‘SmarT20’ : The Indian City Saga

smartUrban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu on 28 January announced the first list of 20 cities to be developed as Smart Cities. Bhubaneshwar topped the list and Pune and Jaipur came in second and third, respectively.

“All the states were asked to submit a list of cities, which were then judged on service levels, infrastructure and track record.” The cities thus selected are Bhubaneswar,Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur, Visakhapatnam, Solapur, Davangere, Indore, the New Delhi area, Coimbatore, Kakinada, Belgaum, Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana and Bhopal.
An investment of Rs 50,802 crore has been proposed in the selected smart cities and towns during the five-year period. The selected cities will be developed with basic infrastructure such as assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, public transport, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation, added Naidu.
“There are five capital cities among the 20 smart cities chosen,” said Naidu. “A consortium of only Indian companies was chosen for plans of nine cities from the 20 cities chosen,” he added.

Union parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu said, “We introduced competition to pick the best candidates. The competition was as rigorous as the civil services exam.”
The government has denied any role in the selection. “Nothing was decided by us, nothing was dictated by us,” he said. To qualify, states and local administrations had to provide “smart answers” to a template with 43 questions.
Those cities which have not been named will be asked to get their act together, focus on deficiencies and prepare for the next round of announcements, come April.
It has come as a surprise that none of the cities chosen in the first list are from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, while some states have two or more nominees. Sucbh states include Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
The Centre in December last year had submitted a list of 97 selected cities to the ministry. As many as Rs 200 crore will be provided in the first year to each chosen city and Rs 100 crore every subsequent year.