Venkaiah Naidu urges States and Urban Local Bodies to rise to the smart challenge
New Delhi: Minister of Urban Development M.Venkaiah Naidu today announced a list of 98 cities and towns selected for development as smart cities. These cities and towns were nominated by respective States and Union Territories at the end of first stage of ‘City Challenge’ competition in which all the urban local bodies in each State and UT were evaluated based on their financial and institutional capacities and past track record.
After releasing the list of selected cities at a media conference, Naidu complimented States/UTs for conducting objective evaluation in the first stage of competition. He gave details of profiles of all the selected cities and towns in terms of population and characters of each city/town. He informed that:
-24 cities are capital cities;
-24 are business and industrial centres;
-18 are of cultural and tourism importance;
-5 are port cities and three are educational and healthcare hubs.
In terms of population ;
-8 have population up to one lakh. These being: Panaji, Diu,Silvassa, Kavaratti, Dharmashala, New Town
Kolkata, Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and Namchi(Sikkim)
-35 have population between one and five lakhs;
-21 cities are in the population range of five to ten lakhs;
-25 have population of above 10 lakhs and below 25 lakhs;
-5 in the range of 25 to 50 lakhs and
-Four viz., Chennai, Greater Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Greater Mumbai have population above 50 lakh.
Naidu observed that 65 small and medium towns and cities making to the list of smart city aspirants is a welcome feature since making them smart would lay good foundation for better urban management when they further expand.
The Minister informed that nine capital cities viz., Itanagar, Patna, Shimla, Bengaluru, Daman, Thiruvananthapuram, Puducherry, Gangtok and Kolkata failed to be selected and this goes to prove that the smart city selection was not influenced by the stature or importance of the cities.
Naidu informed that two more cities would be announced in due course since the Government of Jammu & Kashmir had sought more time to make up its choice while additional information was sought from the Government of Uttar Pradesh regarding the 13th smart city slot allotted to that State.
The Minister said that the 98 cities selected under Smart City Mission have a population of about 13 crore accounting for over 35% of the country’s urban population. He further said that under Smart City Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), 80% of total urban population would benefit from enhanced quality of living.
The Minister said that with the selection of almost all the cities under the Smart Cities Mission, all the selected cities will have to prepare city level Smart City Plans and these will be evaluated in the second stage of competition based on a broad set of criteria to pick up the top scoring 20 cities for financing during this financial year. Funds may be released to these 20 cities by the end of this year, he said. Others will be asked to improve upon the identified deficiencies before participating in the next two rounds of competition.
Those cities to be selected in the second stage of competition would be provided with central assistance of Rs.200 cr in the first year followed by Rs.100 cr each year during the next three years, the Minister informed.
Elaborating on the concept of Smart City, Naidu said : “ A smart city would ensue core infrastructure needed for decent living in urban areas. We are not aiming at making our urban landscape look fanciful and flashy. The prime objective is to enhance the quality of urban life by addressing deficiencies in core infrastructure. Expectations in various quarters may be high but the Mission is very practical and realistic in its intentions and objectives.”
Naidu said that making smart cities is a challenging task and States and urban local bodies have to rise to the challenge. He said that the Central Government has undertaken measures to empower them to meet the challenge through substantially enhanced central assistance and decentralizing decision making besides assisting in capacity building of urban local bodies. He informed that as against the central assistance of only Rs.36,000 cr during the 10 years of JNNURM, centre would provide about Rs.3.00 lakh crored under various new urban initiatives.
Naidu observed that the country cannot afford to miss this opportunity of recasting country’s urban landscape and the situation is ‘perform or perish’ for the States and urban local bodies.
The Minister said that formulation of new urban sector initiatives is based on ‘bottom up’ planning based on citizen consultations as desired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He thanked the Prime Minister for his sustained interest in the new urban initiatives and support.