Work to begin on 20-30 smart cities this year

The government plans to take up 20-30 cities during the next financial year under its flagship scheme to develop smart cities.

Sources said there would be some minimum pre-qualification for the cities to make it to the elite club.

To start with, the government is looking at creating a colony or commercial area as small as 50 acres within a city limit with smart features in five years that can be replicated in other parts in successive years.

“Once people see a success story in their vicinity and there is a model, more such areas can be developed with people’s participation,” said an urban development ministry official.

As per the concept note, there will be three approaches - retrofitting, redevelopment and green-field development.

Under the retrofitting scheme, a city can undertake an area of minimum 500 acres and can implement the scheme in three years.

Under a redevelopment scheme, a 50 acre area can be taken as a model. Similarly, in the case of green-field development, the project area can be a vacant land spread over at least 250 acres and can be completed in 10 years.

Sources said while selecting cities, their performance in ‘Swachh Bharat’ scheme and the initiatives taken for good governance —at least 50 per cent tax collection and 60 per cent assessment of properties to name a few— would be considered.

Some of the other features that can prove as an advantage for any city are identifying business investment districts (BIDs) that can generate more employment, model bye-laws and the existence of a municipal cadre.

An urban development ministry official said a meeting of all state government officials, including five municipal commissioners from each of them and other stakeholders, have been convened on Friday to sensitise them about innovative policy and financing tools required to make the initiative successful.

Government has set a target to develop 100 smart cities. Sources said the Centre wants the cities to be aligned with the objectives of other flagship schemes including ‘Swachh Bharat’ Mission, Digital India, Make in India, Urban Livelihoods and Shelter for All.

Sources said the specific priorities of such cities would be to have clean air, move towards zero discharge of solid and liquid waste, make streets litter free, involve citizens in policy-making and execution, generate jobs, expand the identified core economic activities, reduce and eliminate poverty and make basic services available to all especially the poor and disadvantaged.

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