STAR TREK - LUTYENS' DELHI makes the smart cut
The list released on Thursday had Bhubaneswar at the top, with a Rs 4,500-crore plan to retrofit and redevelop 985 acres around the railway station with modern amenities, followed by NDMC area (Delhi), Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur, Vizag, Solapur, Davanagere, Indore, Coimbatore, Kakinada, Belagavi, Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana, and Bhopal.
The race for inclusion in the Smart Cities league--a concept centred on provision of basic amenities like 24x7 power and drinking water supply as well as contemporary attributes like e-governance and IT infrastructure saw Madhya Pradesh bagging the maximum--three spots-while populous states like UP, Bengal, and Bihar failed to make it in the first round. Varanasi, the PM's own Lok Sabha constituency, failed to make the grade, finishing with the second most disappointing score among 97 contenders.
None of the three entries from Mumbai--Greater Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Kalayan-Dombivali-could make the cut either. New Kolkata, Gandhinagar and Vadodara also missed out. In all, 23 states failed to find a place, something which does not address the concern about urbanization deficit and led Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu to give them a second shot by April. Each state will submit an improved proposal of their highest ranking cities for this round of selection. By 2017, the Centre intends to identify 100 cities to be taken up for the programme.
The 20 cities which feature in the first list are expected to spend almost Rs 51,000 crore to upgrade the quality of life--a generous step-up of allocation of funds for upgrade of a significant urban swathe even if some of the projects would have possibly been taken up in normal course.
To begin with, only selected areas in the cities proposed by municipal bodies will be developed or redeveloped within two to five years. “These will work as catalysts and will become lighthouse to expand similar projects or work to make cities better,“ Naidu said.
Congratulating the winners, PM Narendra Modi said, “I wish the cities the very best as they move forward with implementation and transform urban India.“