New Delhi: The centre is in the process of setting up 5-6 focus groups to function as expert committees guiding cities implementing smart city projects, to ensure their efficiency to groups such as women, the differently-abled, and young professionals, said minister for housing and urban affairs Hardeep Puri.

While issues such as accessibility and guidance may be of primary concern to the differently-abled, women have special needs in terms of security and access to employment, he added.

Participating in a a roundtable on public art organized by the Delhi Urban Arts Commission, Puri said the specific needs of different groups have to be built in during project implementation.

Although the Union government has committed Rs500 crore to each smart city, the nature of projects and who will benefit from them has been left vague in the mission guidelines in order to give more leeway to cities.

The Bureau of Indian Standards had come out with a detailed list of indicators in 2016 to define ‘smart’ and offered a mechanism to evaluate the projects being undertaken by various city governments. But the agency’s effort to define parameters for smartness got scuttled in a bureaucratic tussle.

As a replacement, the urban affairs ministry introduced the livability index ranking—the first iteration of which is expected to be announced by the middle of 2018.

Puri also announced that the final list of 10 more smart cities would be released shortly, taking the overall number to 100 proposed smart cites. “Inputs have already come in from the evaluation committee and the announcement will be made in a week or so," Puri said.

Under the Smart Cities Mission, 90 cities have so far been identified through three rounds of competition for implementing various projects. A total investment of Rs1.91 trillion has been proposed in these 90 cities.

The Union government launched the Smart Cities Mission in June 2015 with the aim of developing 100 cities across the country. The cities are selected through a city challenge competition.

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