Cabinet nod for 100 smart cities

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved Modi government’s two flagship schemes - 100 smart cities and urban rejuvenation programme for 500 towns and cities.

The idea is to recast the urban landscape and to make such areas more livable and inclusive, besides driving economic growth. The government cleared a total central outlay of Rs 98,000 crore to execute these schemes in the next five years.

Work is to be undertaken for smaller cities and towns with one lakh or more population under a new scheme named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee - Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). Centre will spend Rs 50,000 crore for this scheme. This will be the new scheme in place of JNNURM named after India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru during UPA rule.

TOI on February 3 had first reported naming of this new scheme after Vajpayee.

Under the smart cities scheme each city selected through a “city challenge” competition would get central assistance of Rs 100 crore per year for five years. To begin about 20 cities would be selected after the state governments come forward with names of cities they want nominated.

A ministry spokesperson said that the criteria for competition would be finalized soon and these will be linked to financing with the ability of the cities to perform and achieve mission objectives. According to an official release, the smart cities mission intends to promote adoption of smart solutions for efficient use of available assets, resources and infrastructure with the objective of enhancing the quality of urban life and providing a clean and sustainable environment.

There will be special focus on adequate and clean water supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient transportation, affordable housing for the poor, power supply, robust IT connectivity, e-governance, safety and security of citizens, health and education.

There will be special emphasis on citizens’ participation in prioritizing and planning urban interventions. “It will be implemented through ‘area based’ approach consisting of retrofitting, redevelopment, pan-city initiatives and development of new cities. Under retrofitting, deficiencies in an identified area will be addressed through necessary interventions as in the case of local area plan for downtown Ahmedabad. Redevelopment enables reconstruction of already built-up area that is not amenable for any interventions, to make it smart, as in the case of Bhendi Bazar of Mumbai and West Kidwai Nagar in Delhi,” the official statement said.

Pan-city components could be interventions like intelligent transport solutions to benefit all citizens by reducing commuting time.

“The two missions are interlinked,” a ministry official said.

AMRUT will focus on ensuring basic infrastructure services such as water supply, sewerage, storm water drains, transport and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children.

Implementation of this mission will be linked to promotion of urban reforms such as e-governance, setting up of professional municipal cadre, devolving funds and functions to urban local bodies, review of building bye-laws, improvement in assessment and collection of municipal taxes, credit rating of urban local bodies, energy and water audit and citizen-centric urban planning.

Central assistance will be to the extent of 50 per cent of project cost for cities and towns with population of up to 10 lakh and one-third of the project cost for those with a population of above 10 lakh.

Central assistance will be released in three instalments in the ratio of 20:40:40 based on achievement of milestones indicated in state annual action plans. “AMRUT seeks to lay a foundation to enable cities and towns to eventually grow into smart cities,” the official said.

The scheme will also cover JNNURM projects sanctioned during 2005 -2012 and which have achieved physical progress of 50 per cent availing 50 per cent of central assistance released by the government. Accordingly, 102 and 296 projects respectively will get central support for balance funding to complete these projects.

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