Pune is likely to receive a major chunk of the 4.5 million pounds financial assistance the UK government would provide to three smart cities -Pune, Indore and Amravati. A British delegation led by the secretary of state, Department for International Development (DFID), Government of UK, Priti Patel, held a meeting with Union minister of urban development M. Venkaiah Naidu last week. After deliberations, the India-UK joint statement mentioned that DFID would collaborate with three Indian cities -Indore, Pune and Amravati -to support their urban development goals through technical assistance, expertise sharing and business engagement. “DFID has agreed to position a Strategic Programme Management Unit as a part of the technical assistance programme for the Smart Cities Mission at central-level. It has also agreed to provide a financial assistance of 4.5 million pounds over a period of four years,“ states the release issued by the Union urban development department.
A source said Pune would get a big chunk of UK's financial aid. “Our city is leading in the implementation part of the Smart Cities Mission.So, it will be naturally the biggest claimant of the UK funds,“ he said confidently .DFID has also indicated interests to help in bringing the best UK expertise and experience to pilot smart urban solutions in the three smart cities.
PMC commissioner Kunal Kumar, also a director Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL), said, “UK has a tremendous experience and expertise in urban master planning and urban transport planning. Pune is already working with UK and we shall enhance the collaboration. Urban planning and transport are two major sectors which need transformation in the city because it will impact everyday life of citizen. During the survey , citizens have listed transport as the biggest problem.“
Kumar said, “The UK Prime Minister will be in India in November for a formal announcement of some projects and innovations in Pune will be formally announced during that period. After being selected for the Smart Cities Mission, we have been working closely with the UK government for the past six months. A master planner from UK will be on board this week.“
Kumar said PSCDCL was trying to engage the best in the world. “We must appreciate that world wants to get engaged in Pune. We know we can't cut and paste designs and projects from abroad. We have to contextualize projects considering the ground reality in Pune,“ he said.
Prerna Deshbhratar, PMC's additional municipal commissioner (special) and chief executive officer of PSCDCL, said, “The UK assistance will help in long-term in innovation and technology. We are open to ideas from anywhere. Collaboration with UK will definitely facilitate projects under the Smart Cities Mission.“
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and David Cameron met in London last November. The two Prime Ministers then had announced three UK-India city partnerships with Indore, Pune and Amaravati to support India's ambitious urban development goals through technical assistance, expertise sharing and business engagement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the flagship Smart Cities Mission into the implementation mode with the launch of 14 projects of Pune's Smart City Plan on June 25 this year, exactly a year after he had set off the mission by releasing the mission guidelines.