Home / Industry / Infrastructure /  India launches its urban makeover plan with smart cities

New Delhi: The government on Thursday picked 20 cities, including five state capitals, to launch its larger urban makeover plan.

It proposes to invest 50,802 crore on these cities, selected through a challenge, and is the first phase of the government’s plan to set up 100 smart cities.

“For the first time in the country and perhaps in the world, investments in urban development are being made based on competition-based selection of cities," urban development minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters on Thursday.

“The results of the competition revealed the unrecognized strength of the federal structure in our country," he added.

The cities in the first list have made it to the top of the competition based on implementation framework, including feasibility and cost-effectiveness which has a weightage of 30%, followed by result orientation (20%), citizen participation (16%), smartness of proposals (10%), strategic plans (10%), vision and goals (5%), evidence-based city profiling and key performance indicators (5%) and processes followed (4%).

The cities in order of ranking are: Bhubaneswar, Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Visakhapatnam, Solapur (Maharashtra), Davanagere (Karnataka), Indore, New Delhi Municipal Council (Delhi), Coimbatore, Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh), Belagavi (Karnataka), Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana and Bhopal.

Naidu said that the real victory of the smart cities competition was the strengthening of the bottom-up approach. “The bottom-up approach, which is the key planning principle under Smart City Mission, enabled leveraging of strengths and opportunities of each city for comprehensive improvement of the built environment, local economy and quality of life of citizens," he said.

These 20 cities account for 3.54 crore people with city-wise population ranging from 2.58 lakh (New Delhi Municipal Council) to 55.78 lakh (Ahmedabad).

Bhubaneswar, which emerged on top in the city challenge, in its proposal is set to raise 525 crore from convergence of schemes and 2,563 crore from public-private partnerships (PPP). The top ten cities have proposed resources of 8,521 crore from PPP and another 4,539 crore from the convergence of different schemes.

“In its proposal, Bhubaneswar has chosen 985 acres close to the railway station and proposed complete retrofitting of the area. As a cross-section of a city it reflects a strong example that can be replicated in other cities," said Jagan Shah, director, National Institute of Urban Affairs, which is helping the government with the guidelines of the smart cities mission.

A total investment of 50,802 crore has been proposed in these selected cities and towns during the five-year period ending 2019.

From the central government, the selected cities will each be given 200 crore in the first year and 100 crore every subsequent year. Plans will be implemented by a special purpose vehicle set up for each city.

In December last year, 97 selected cities submitted their plans to the ministry. The cities were given 2 crore to prepare smart city plans with the assistance of technical and other agencies, on the basis of which the selection was done.

Though there were 100 cities in the mission, Telangana has sought time to replace Hyderabad with another city and the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh are yet to select one city each.

At least 10 out of the 20 smart cities are located in states that will hold assembly elections over the next two-and-a-half years. Among the states that will go to polls are Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Gujarat and Karnataka. These 10 cities are across the six states where the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is either in power or wants to make inroads. The party is focusing its efforts on Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and is keen on coming back to power in Karnataka. Surprisingly, no city in poll-bound West Bengal has made it to the list of smart cities.

The government has given the top performing states from the remaining 23 states and Union Territories (UTs) another chance to work on their proposals.

“We are thinking of giving the top ranking city in each of these 23 states and UTs an opportunity to upgrade their Smart City proposals in a fast-track round of competition. They will be given time till 15 April this year to submit their upgraded proposals," Naidu said.

The next round of the competition to select 40 cities will begin from 1 April this year.

“At a time when the government is pushing for urban renewal in India, the smart cities project aims to provide world-class infrastructure in Indian cities. The top 20 shortlisted cities comprise a mix of cities from all regions of India with high economic and industrial potential. Developing the project in the shortlisted cities would ensure quality infrastructure, technology-enabled services, sustainable public transport. Moreover, affordable housing, which is already a priority for the government, would receive a further boost through the project," said Sanjay Dutt, managing director, India, Cushman & Wakefield, a property consultancy firm.

“Incentivizing infrastructure development would lead to higher private participation in the formation of smart cities. Under such a scenario, the private sector, especially the infrastructure and real estate sector, could witness ample opportunities through investing in specific cities," he added.

The Smart Cities mission, a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was launched in June 2015 with the government releasing the guidelines and mission statement for the 100 Smart Cities project. The mission has been allotted a budget of 48,000 crore for five years.

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