Minister of Urban Development M.Venkaiah Naidu today said that ‘ a Smart City is what the citizens want their city to be and the city level plans should be evolved based on extensive consultations with them. Smart City Plans will be evaluated in the second stage of City Challenge competition based on such consultations and their economic and environmental impacts.”
Venkaiah Naidu was addressing the Smart City Regional Workshop held here today for ten Northern states and Gujarat to discuss various aspects of preparation of Smart City Plans and related issues. Mayors and Municipal Chairpersons and Municipal Commissioners from cities included in Smart City Mission and Principal Secretaries of Urban Development from these states besides representatives of domestic and global technical agencies and consultants and multi-lateral lending agencies attended the workshop. The participating states and Union Territories of Chandigarh, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat accounted for 40 of the 98 smart city candidates, 201 of 482 AMRUT cities and 5 of the 12 HRIDAY cities identified so far.
The Minister said that for realizing the India growth story, the urban areas of the country need to be improved in terms of infrastructure, urban governance to enhance business and economic activity and quality of life.
Naidu urged the elected representatives and officials of the cities included in the Smart City Mission to leave behind the jubiliation over the same and face the tough challenge of making them smart, for which the clock has begun to tick. He expressed confidence that the urban landscape of the country can be recast to make urban areas more livable and more effective engines of economic growth under the epochal new beginning made under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Urban Development Minister said that a paradigm shift has been introduced to enable the success of new urban development initiatives based on the learnings of the past, including the implementation of JNNURM. Elaborating on the essential features of this new approach, Shri Naidu said, these include : Bottom-up planning based on citizen participation, complete autonomy to states and UTs in project proposal, appraisal and approval, selection of cities and towns under new urban missions based on objective criteria, convergence of different schemes to enable integrated planning and better utilization of resources for visible impact on ground and unprecedented resource support to states and urban local bodies.
Naidu informed that as against central assistance of only Rs.36,000 cr under ten year long JNNURM, the present central government has committed to spend over Rs.3.00 lakh crores on urban development during the next five to six years. Transfer of divisible revenues to the States has been increased by a whopping 10% besides enhanced assistance of Rs.64,032 cr to urban local bodies over the next five years, he said.
Seeking to motivate the Mayors, Municipal Chairpersons and Municipal Commissioners of 40 cities included in Smart City Mission, Naidu said ; “You have it in you to rise to the challenge of making these cities smart if you so desire and act accordingly. All that is needed is change of mindset and commitment to live up to people’s expectations and the desire to be remembered for what you have done instead of worrying about the next elections.”
Naidu informed the elected and executive heads of urban local bodies that the Smart City Plans to be now prepared for evaluation in the second stage of City Challenge competition will be broadly assessed for the extent and quality of citizen participation and their economic and environmental impacts. These city level plans are to be submitted to the Urban Development Ministry in the next three months for evaluation for selecting the top 20 rankers for extending financial support during the current financial year.
Differentiating between the Smart City Mission and the Atal Mission (AMRUT), Madhusudhan Prasad, Secretary (UD) said that the former is based on selection while the latter on entitlement. He stressed that “Smart City Mission is not a mere urban infrastructure upgradation mission. It is area based and intended to benefit all the citizens of an urban areas in one form or the other. For the success of smart city mission, one has to think out of the box and act accordingly. “
Under AMRUT, all towns and cities with a population of more than one lakh each are included in the mission for ensuring basic infrastructure to improve service levels by targeting individual households. Under Smart City Mission, selection of cities is based on competition and the implementation strategy is area based. (NSS)