The central government will launch its ambitious ‘smart cities’ initiative this month by unveiling a roadmap for 100 proposed smart cities.
Addressing the media at a two-day conference, ‘Smart City: Delivery of Civic Services’, Venkaiah Naidu, the Union urban development minister, said the smart cities draft would soon be made available to the public.
“This month, we will launch both Smart Cities and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), which proposes the development of 500 cities,” said Naidu.
“The purpose of these programmes is to make urban life more comfortable, with basic services provided at cost-efficient rates,” he added.
Naidu said the central government will allot Rs1 lakh crore for the two programmes over the next five years, with each receiving around half that amount.
He added that 14 countries have already shown interest in the smart city scheme.
“Apart from JICA (Japanese International Cooperation Agency) and the World Bank, around 14 countries have shown interest in funding our smart cities programme,” said Naidu.
The smart cities plan is one of the most high-profile initiatives of the Narendra Modi government.
It envisages the ‘smart’ use of available assets and the deployment of technology to enhance the quality of urban life.
The cities that will benefit will be selected through a ‘city challenge’ competition.
“They will be judged on the steps they take with regard to various factors, including sanitation, sewage treatment, education and health facilities, water management and transport,” said Naidu.
State governments will to shortlist the cities and forward their lists to the centre.
“In the absence of planned urbanisation, citizens have to travel unnecessarily long distances from home to work and other places, land and housing costs are getting beyond the reach of the common man, and the poor are being deprived of the benefits of urbanisation,” Naidu said.
“It is important for a smart city to offer decent living options. It should provide a very high quality of life — comparable with any developed European city, and deliver services to citizens and businesses in an integrated and resource-efficient manner,” he added.