New Delhi: Thirteen cities, including Lucknow, Warangal, Bhagalpur, Raipur and New Town Kolkata, have been included in the first phase of the government’s smart cities mission that had already selected 20 urban centres in January.
The other cities that have been selected in the latest round are Port Blair, Imphal, Ranchi, Panaji, Agartala, Faridabad, Chandigarh and Dharamsala.
These cities have been selected from 23 cities which took part in a fast-track competition for which revised plans had been submitted in April. This takes the number of cities selected in the first phase of the Smart Cities Mission to 33 and will expand the representation of states in the mission.
“The 13 cities have substantially improved their smart city plans by addressing the deficiencies identified in the first round of competition by ensuring better profiling of respective cities in terms of infrastructure gaps and baseline service levels, ensuring consistency between citizens’ aspirations and action plans, more feasible resource mobilization plans and coordinated and integrated picture of how individual projects will contribute to area-level changes,” urban development minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters.
The cities were selected based on the marks scored by them in the fast-track competition and the benchmarks set by the top performers in the first round of the competition in which the first 20 cities were selected from among 98 cities.
Lucknow, which stood first in the fast-track competition, improved its smart-city plan by 19%, followed by Warangal at 13% and Dharamshala by 27%.
The mission, one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet projects, was launched with the aim of developing 100 smart cities.
Two slots were vacant as the states of Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir had failed to shortlist just one city each at the time of initial submissions in December and ended up with a tie.
Meerut and Rai Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Srinagar in J&K will now be included in the smart cities mission competition. Seven capital cities, including Patna, Shimla, Naya Raipur, Itanagar, Amaravati, Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram, which had been excluded from the mission, have also been allowed to participate.
According to the initial guidelines of the mission, 20 cities were to be selected in the first round and 40 cities each in the next two financial years.
Analysts said that the increase in the number of cities selected will give the mission a more balanced approach.
“The new additions to the list of 20 smart cities are from the 23 fast-track cities which had been asked to submit their updated plans by mid April. With these additions, it is expected that the distribution of smart cities across individual states will become more balanced. However, what is more important is what kind of models individual cities will adopt for procurement and implementation,” said Arindam Guha, senior director, Deloitte.
Even as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has failed to gain secure consensus on the Goods and Services Tax Bill, Naidu, who is also the parliamentary affairs minister, on Tuesday said, “with the issues raised by the Congress party, two issues have been addressed to their satisfaction... We are engaging. We are in touch with the opposition and it is a continuous process”.
He added: “We have got a green signal from Kolkata, I hope other side (Tamil Nadu) also happens. Overall, I am confident that we have the numbers in our favour.”