Th Harikumar Singh, Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Corporation
How is Imphal progressing on its quest to become smarter?
Imphal was selected in the fasttrack round of smart city challenges. Since then, we have formed the special purpose vehicle (SPV) and are in the process of appointing project management consultancy (PMC).
We have also initiated a few projects under the smart city proposal. To begin with, in the central business hub, we have started the construction of a new commercial complex exclusively for women entrepreneurs. We expect this project to complete in the next two years. We are also working on safeguarding our pedestrians from traffic menace. Towards this effort, we are constructing foot overbridges and subways at a few identified junctions that would ease congestion and ensure safety of pedestrians. Besides, we are constructing separate bicycle lanes. Once the PMC falls in place, we will gain traction.
Funding must be a challenge for Imphal, considering the revenue stream of its corporation?
Absolutely! We are worried about financing our envisaged projects. Honestly, compared to other municipal corporations in India, Imphal is not financially sound. At the same time, we are worried about funding from the state too. In this scenario, we are looking for investments on the public-private partnership (PPP) mode. Since we have bankable projects with sustainable revenue models, it is a winûwin situation for private players.
Meantime, we are thinking of approaching the equity market. Since the credit ratings system is underway for Imphal Municipal Corporation, we have to wait and watch. Our financial position can cause some damage to our plans on raising funds via bonds, since these ratings are crucial to raising funds from the financial market. So the option of approaching to financial market is a far-fetched dream for us. At the moment, we are focusing on PPP.
Can you put some numbers on the amount of work that Imphal Smart City is already working on?
We have projects such as multi-level car parking system with an estimated budget of Rs 20 crore. That apart, we are working on smart street lighting and smart poles system. These are some of the areas where private players can bring in their experience and invest. We feel that these projects are commercially viable and financially sustainable.
This would be the second time you have issued RFP for PMC. How is the response?
Initially in the first round, when we floated request for proposal (RFP) for PMC, we received a not-so-favourable response. In fact, we had to extend the deadline a couple of times in the first RFP. We received three responses of which two were rejected on technical grounds, which led to the cancellation of the entire bidding process of the first RFP. This compelled us to float the RFP again; however, as luck has it, around 13 to 14 PMCs have shown interest. Hopefully, it would be a competitive bidding and we should be able to pull off. By April end, we should be able to finalise the consultant.