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Construction : Civic Sense | May 2018 | Source : CW-India

"We are looking for investments in the PPP mode,"says Imphal Municipal Commissioner

Recently, at our Smart Urbanation Summit in Hyderabad, organised by Smart Cities Council India, Imphal was felicitated for being among the AMRUT cities and executing successful jobs. Now, the capital city of Manipur is laying down some smart plans, as TH Harikumar Singh, Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Corporation, shares with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN and RAHUL KAMAT...
How is Imphal progressing on its quest to become smarter?
Imphal was selected in the fast-track round of Smart City Challenges. Since then, we have formed the SPV and are in the process of appointing a project management consultant (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 be complete in the next two years. We are also working to safeguard our pedestrians from the traffic menace. Towards this effort, we are constructing foot over-bridges and subways at a few identified junctions that would ease congestion and ensure pedestrian safety. 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 inancially sound. At the same time, currently, we are worried about funding from the state too. In this scenario, we are looking for investments in the PPP mode. As we have bankable projects with sustainable revenue models, it is a win-win situation for private players.

In the meantime, we are thinking of approaching the equity market. As 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, as these ratings are crucial to raising funds from the financial market. So the option of going to financial market is a far-fetched dream for us. At the moment, we are focussing on PPP.
What is the amount of work Imphal Smart City is already working on?

We have projects such as a multi-level car parking system with an estimated budget of Rs 20 crore. That apart, we are working on smart street lighting and a smart poles system. These are some of the areas where private players can bring in their experience and invest. We feel these projects are commercially viable and financially sustainable.

Meanwhile, this would be the second time you have issued RFP for PMC. How is the response?
Initially in the first round, when we floated the request for proposal (RFP) for PMC, we received a less than 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 will be a competitive bidding and we should be able to pull off. We should be able to finalise the consultant soon.

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