According to reports, it seems that Pune has missed the bus for the solar city project under the central government’s smart cities mission due to the lackadaisical attitude of the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) electrical department. The civic body was not allocated the funds required to start the initiative as the authorities delayed in submission of the detailed project report (DPR) to the Centre.
Seven cities — Thane, Nagpur, Kalyan-Dombivali, Aurangabad, Nanded, Shirdi and Pune — from the state were chosen for the solar project. Few weeks ago, the Centre had sanctioned Rs 67.01crore for preparation of master plans, setting up of solar city cells, promotional activities and for introducing renewable energy projects. An additional Rs 24.16 crore was also released under the solar city programme so far. While other cities have received the funds to kick-start the initiative, PMC has been unable to get a signal penny.
About the solar city programme, Union power minister Piyush Goyal, stated in the Rajya Sabha, that Rs 7.74 crore has already been sanctioned along with an additional Rs 3.04 crore has been released for six solar cities, excluding Pune.
When asked about not receiving the funds, Shrikrishna Chaudhary, superintendent engineer and incharge of PMC’s electrical department, said, “The central government had provided a list of agencies for preparing the DPR for the solar city programme and they would have allotted funds for preparing the report along with infrastructure costs. However, we have been unable to submit it within time as there was an election code of conduct for members of Legislative Council (MLC). Now, we will take action and will get the money next time.”
PMC would have received financial support of Rs 50 lakh for preparation of the master plan and the DPR, including its implementation, for the set-up of a solar city cell and for conducting promotional activities. For this purpose, the Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI) was formed as a not-for-profit institution to implement and facilitate solar energy resources under the administrative control of the ministry of new and renewable energy.
Earlier, in 2014, the civic administration had tried to explore nonconventional source of energy by planning to install solar streetlights in slum areas. PMC was ready to spend Rs 1crore to install nearly 160 streetlights, each for the cost of Rs 62,000.