Lucknow, New Town in Kolkata, Bhagalpur and Dharamsala are among the 13 urban centres picked to be developed as smart cities under the Modi government’s ambitious plan for an urban overhaul.
Chandigarh, Faridabad, Raipur, Ranchi, Warangal, Agartala, Imphal, Port Blair and Panaji are the other cities chosen on Tuesday through a fast-track competition.
Meant to change the way urban India lives, smart cities will enjoy uninterrupted power and water supplies, internet connectivity, e-governance along with quality infrastructure.
In January, when the first 20 smart cities were announced the urban development ministry had come under fire for leaving out cities from non-NDA states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
Upset over the exclusion of the three potential smart cities from Bihar, chief minister Nitish Kumar had said the urban plan promoted “regional inequality.”
Other state government also said the first list was tilted heavily in favour of the NDA-ruled state. All the 12 cities from Uttar Pradesh -- short-listed from the 98 potential smart cities -- lost out in the first round.
To stave off criticism, the ministry decided to fast track the selection process to choose the second lot from a list of 23.
Two of the 13 cities are in Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow) and Himachal Pradesh (Dharamsala) that go to the polls in 2017. While the Congress is in power in Himachal, the Samajwadi Party rules Uttar Pradesh.
Four cities – Faridabad (Haryana), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and Panaji (Goa) – are in BJP-ruled states. The capital city of Congress-ruled Manipur, Imphal, too has made the cut.
The 13 cities have proposed projects involving a total investment of Rs 30,229 crore.
The ministry has also decided to allow seven capital cities -- Patna, Shimla, Naya Raipur, Itanagar, Amaravati, Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram -- to participate in the competition. The cities were not on the list of 98 potential smart cities.
Smart cities are picked though a two-stage process. In the first stage, a state shortlists potential cities and send the names to the Centre. In the second round, these nominated cities compete with each other.
The selection is based on the scores cities get for carrying out urban reforms in areas including sanitation and governance.
While 20 cities were selected in January, 40 more will be added to the list by the yearend. Each city will be given R500 crore by the Centre over five years. The states will have to make a matching contribution.
Stalemate over J&K, UP cities
The Centre has decided to allow both Jammu and Srinagar from the border state and Meerut and Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh to make a pitch for the tag. But, the ministry has made it clear that only one city will be picked from each of these states.