How Bengaluru got a chance to participate in Smart Cities competition

After criticism from the non-BJP-ruled states that they have been deliberately ignored while identifying the cities to be developed under the Smart Cities Mission, the Centre on Tuesday decided to add seven capital cities, including Bengaluru, to participate in the city-level competition.

Other state capitals – Patna (Bihar), Shimla (Himachal Pradesh), Naya Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) and Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) – are now eligible for competing for the prestigious scheme.

These seven cities now have to prepare ‘Smart City Plans’, which will be evaluated in the second stage of the City Challenge competition by an apex body in the Urban Development Ministry which will be held in a couple of months, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said.

City’s vision
The Smart City Plan should mention the city’s vision to provide better amenities to its residents and mobilising funds from different sources for improving urban facilities.
When the Urban Development Ministry had finalised the 100 cities for the city-level competition in August 2015, Bengaluru and Mysuru failed to make it as they had scored less marks in the 13 qualifying parameters set by the Urban Development Ministry, which included the existing service-levels, past track record and reforms, implementation of Jawarharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission scheme and self-financing capacity of the cities.

Expressing surprise over the results, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah vowed to develop Bengaluru and Mysuru as smart cities from the state’s own funds.

The Opposition parties criticised Venkaiah Naidu for failure on his part to select Bengaluru for the Centrally sponsored project as he represents Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha.

Even Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar criticised the Centre for ignoring Patna. Despite Naidu claiming that it was an expert committee which identified the beneficiary cities based on city-level competitions and that his ministry had no role in it, sources in the Urban Development Ministry told Deccan Herald that the government had now decided to give another opportunity to the seven capital cities in the competition to avoid any further criticism.

Six cities in Karnataka – Hubballi-Dharwad, Belagavi, Shivamogga, Tumakuru, Davanagere and Mangaluru – have been able to make the first round of selection by getting the highest score in the competition.

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