The Centre has set the stage for one of the biggest urban renewal programmes to modernise our cities in recent times, with a top government panel approving Rs 2.73 lakh crore to develop 100 smart cities and upgrade basic civic infrastructure in another 500 cities during the next 10 years.
The Centre’s Expenditure Finance Committee, which does the financial appraisal of projects before they go to cabinet cleared Rs 1,00,000 crore for developing smart cities and Rs 1.73 lakh crore for the National Urban Rejuvenation Mission (NURM), that aims at improving water supply, sewerage, drainage and transport infrastructure in 500 cities.
“Both projects, piloted by the urban development ministry, are likely to get cabinet’s approval shortly,” a government official told HT.
Sources said the two projects would take off simultaneously and complement each other. “For instance under NURM, projects to improve basic amenities like providing water to households would be taken up while under the smart cities program initiatives like introducing 24x7 water supply and smart meters could be taken up,” said an official.
To start with, the ministry plans to develop 20 smart cities by upgrading their physical, social and economic infrastructure during 2015-16. “The idea is to bring about an overall improvement in the quality of life of our city residents,” said an official.
The cities would be selected through a “city challenge” competition. Cities which have a clear road map and meet the benchmark set for urban reforms like implementing e-governance and municipal reforms would be selected. The government will spend Rs 100 crore on each city while rest of the investment would have to come from the private sector.
Prior to this, the only other comprehensive urban modernisation program was undertaken by the previous UPA government when they launched the Rs 66,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission in 2007. However, poor planning and implementation resulted in only 50% of the urban infrastructure projects, undertaken in 65 cities, being completed.