The Smart Cities Mission saw the inclusion of 27 more cities from 12 states for funding on Tuesday taking the total number of cities, for which the central government immediately releases a seed money of Rs 200 crore each, to sixty.
PM Narendra Modi’s constituency of Varanasi, ranked 23rd among 27 cities, has made it to the third list released on Tuesday with poll-bound Uttar Pradesh having a total of three cities including Agra and Kanpur.
The first two lists were announced in January and May this year following rounds of inter-city competitions. The mission, launched last year, looks at application of technology to all aspects of urban infrastructure and basic service provision. With this, the total investment proposed by the 60 potential Smart Cities, largely through private funding, goes up to Rs 1.44 lakh crore.
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Maharashtra with five cities has the maximum number of entries in this round with Kalyan-Dombivli, Nagpur, Thane, Nashik and Aurangabad being now included for funding. This is followed by four from Tamil Nadu (Vellore, Tanjavur, Madurai, Salem) and Karnataka (Mangaluru, Tumakuru, Shivmogga, Hubbali-Dharwad) each. Included in the list are also cities such as Amritsar (which has topped the third round of the competition) and Jalandhar from Punjab and Kota and Ajmer from Rajasthan. The remaining cities in the list include Ujjain, Gwalior, Tirupati, Rourkela, Tumakuru, Namchi, Kohima and Vadodara.
Releasing the list, Union Minister for Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu said, “The transformational Smart City Plan is running ahead of schedule. Eighty-two projects are already under implementation by the first batch of 20 smart cities and another 113 projects will soon take off the ground. In the next one year, one would get to see smart cities taking shape.” He added that multi-lateral lending agencies such as DFID of UK, JICA of Japan, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, AFD of France, New Development Bank (BRICS Bank) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank have expressed their willingness to finance smart city plans.
Cities from 27 states have become eligible for Smart City funding so far with the mission yet to take off in the nine states and union territories of Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Naidu blamed the unrest in J&K for the delay while in Uttarakhand it has been due to the natural calamities that has stuck the region this year, he said. He added that the competition for the remaining slot of 40 cities will start early next year.
When the mission was first launched, it was to comprise of a total of 100 cities that would become eligible for funding. However, owing to political wrangling the list of the competing cities burgeoned to 109. This was done to accommodate seven capital cities that didn’t qualify earlier.