Citizens' Issues
Centre announces first 20 smart cities
These cities were chosen from 98 cities shortlisted for the 'Smart Cities Mission'. 
 
New Delhi : Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday announced the names of the first 20 cities which will be developed into smart cities in 2016.
 
These are: Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Pune (Maharashtra), Jaipur (Rajasthan), Surat (Gujarat), Kochi (Kerala), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Sholapur (Maharashtra), Davangere (Karnataka), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC, Delhi), Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh), Belagavi (Karnataka), Udaipur (Rajasthan), Guwahati (Assam), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Ludhiana (Punjab), and Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh).
 
These cities were chosen from 98 cities shortlisted for the 'Smart Cities Mission'. 
 
"These 20 cities will be the first to receive funds, hence kickstarting the process of developing them into 'smart cities'. The next two years will see the inclusion of 40 and 38 cities more," Naidu said at a press conference here.
 
"In terms of population, these 20 cities account for 3.54 crore people. A total investment of Rs.50,802 crore has been proposed in the selected smart cities and towns during the five-year period," he said.
 
"The Smart City Mission marks a paradigm shift towards urban development in the country since it is based on 'bottom up’ approach with the involvement of citizens in formulation of city vision and smart city plans and the urban local bodies and state governments piloting the mission with little say for the ministry of urban development," he added.
 
Naidu also said that the winners were from 11 states and the Union Territory of Delhi and the selection was objective and transparent based on standardized processes.
 
The minister also informed that 23 states and Union Territories who could not make it to the list of winners will get an opportunity to participate in a ‘fast track competition’.
 
"Each top ranking city form these left out states can upgrade their smart city proposals and submit them by April 15 this year for inclusion in the mission," said the minister.
 
Naidu added: "Smart cities need to be inclusive, sustainable and effective engines of growth, fulfilling the aspiration of Young India."
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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COMMENTS

Deepak Narain

9 months ago

This government has all perverted priorities. Instead of smart cities, government should first have worked to provide toilets in all households throughout the country and in all girls' schools, with enough provision to keep them clean as well. So also for providing clean drinking water everywhere including the presently crisis-ridden Latur district in Maharashtra.

Mr Jitendra

10 months ago

The criteria for Smart city and the list of cities is debatable. Take eg of Indore. It already has broadband, dedicated citybus routes for iBus, drinking water supply, connectivity with rail, air and land. So what is going to get added or change in Indore in next 5 years?

Will Indore remain what it is today with no trams or any suitable ring route mobility across city? What may end up is, during 2019 election propaganda, Indore will get named as "Indore Smart city".
I just do not get the expenditure of Rs 1000 crore per city for 100 cities.
Take one more criteria of smart city which is affordable housing. Today one row house in Indore costs Rs 27 Lakhs which is around 18 km away from city centre. Will the row house in that area cost Rs 18 lakh in 2020?

If there are no concrete answers to the above doubts raised, Smart City could result into a major scam in next 7 years.

pradeep

10 months ago

It is a good govt initiative but because of this land mafia has increased and the prices have sky rocketed. It has become impossible to buy any land.
Govt should control the land price and bring it down.

Nifty, Sensex looks directionless – Thursday closing report
If Nifty closes below7,385, it will turn weak 
 
We had mentioned in Thursday’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex are struggling to head higher and that Nifty may head higher, if it closes above 7,450. The major indices of the Indian equity markets were range-bound and closed with marginal losses. The trends of the major indices in the course of Thursday’s trading are given below:
 
Hopes of a monetary policy easing, coupled with healthy roll-over from derivatives expiry and status quo in US interest rates, slightly buoyed the Indian equity markets on Thursday. The headline indices were trading in a very narrow range, as gains made on the account of positive international sentiments were erased by caution over the sliding value of rupee and the upcoming Reserve Bank of India's (RBI's) monetary policy review. Initially, the bellwether indices opened on a flat note, ignoring positive cues from their Asian peers, firm crude oil prices and the US Fed's decision to maintain status quo in interest rates. However, the markets were able to move upwards on hopes that the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) might opt for an interest rate cut given that the US Fed maintained its status quo on key lending rates, soothing investors’ nerves. During its FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meet the US Fed gave a bearish outlook on global markets and cautioned against future financial shocks. The upward movement was slowed by low volumes and continuous selling by foreign investors. The major indices closed with marginal losses.
 
