the smart city joint venture. It brings into question the seriousness of the State government to make the Guwahati Smart City project a success.
The present managing director is also the CEO of GMDA. He is well-known for being efficient and taking quick decisions during his tenure as Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup Metro. But, even then, it will be unfair to expect him to do full justice in executing day-to-day activities of both smart city projects and GMDA.
Instead of burdening capable administrators with additional part-time responsibilities, young and dynamic people with corporate experience should be given full-time responsibility of handling projects like this and held accountable if they fail to deliver time-bound results.
Guwahati has an inherent advantage due to its geographical location. The thrust on Guwahati has changed from being the gateway to the North East to being the gateway to the ASEAN countries. The development of Guwahati along Smart City guidelines will act as a proper catalyst for the plan to convert Guwahati and surrounding areas into a State capital region.
The authorities concerned would do well to avoid trying to enlist other cities under this scheme for the time being, and instead, focus on implementing multiple projects of Guwahati Smart City in a timely manner.