Lucknow, Warangal, Dharamsala among 13 new smart cities

Lucknow, Warangal, Dharamsala among 13 new smart cities
The government today announced the names of 13 more cities that will be developed under the Centre's 'Smart City Mission' with Lucknow in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh topping the list, followed by Warangal in Telangana and Dharmashala in Himachal Pradesh.

Twenty-three cities with the higher rankings from as many states and Union terrritories, which failed to get representation in the first round of a competition held in January, participated in the 'Fast Track Competition', the result of which was announced by Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today.

Of these 23 cities, only 13 could qualify for the smart city projects through the fresh competition.

Other cities, which won this round, were Chandigarh, Raipur (Chhattisgarh), New Town Kolkata, Bhagalpur (Bihar), Panaji (Goa), Port Blair (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Imphal (Manipur), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Agartala (Tripura) and Faridabad (Haryana).

"The 13 cities selected in the Fast Track Competition have proposed a total investment of Rs 30,229 crore. With this, the investment proposed by 33 cities (20 cities announced in January and 13 cities today) under the smart city plans is now Rs 80, 789 crore," Naidu told a press conference.

Seven capital cities -- Patna (Bihar), Shimla (Himachal Pradesh), Naya Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Bengaluru (Karnataka) and Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) -- which were not included in the 100 cities shortlisted for the competition will be able to participate in the next round with other cities, the minister said.

Also, one out of Meerut and Rai Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh and another out of Jammu and Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir would also be selected for evaluation under the mission, he added.

Verma also emphasised upon need to focus on local solutions and careful planning through means like community engagement and collaboration, continue implementation of advanced technologies and apply innovative financial solutions.

British High Commissioner Sir Dominic Asquith said India's estimated smart cities market is the 12th largest globally.

He promised to support Smart City Mission through the UK's expertise in urban design; planning and architecture; infrastructure engineering and construction; data, software and analytics; project management; financing and real estate; and public engagement and customised user-centric solutions, among other areas.

All these themes would be displayed in the three cities chosen by the UK - Pune, Indore and Amravati.

Ambassador of Japan Kenji Hiramatsu highlighted some of the key areas of collaboration with India, including sewerage and water supply systems, energy efficiency and conservation, maximising the use of energy through stable Smart Grid systems, solar technology, and urban transportation systems.

Hiramatsu shared that Japan would be also provide technical assistance to India to make the cities and urban infrastructure resilient to natural disasters like floods and earthquakes.

He also highlighted the financial commitments made by Japanese companies to the Indian economy, like Softbank's USD 20 billion commitment to India's renewable energy sector in the next 10 years.

Ambassador of Korea Cho Hyun suggested that while transforming cities, the focus should be on the use of technologies and meticulous planning involving local communities and stakeholders.

Verma said the bilateral trade between the US and India was highest in 2015, crossing over USD 107 billion.

He said American companies have invested USD 15 billion in the past 2 years, and will sign deals worth some USD 27 billion in the next two years.

On the other hand, the Indian companies' investments in the US was over USD 15 billion with 100 companies spread across 35 states and employing nearly 100,000 Americans.

Verma said about 300 million people are expected to move to India's rapidly expanding cities over the next 20 years – roughly the entire population of the US.

"India's urban population will grow more rapidly than in China, South America, or the West. India will soon lead the world in the growth of megacities (cities with more than 10 million people) by 2030," he said.

Quting a recent industry study, he said the combined market potential for smart infrastructure in segments of energy, transportation, water, healthcare, and governance is enormous in upwards of USD 1.5 trillion dollars over the next five years. 
 
Of 13 cities that today qualified for the smart city project, four are from BJP-ruled states of Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand and Haryana, while two are from Congress-governed states of Himachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Lucknow is in Samajwadi Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh, while Bhagalpur is in Bihar, where JD(U), RJD and Congress are ruling coalition partners, and Warangal is in Telangana ruled by Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

New Town Kolkata in West Bengal, where TMC came back to power in recently held assembly election, and Agartala in CPI(M)-ruled Tripura, were also selected for the smart city project.

Apart from these, Union territories of Chandigarh and Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar Islands were among the winners of this round.

Ten cities that failed to make the cut were Pasighat (Arunachal Pradesh), Shillong (Meghalaya), Namchi (Sikkim), Diu (Daman & Diu), Oulgaret (Puducherry), Silvassa (Dadra and Nagar Haveli), Kohima (Nagaland), Aizawl (Mizoram), Kavaratti (Lakshadweep) and Dehradun (Uttarakhand).

These cities would be able to participate in the next round of the competition with other cities.

Assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management systems, efficient urban mobility and public transportation, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation are some of the highlights of the smart city project.

Under the Smart City Mission, 100 cities across the country will be developed as smart cities by 2019-20 with the Union government providing financial support to the extent of Rs 48,000 crore over five years.

While 20 smart cities were selected during 2015-16 as per the Mission guidelines, another 40 (including 13 today) would be selected during 2016-17 and the remaining 40 during the next financial year.

Each city selected in different rounds of competition will be given central assistance of Rs 200 crore in the first year and Rs 100 crore each during the subsequent three financial years.

State governments and respective urban local bodies will provide matching funds to the same amount. 

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