In an obvious measure to grab eyeballs, the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has asked the State governments to push up implementation of “impactful” projects which will get people talking about the Smart City Mission. The Centre and the State governments together have identified 261 projects worth ₹32,600 crore under this category. Majority of these projects are in the first lot of 20 smart cities announced in January 2016. Projects have been shortlisted without any clear definition of what “impactful” means. “261 impactful projects have been identified in consultation with the States and circulated earlier vide letter dated August 16, 2017. These projects are expected to have visible and transformative impact on the various aspects of the lives of the citizens,” Secretary Durga Shankar Mishra writes in a letter addressed to all Chief Secretaries. All these projects have to be commenced by November 2017. The idea is to complete the projects in time for the next Lok Sabha polls in May 2019. The list of “impactful” projects varies from Museum of Urban History in Bhubaneswar, to Adventure Park in Udaipur, to rejuvenation of water bodies in Coimbatore, to 5 km-long heritage walk in Warangal, to conservation of built heritage in Thanjavur, to redevelopment of world-famous Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi. PPP projectsMr. Mishra, in his letter, has also urged the States to prioritise 370 projects to be completed at a cost of ₹30,000 crore, which are developed under public-private partnership. The Ministry has sent out this missive after the review of Smart Cities by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 30. He directed the Chief Secretaries to review the progress of projects on weekly basis. Since the list of first 20 smart cities came out on January 1, 2016, questions have been raised on the mission. For one, the Smart City is a misnomer, because only small pockets of the city are to be developed. The latest review of Smart City projects reveals that only 79 projects with total budget of ₹ 841 crore have been completed. Another 204 projects, with a budget of ₹ 7963 crore are under implementation. Projects worth ₹1.14 lakh crore are still on the drawing board stage. To accelerate work, the Ministry has now decided to award World Bank and AFD (Agence Francaise De Développement) funds on competitive basis. “The detailed guidelines with competition framework in this regard are under finalisation and would be circulated separately,” Mr. Mishra said in his letter.