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Hyderabad, Warangal selected to be Smart Cities: Venkaiah releases list of 98 cities

Union minister for urban development M Venkaiah Naidu today said the Centre would spend Rs three lakh crore for development of smart cities in the country.

Releasing a list of 100 cities selected under “Smart City” scheme, Venkaiah said as per 2011 census, 98 cities have 13 crore population.

As per the list, highest number of 14 cities have been selected for development as smart cities in Uttar Pradesh followed by 12 in Tamil Nadu, seven in Madhya Pradesh, six cities in Gujarat and Karnataka, three cities in Andhra Pradesh, two each in Telangana and Bihar, he said, adding that Jammu & Kashmir sought time for selection of cities under the scheme.

Three cities Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh and two cities Greater Hyderabad and Greater Warangal in Telangana State were selected as smart cities.

Venkaiah Naidu said 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 the 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 centers; 18 are of cultural and tourism importance; five are port cities and three are educational and healthcare hubs.

In terms of population, eight cities have population up to one lakh. These are: 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 lakh and below 25 lakhs, five in the range of 25 to 50 lakhs and four viz., Chennai, Greater Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Greater Mumbai have population above 50 lakh.

Venkaiah 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. He 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.

Venkaiah Naidu informed that two more cities would be announced in due course since the Government of Jammu & Kashmir 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 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.

Naidu said 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 crore in the first year followed by Rs.100 crore each year during the next three years, the Minister informed.

Elaborating on the concept of Smart City, Vemlaoaj 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.”

Venkaiah Naidu said 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 crore during the 10 years of JNNURM, the Centre would provide about Rs 3 lakh crore under various new urban initiatives.

He observed that the country can not 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. He said formulation of new urban sector initiatives is based on ‘bottom up’ planning based on citizen consultations as desired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. He thanked the Prime Minister for his sustained interest in the new urban initiatives and support. (NSS)