SUBJECT :Smart City 

 The Centre today came out with a list of 98 cities and towns, including eight from the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh besides Union Territory Chandigarh and Delhi for development as smart cities.

The northern cities include Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar (Punjab); Karnal and Faridabad (Haryana); Dharamsala (Himachal); Chandigarh (UT); New Delhi Municipal Council area. J&K has sought more time to decide on the potential smart city. Official sources said the state wants both Jammu and Srinagar to be developed as smart city though it has only one slot in the project.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the ambitious project by announcing the criteria and guidelines for 100 smart cities to be selected through city challenge competition in June 25.

The selected cities and towns were nominated by respective states and Union Territories at the end of the first stage of “City Challenge” competition in which all urban local bodies in each state and UT were evaluated based on their financial and institutional capacities and past track record, said Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu. A population of 13 crore across these cities will be covered under the initiative.

Naidu gave details of profiles of all selected cities and towns in terms of their population and characters. Among these are 24 capital cities, 24 business and industrial centres, 18 having cultural and tourism importance, five port cities and three educational and healthcare hubs.

Eight cities — Panaji, Diu, Silvassa, Kavaratti, Dharmasala, New Town (Kolkata), Pasighat (Arunachal Pradesh) and Namchi (Sikkim) — have population up to one lakh.

Another 35 have population between one lakh and five lakh; 21 with population between five lakh and 10 lakh, 25 with population between 10 lakh and 25 lakh, five with population between 25 lakh and 50 lakh and four — Chennai, Greater Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Greater Mumbai — with population above 50 lakh.

The minister said nine capital cities — Itanagar, Patna, Shimla, Bengaluru, Daman, Thiruvananthapuram, Puducherry, Gangtok and Kolkata — failed to make it to the list, indicated the selection was not influenced by the stature or importance of the cities.

“The Centre has no role in the selection of smart cities. It was all left to the state governments,” he said.

Naidu said the selected cities would 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 20 cities for financing during this financial year. Funds could be released to these 20 cities by the end of this year, he said.

The cities to be selected in the second stage of competition would be provided with a Central assistance of Rs 200 crore each in the first year, followed by Rs 100 crore each during the next three years.

The Central Government has set aside Rs 48,000 crore for the next five years for mission. States, UTs and urban local bodies will have to make equal contributions.

Central, state government and urban local bodies will invest Rs 96,000 crore over the next five years for the smart cities, the minister said.

He said that Centre would provide around Rs 3 lakh crore under various urban initiatives.

Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh