The government on Tuesday announced that 13 more cities will be eligible for priority funding under the Smart City mission. The mission took off earlier this year with names of 20 cities being announced for funding in the first round of the inter-city competition.
The total proposed investment for the 33 cities, through Union and state governments as well as private funding, comes to Rs 80,789 crore.
While Lucknow has got the highest score, the other cities in the order of their ratings include Warangal, Dharamshala, Chandigarh, Raipur, New Town Kolkata, Bhagalpur, Panaji, Port Blair, Imphal, Ranchi, Agartala and Faridabad. These 13 are among the 98 cities that were selected for the Rs 48,000-crore mission last year.
The NDA government’s ambitious Smart City mission, launched last year, looks at applying technology to all aspects of urban infrastructure and basic service provision.
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Releasing the list on Tuesday, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said: “Smart City mission is running ahead of schedule. As per the initial plan, 40 cities were to be selected for funding during this financial year by July-August; of this we have already selected 33,” he said.
Naidu added that cities from 23 states and Union territories were given ample support to address the deficiencies in their Smart City Plans that they had prepared for the first round of competition following which the best 13 were chosen. “This has resulted in substantial improvements in the plans. The ones that still could not make the grade will get another opportunity to revise their plans and submit them for evaluation by the end of June,” said Naidu.
In a significant step, the urban development ministry has now announced that instead of the originally proposed 100 Smart Cities, now 109 cities will compete to be part of the mission. This was done so as to accommodate two cities for Jammu and Kashmir instead of the earlier allotted quota of one.
Likewise, Uttar Pradesh has been allowed to nominate 14 cities instead of 13 as was decided earlier. Seven capital cities that didn’t make the cut initially, either due to under-performance on the set indicators or due to the fact that the state could make only a limited number of nominations, have also been allowed to be Smart City contenders. These include Patna, Shimla, Itanagar, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Naya Raipur, and the newest capital city of Hyderabad in Telangana.
“As of now, the mission will be for 100 cities that perform the best. But in the coming years, if the economy improves, we might be able to accommodate all 109 cities,” said Naidu.
Just last month, J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti had met Naidu requesting him to allow both Jammu and Srinagar to be part of the mission. Poll-bound UP’s CM Akhilesh Yadav has made a similar request for inclusion of both Meerut and Rae Baraeli (the parliamentary constituency of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi). Ministry sources said that if a decision is taken for allowing all 109 cities to be part of the mission, it would mean a 10 per cent increase in funding. “The proposal will have to be sent to the cabinet as the additional requirement would be for Rs 4,500 crore,” said sources.