New Delhi: Nine more cities were nominated as smart cities by the Union government on Friday, taking the total to 99.

Announcing the list at a press conference, housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep S. Puri said that since the mission’s guidelines mandated at least one smart city in each state, a spot has been kept vacant for Shillong in case Sikkim chooses to submit a proposal for evaluation.

Only 15 of the 20 cities in the fray in round four of the smart cities challenge submitted a formal proposal, Puri said.

The nine selected cities Including Silvassa, Erode and Bareilly among others have proposed an investment of Rs1,2824 crore, of which a little over Rs10,639 crore would go into small regions within these cities which are then expected to serve as lighthouses and show the way for the rest of the city. Around Rs2,185 crore would go into wider pan-city projects.

The total proposed investment in all the 99 cities, selected over several rounds since the launch of the mission in June 2015, is estimated at Rs2,03,979 crore.

Nearly two and a half years since the start of the mission, 85 of the 90 cities selected so far have established dedicated special purpose vehicles for implementing projects, Puri said.

As of 17 January, 189 projects worth Rs2,237 crore had been completed, which is less than 2% of the overall proposed work. If the projects that are under implementation and those where tenders have been floated but work is yet to begin are included, the investment on the ground that could make a material difference to the lives of urban residents in the near future rises to Rs34,000 crore .

Puri disclosed that the central government has released about Rs9,900 crore so far to various state governments, which have cumulatively spent about Rs2,000 odd crore. Addressing questions regarding the pace of implementation, Puri said a lot of time was taken up by things like setting up special purpose vehicles. “Project implementation should be fast and changes would be visible on the ground in six months," he said.

The government also announced the commencement of field surveys for the Livability Index, which will rank all the 99 smart cities, million-plus cities and all state capitals. A total of 116 cities are expected to be ranked and rated based on 79 indicators. The entire process is expected to be funded by the World Bank and will be undertaken under the aegis of the Economist Intelligence Unit, which compiles a similar livability ranking of 140 leading cities across the world.

Apart from reconnaissance visits to all the 116 cities, field surveys would seek the opinions of over a 100,000 urban dwellers across the country to measure their satisfaction with available city services. The outcome of the exercise is expected to be released by the middle of 2018.

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