The Centre on Friday announced the names of 30 more smart cities, with Thiruvananthapuram taking the first spot, followed by Naya Raipur and Rajkot. Amaravati, Patna, Srinagar, Bengaluru, Shimla, Dehradun, Aizawl and Gangtok are among the state capitals included this time in the list, which now has 89 cities under the mission to develop 100 smart cities across India.
New Town Kolkata was selected for the mission but withdrew after the West Bengal government announced its own Green City mission. Mumbai too backed out from the fray.
The Centre was expected to announce the names of 40 cities on Friday but several failed to get the minimum qualifying marks, officials said. Srinagar, Muzaffarpur and Jhansi made it to the list, while Raebareli and Meerut could not.
Urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu said that for the remaining 10 slots, a total of 20 cities will contest.
A total investment of Rs 1.91 lakh crore has been proposed for the 89 cities under the mission. In keeping with the earlier pattern of expenditure, this time too over 80 per cent of the funds that will be spent in these 30 cities would be on area-based development (ABD) of a select pocket within these cities. Of the proposed Rs 57,393 crore, the pan city spending on ICT solutions would be Rs 10,514 crore. The Area Based Development (ABD) expenditure, allowed both for infrastructure and ICT, would be Rs 46,878 crore.
In cities such as Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Shimla, Bilaspur and Tiruchirapalli, the investment on ABD would be 90 per cent or more of total funds.
The Indian Express had reported how in the 59 mission cities selected prior to this, over 80 per cent of the funds would go to only 2.7 per cent of the total land as much of the expenditure has been proposed under ABD. Reacting to the report, Naidu said that it is not true that the development under ABD component benefits only the people of that area. “It will certainly benefit other citizens as well in several ways. So whatever investments are being made under this component are for the good of the entire city…”
Naidu said that ABD accounts for over 10 per cent of the area and population in case of quite a few cities. “So, to say that government has imposed restrictions on the extent of area and population is clearly misleading aimed at creating wrong perception,” he said.
Naidu added: “Yes, under the Smart City Mission, a relatively small portion of each mission city is being chosen by the citizens and city governments for fixing the infrastructure deficit. That is how urban development has been approached in countries like the US and others.” He said that in the present list, a significant share of the investment has been proposed on affordable housing projects, school and hospital projects, redevelopment of roads and Integrated Command and Control Centres.
He pointed out that a course correction in the urbanisation model is just not possible without private investments. “Speaking against the much desired private investments on the ground that it will result in rise in user charges only reflects old mindset that made our cities reel under severe infrastructure deficit.”