On Wednesday, the foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net sellers again. According to data with stock exchanges, FIIs divested Rs367 crore. Dabur India said on Thursday that it posted a rise of 14.7% in its net profit for the quarter ending December 2015, at Rs248.77 crore against Rs216.87 crore in the same period in 2014-15. According to the statement of unaudited standalone results posted on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the total income for the quarter under review declined to Rs1,461.60 crore from Rs1,501.78 crore last fiscal but total expenses were Rs1,193.09 crore against Rs1,254.78 crore in the same period of 2014-15. On a consolidated basis, net profit increased to Rs318.79 crore in Q3 2015-16 against Rs.283.73 crore in the last fiscal. Total income rose to Rs2,127 crore from Rs2,079.02 crore in the year ago quarter while total consolidated expenses incurred also increased to Rs1,781.07 crore from Rs1,758 crore. Dabur India closed at Rs243.20, up 2.62% on the BSE. 
 
Bharti Airtel said on Thursday that its net profit dropped 22% during the third quarter of 2015-16. The company clocked net profit of Rs1,117 crore for the third quarter of 2015-16 compared to Rs1,436 crore it posted during the corresponding quarter in 2014-15. “Our focus on acquiring quality customers has resulted in healthy net additions of 8.1 million in mobile. Our strong roll-out of 3G and 4G sites has resulted in acceleration of data usage growth to 73.3% along with data ARPU (average revenue per user) reaching Rs200,” said India & South Asia MD and CEO Gopal Vittal, in a statement. The company's revenue grew by 11.6% in Q3 on an underlying basis. Regarding its Africa operations, Airtel Africa MD and CEO Christian de Faria said: “Airtel Africa revenues grew 4.6% in Q3 on an underlying basis. Data consumption and revenues have grown by 111.6% and 40.8% respectively year-on-year.” Bharti Airtel closed at Rs291.30, down 2.22% on the BSE.
 
Chinese stocks fell again in on Thursday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closing down 2.92% at 2,655.66. 
Tokyo shares ended the choppy trading on Thursday lower as investors remained cautious ahead of Japanese central bank's decision due to be out on Friday on its monetary policy. The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average shed 122.47 points, or 0.71%
 
The top gainers and top losers of major indices of the equity markets are given in the table below:
 
 
The closing values of the major Asian indices are given in the table below:
 

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Citizens fleeced at Toll Nakas due to under reporting of vehicles paying toll
RTI activists have procured shocking information which shows that private contractors in charge of maintenance and operations of highways and expressway are extending their toll collection and bagging illegal profits. An interview with Shirodkar: 
 
Moneylife: The issue of toll charges in Maharashtra is a controversial one and you have been pursuing it meticulously through RTI? What has been the objective?
 
Sanjay Shirodkar: Time and again, documents that we have procured have shown that our hard earned money is being wasted as instead of our toll money being used for betterment of infrastructure which will make India a better country to live, is being siphoned out at various levels under the name of development of “Better Infrastructure”.
 
ML: How serious is the issue? 
 
Shirodkar: Transport community is badly hit by this. Just 10-15 years back there was no toll for most of the roads and today most of the National Highways are covered under Toll Scheme. In India there are 374 toll plazas on national highways as of today.
 
Toll has become the second largest expense of the transport community only after fuel. There are around 1 crore truck and buses are registered in India. Each national permit truck on an average pays around 4 to 5 lakh per year against toll. However, the money earned from toll is not reflecting in any of the state or central budget. 
 
Also, toll collection system is acting as an impediment to moving traffic. Despite having better roads our average usage of truck is remaining same whereas our expenses have gone up reducing their margins to all time low. A report by TCI & IIM Kolkata says “the slow truck speeds on highways and delays at toll plazas cost the country about rs.60000 crore a year.”  
 
Most importantly, the way accounts are maintained for collection of money is scandalous. Because of under reporting in number of vehicles paying toll, concessionaires are getting extended contracts to collect toll to recover their cost. In reality a road cost, which can be recovered in five years only because of under reporting, is shown as recoverable in twenty years.
 
ML: Could you elaborate on the issue of under reporting?
 
Shirodkar: On one side you see that annually there is 10% growth in number of vehicles getting registered in India but on the other side number of vehicles paying toll on highways either are remaining same or surprisingly reducing on some toll roads. And paradoxically NHAI is planning road expansion from four lanes to six lanes giving reasons that we need wider roads because traffic has increased. 
 
Even Government Audit departments have taken objection over the years about many irregularities in toll collection, traffic census, car per unit, toll calculation formula and toll rate hike. Stark examples of these are the current toll collection projects like Mumbai Entry Points, Mumbai Pune Expressway & Satara Kagal on NH4.
  
