Smart city projects to be decided by citizens, civic bodies: Modi

Smart city projects will be decided by citizens and municipalities and neither the central nor the state governments will decide about their development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Thursday, as he launched three urban development missions.

“For the first time such an approach is being taken where neither the Centre nor states will decide. The decision to become a smart city will be taken by the citizens themselves, by the municipalities,” Modi said launching three missions on Smart Cities, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, and Housing for All.

The three programmes are aimed at bettering the quality of urban living and drive economic growth. The central government has committed to spend about Rs.400,000 crore on these missions over the next six years.

“The city’s vision towards its future development is necessary for any programme’s success. Otherwise it will get bogged down, where state-level departments and agencies are awaiting directions from the Centre, while cities are awaiting a decision from the state governments,” said Modi.

He said the selection process for smart cities will be according to parameters, “and thereafter the Centre and states will come in to help realise it. Competition is critical for the success of the programme”.

Under the Smart Cities Mission, 100 new smart cities, which would promote adoption of smart solutions for efficient use of available assets and enhance the quality of urban life, would be made.

Aspirants will be selected through a “City Challenge Competition” intended to link financing with the city’s ability to achieve the mission objectives.

PM Modi announces smart city mission
Cities must qualify themselves through challenge criteria such as sanitation, clean water, power, greenery quotient and ratio between revenue and expenditure on municipal salaries.

Each selected city would get central assistance of Rs.100 crore per year for five years.

Modi said the country’s 40 percent population lives in cities and “it is the responsibility of the government to uplift their standards of life”.

“We cannot leave them to their fate,” he said.

Mentioning the challenge of a rising population, he said all possible avenues should be explored to find the resources for urban development.

Citing the existing housing shortage of two crore units, he said India is completing 75 years of independence in 2022, and by then, “it is our responsibility to provide a house for everyone”.

Modi also released logos and taglines for the three missions, as well the operational guidelines for the Smart Cities Mission.

“Only the capable cities will be chosen under the Smart Cities Mission through a two-stage competition,” said the post-launch release by the urban development ministry.

“In stage-1 of the City Challenge Competition, each state and union territory will score all their cities based on a set of criteria and nominate the top scorers as per the indicated number of potential smart cities for participation in the stage-2 of the competition,” it added.

Commenting on the three missions launched, industry stakeholders said they will generate a lot of employment opportunities in the country.

“Once these initiatives are actually implemented, they will also have an economic multiplier effect on the nation’s economy as a whole, since such huge infrastructure development initiatives will require a massive increase in production and manufacturing output of the country,” said Amit Modi, vice president, Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI).

“Critical urban infrastructure is urgently required in order to make the economy efficient. The process of building this urban infrastructure would lead to an explosive growth in the economy as the execution of the vision would entail large scale consumption of cement, metals, plastics, materials and services,” said Jaijit Bhattacharya, partner, infrastructure services, KPMG in India.