Lucknow tops Fast Track competition; 13 more Smart Cities announced
Central Government has announced 13 more smart cities from as many States. Lucknow topped the list of winners of the Fast Track competition conducted for 23 cities from as many States and Union Territories. Announcing the winners at a media conference on the occasion of two years of the Government in office, Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation M.Venkaiah Naidu said that the cities that participated in the competition improved the quality of smart city plans by up to over 25% to become eligible for selection. With the selection of these 13 cities, 25 States/UTs are now covered under Smart City Mission
On the occasion, Naidu released a publication ‘Urban Renaissance: May,2014-May,2016’ giving a detailed account of paradigm shift in attitudes and approaches to urban planning and governance and the major drivers of urban revival and transformation set in motion during the last two years.
Naidu informed that Lucknow that missed the list of first 20 smart cities improved the quality of its smart city plan by 19% to make it to the select list. Other winners of Fast Track competition were; Warangal, Telanagana (13%), Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh (27%), Chandigarh (9%), Raipur, Chattisgarh (25%), New Town Kolkata (11%), Bhagalpur, Bihar (25%), Panaji, Goa (9%), Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands (26%), Imphal, Manipur (27%), Ranchi, Jharkhand (27%), Agartala, Tripura (25%) and Faridabad, Haryana(12%).
These 13 cities were selected based on the marks scored by them in the Fast Track competition and the bench marks set by the top performers in the first round of Smart City Challenge competition in which the first 20 cities were selected from among 98 mission cities.
Naidu stated that the 13 cities have substantially improved their smart city plans by addressing the deficiencies identified in the first round of competition by ensuring better profiling of respective cities in terms of infrastructure gaps and baseline service levels, ensuring consistency between citizens’ aspirations and action plans, more feasible resource mobilization plans and coordinated and integrated picture of how individual projects will contribute to area level changes.
Other cities that participated in Fast Track Competition were: Namchi, Sikkim and ranked 14, Aizawl, Mizoram(15), Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh(16), Dehradun, Uttarakhand(17), Kohima, Nagaland(18), Oulgaret, Puducherry(19), Silvassa, Dadra, Nagar & Haveli(20), Kavaratti, Lakshdweep(21), Diu, Daman & Diu(22) and Shillong, Meghalaya(23). These cities can submit their revised smart city plans for evaluation in the second round of regular competition underway by the end of June.
Venkaiah Naidu informed that the tie between Meerut and Rai Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Srinagar in J&K will be resolved by allowing them to participate in the smart city competition and one city from each of these two States will be selected based on the quality of smart city plans. Seven capital cities left out of Smart City Mission will also be allowed to participate in the competition. These cities are: Patna, Shimla, Naya Raipur, Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala).
The Minister said that as a part of efforts for country’s transformation towards higher levels of social and economic development, renaissance of urban sector has been set in motion through a paradigm shift in policies and programmes. “The new approaches introduced, the new churning at the level of urban local bodies and States/UTs, the new spirit of competition among cities and Stated to do better than others, the new enthusiasm and vigor being demonstrated, the new clarity of thought about outcomes and actions to be taken and the new beginning towards urban transformation in a more purposeful and holistic manner marked the process of urban renaissance” he said.
Extensive stakeholder consultations and citizen participation, selection of cities based on competition and other objective criteria, full autonomy to cities and States/UTs to formulate, appraise and approve projects, replacing project based sanctions of the past to area and outcome based planning, convergence based implementation of schemes and substantial enhancement in Central assistance are the major drivers of urban revival, said Naidu.
Giving an account of the gains of new initiatives and approaches, Naidu said that for the first time in the country, 98 smart cities and 497 Atal Mission cities accounting for over 70% of urban population now have long term five year action plans based on comprehensive analysis of infrastructure gaps. Other positives the Minister stated include: Atal Mission cities acquiring technology platforms for transparent and accountable governance and citizen engagement, about 100 cities initiating action for obtaining Credit Ratings necessary for resource mobilization, approvals for plans for providing water taps to the unconnected 25 million urban households besides ensuring water supply at the norm of 135 litres per head per day to all urban households by 2019, smart city development benefitting 130 million urban people, streamlining approvals for building permits in urban areas, efforts for sanitation benefitting all 80 million urban households, well considered initiatives to ensure affordable housing for all the urban poor etc.
Naidu further informed that Central assistance for improving basic infrastructure in urban areas has been increased to Rs.1,13,143 cr under new urban missions as against only Rs.33,902 cr during 2004-14. For affordable housing for urban poor, Central assistance of Rs.10,050 cr has already been approved as against only Rs.17,889 cr during the previous ten years.
6.84 lakh houses have already been sanctioned for Economically Weaker Sections under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) accounting for more than half of 13.70 lakh houses sanctioned during 2004-14 out of which only 8.04 lakh houses could be built. Availability of land is being ensured before agreeing to fund housing schemes besides giving four options to the beneficiaries to choose from based on their needs and incomes to enable targeted construction of affordable houses, the Minister observed.
Venkaiah Naidu informed that the new urban sector initiatives of PMAY (Urban), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Start City Mission, Swachh Bharat Mission and Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) have a total investment potential of Rs.18 lakh crore. Of this, an investment of Rs.1,48,093 cr has already been approved. This include; Affordable housing-Rs.43,922 cr, Atal Mission-Rs.20,882 cr, Smart City Mission-Rs.80,789 cr, Swachh Bharat Mission-Rs.2,000 cr and HRIDAY- Rs.500 cr.