To make you more aware that in Maharashtra we have maximum number of toll plazas in the country (43) on national highways, costliest toll rates, costliest project cost with zero user facilities and shabby, pathetic & unsafe road conditions as compare to other states. You can compare Satara-Kagal project from Maharashtra and Kagal-Belgaum project from Karnataka to have an Idea.
 
Also, commuters have also been slapped with CESS on diesel and petrol besides toll.
 
ML: You also mentioned that the `Satara – Kagal project on NH 4 in Maharashtra is incomplete. Could you elaborate?
 
Shirodkar: Please note the following shocking details that we procured under RTI:
 
1. No Final Completion Certificate:- Till date this project has not been issued a Final Completion Certificate by any competent authority. (3,500 days are over in last 10 years) This is a clear cut violation of clauses 6.1 (b), 16.4, 16.5 & 32.2 mentioned in Concession Agreement signed between NHAI and MSRDC dated 4th January 2002. In spite of all these violations, Project and Toll collection is still on. I have attached copies of provisional completion certificates issued in 2005 and 2006. (attached Annex I images 4)
 
2. Illegal collection: - As a result of this, toll collection done in this project after provisional certificate expiry in 2006 (120 + 180 days) till date turns illegal.
 
3. No increase in Traffic for 10 Years:- Details of traffic census and average daily traffic published by MSRDC through the contractor, Raima Manpower Consultancy (Sept 2014), survey copy of year 2003 does not show any increase in vehicular traffic on this project highway during 2003 – 2005 – 2015 (average 10000 vehicles per day). In each such project average 5% increase per year in vehicle traffic is considered. So from 2005 by now the traffic count should have been double in 2015. (attached  Annex II images 3)
 
 
4. Actual Survey shows much higher traffic:- The survey by AJS Scale International done in Jan-Feb 2014 shows that the actual vehicle traffic was increased (25000 vehicles per day). But this was not considered anywhere not even in the current tender (2014-2016). This shows the amount of under reporting of vehicle traffic and as a result toll collection figures are happening in this project. (attached Annex III images 4)
  
On Vehicular growth in India vis-a-vis very exceptional case on Satara - Kagal road. Whereas a Survey done by AJS Scale International had indicated that vehicular growth on this particular road is around 10% Year on Year.
 
5. Discrepancy in Collection figures shown by Toll operator, MSRDC and NHAI:- Total toll collected till July 2015 published by MSRDC on their website was Rs.687 Crore & Rs.719 Crore. We could see no consistency in these figures either. Total toll collected figures till March 2014 provided by NHAI under RTI were Rs.885 Crore and Statement submitted by Konark Infrastructure, the toll collecting agency in their O & m report to NHAI which is published on NHAI website shown Rs601 Crore from 2005 to 2014. Here also we could see no consistency in these figures.  Difference of Rs.284 Crore in two statements for the same period is pretty serious. More over MSRDC July 2015 figure is very much less than NHAI 2014 figures. Considering this kind of under reporting in vehicle growth, I fear there was a loss of more than Rs.700 Crore to exchequer.  And it is continued. (attached  Annex V images 2)
 
The following table clearly shows the discrepancy in collection figures:
 
 
Latest example of under reporting. Following figures are for October 2015 published by MSRDC on their website. (attached Annex VIII images 4)
 

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COMMENTS

Param

7 months ago

i would like to understand if these contracts are fixed-bid or cost-plus. in case toll collection is less than expected, can the contractor go back to govt & seek refund? if not, why should we expect the reverse?

Sanjay Sinvhal

10 months ago

Hi. Mumbai Toll naka have stopped giving Printed rxpts with Serial Number. Now they are issuing Rxpts printed on Thermal paper with No serial number. Thus, one can't make out as to how many Rxpts were issues. Also Thermal paper fades over few days. So no proof is available that one has paid toll. This is new method of hiding underreporting. Now toll nakas can claim any amount of Rxpts issued as no serial number is printed or can be monitored during checks. Pl take up this matter urgently.

Sunil Rebello

10 months ago

Our Dear FM says he is targeting the subsidy disbursement to see that the correct money reaches the deserving people.
i wait to see when our Government will tackle this robbing every citizen of India - who is affected by the TOLL SCAM.
hope our PM is also listening

Sudharshan Katipally

10 months ago

Thank you for bringing out this day light robbery from general public hard earned money. This is mostly neglected/unnoticed, we are already paying very high road tax and these toll fees are ridiculosly priced and when we come to know that this is not reaching into public funds is really painful and shame on the govt. This should not be taken light, culprits behind this must be penalised and this must be stopped at any case.

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