Decks have finally been cleared for the initiation of Modi government’s flagship program to develop 100 smart cities after the Union cabinet on Wednesday approved Rs 48,000 crore for a five year period for the project.
The Cabinet also approved Rs 50,000 crore for upgrading basic civic infrastructure in 500 cities. Called Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, the scheme would be interlinked with the smart cities project and envisages improving water supply, sewerage and transport infrastructure in the selected cities.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to launch the project next month before going to China. This would be followed by the urban development (UD) ministry — the nodal agency to implement the ambitious project — inking a deal with US based Bloomberg Philanthropies for assisting it in selecting the 100 cities through a “city challenge competition.”
The ministry proposed to select just 20 cities this year followed by 40 each in the next two years. The selection would be based on the scores that cities get for carrying out urban reforms in key areas, including sanitation and good governance.
“The aim is to upgrade the physical, social and economic infrastructure of cities so as to bring about an overall improvement in the quality of life of our city residents,” said an official.
While the cabinet has approved Rs 48,000 crore, the government has estimated that it would require around Rs 1 lakh crore in the next five years to develop the 100 smart cities. It expects respective states and the private sector to ramp up the additional funds.
“A special purpose vehicle would be set up to help generate revenue from the market,” said an official.
“Both projects would take off simultaneously and complement each other,” said an official.