Smart city: State stands to lose

None of the cities, except Bangalore, meets the eligibility criteria

The Karnataka government has submitted to the Union Urban Development Ministry that the State stood at a disadvantage if the present eligibility criteria for selection of cities for the NDA government’s ambitious ‘Smart City’ project was adopted.

A concept paper, circulated among the urban development ministers from various states last week, stipulates that 44 cities with a population range of 10-40 lakh and nine satellite cities with a population of 40 lakh or more would be among the 100 cities across the country that would be selected for the smart city project.

Karnataka stands to lose out in these two categories as not a single city, apart from Bangalore, has a population of more than 10 lakh as per the 2011 census. In other words, no city in Karnataka can apply for the smart city status in these two categories (which form a bulk of 53 of the 100 proposed smart cities) as they will be failing to meet the primary eligibility criteria.

Bangalore with a population 84.25 lakh cannot apply in these two categories as there is a separate scheme for state capitals and Union territories.

Sources in the State Secretariat said the government, in its preliminary submission, has sought that the Union Urban Development Ministry amend the eligibility criteria. A detailed submission would be made to the Centre in the next two weeks, the sources added.
Next to Bangalore, the city with the highest population as per the 2011 census is Hubli-Dharwad (9.43 lakh), followed by Mysore (8.87 lakh) and Gulbarga (5.3 lakh). Other city corporations have the following population: Belgaum (4.88 lakh), Mangalore (4.84 lakh), Davangere (4.35 lakh), Bellary (4.09 lakh) and Shimoga (3.22 lakh).

In other states
The scene is different in other states. Neighbouring Kerala, for instance, has five cities with a population of more than 10 lakh, besides the state capital Thiruvanthapuram. These include Kozhikode (20.3 lakh), Thrissur (18.4 lakh), Malappuram (16.98 lakh), Kannur (16.42 lakh) and Kollam (11.1 lakh). Tamil Nadu has three cities with a population of more than 10 lakh (Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchirapalli).

Maharashtra takes the cake with six cities (Pune, Nagpur, Nashik, Bhiwandi, Vasai-Virar and Aurangabad), and Gujarat has four cities (Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot).
Urban development experts point out that the State lacked growing tier-2 cities as the focus of urban economic development and employment generation has been on Bangalore since decades.

Then, there are other categories in the smart city scheme. These include 10 cities that are of religious and tourist importance and 20 cities with a population range of 50,000 to one lakh. While several cities in the State will qualify in these categories, but will have to compete with hundreds of cities across the country.

In its maiden budget, the NDA government had announced a plan to develop 100 smart cities in the country. Round-the-clock supply of water and electricity, improved public transportation system, modern amenities, e-governance and clean and green environment are some of the parameters for the proposed smart cities.

The Finance ministry has earmarked Rs 7,000 crore for smart city projects for the current financial year.

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