Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday announced the names of the first 20 cities selected to be developed as smart cities under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project, with Bhubaneswar topping the list followed by Pune and Jaipur.
Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Visakhapatnam, Solapur (Maharashtra), Davanagere (Karnataka), Indore, New Delhi Municipal Council (Delhi), Coimbatore, Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh), Belagavi (Karnataka), Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana and Bhopal are also on the list.
Smart cities are projected to be equipped with basic infrastructure and will offer a good quality of life through smart solutions. Assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, robust IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation along with safety of its citizens are some of the likely attributes of these smart cities.
Modi had announced his vision to set up 100 smart cities across the country soon after his government was sworn into power in 2014.
Naidu claimed the selection process was independent of government interference and the shortlisting was done by three different panels of experts. The first 20 cities were shortlisted based on the feasibility of the proposal, cost-effectiveness, result orientation, citizen participation, strategic plan, vision and goals, among other things. The urban development ministry had received proposals for 97 cities from state governments.
Half of the 20 selected cities are from the states — Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Gujarat and Karnataka — going to elections in the next two-and-half years. Interestingly, no city or town from the poll-bound state of West Bengal featured on the list. “The selection of cities had nothing to with elections,” quipped Naidu when questioned about it.
“The results of the competition revealed the unrecognised strength of the federal structure in our country,” he said.
The other states which do not figure on the list are Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Chhattisgarh. Jammu and Kashmir has not yet chosen any city under the smart city project. Under this mission, each state will have at least one smart city.
The government will invest Rs 50,802 crore in the 20 cities and towns over five years. “Of this Rs 38,693 crore will be spent on area development and Rs 12,109 crore on 56 pan-city solutions,” Naidu said at the press conference. The investments proposed are in the range of Rs 1,049 crore (for Ludhiana) to Rs 5,099 crore (for Indore).
Naidu pointed out that the top 20 cities have proposed to “redevelop” and “retrofit” certain specific areas to be smart. Bhuwaneshwar, for instance, will retrofit and redevelop 985 acres around its main railway station in the heart of the city. Jaipur, on the other hand, has proposed to improve the visual appeal and tourism experience of its walled city area of 600 acres.
Retrofitting means the city authorities will holistically address infrastructure and other deficiencies in identified areas. Redevelopment means the authorities will demolish built up areas which are “not amenable for any intervention”.
The announcement of the first 20 cities will be followed by inclusion of 40 and 38 cities, respectively, over the next two years.
Rs 50K cr from govt
> The government will invest Rs 50,802 crore in the 20 cities and towns over five years.
> Naidu pointed out that the top 20 cities have proposed to retrofit certain specific areas to be smart. Bhubaneshwar will retrofit 985 acres around its railway station.
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