Smart City plans should come up in consultation with people, says Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi, 3/9 : Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday said that a ‘Smart City’ is what the citizens want their places to be and the city-level plans should be evolved based on extensive consultations with them.

Smart City Plans will be evaluated in the second stage of City Challenge competition based on such consultations and their economic and environmental impacts, Naidu said. He was addressing a Smart City  regional workshop held here for ten northern states and Gujarat to discuss various aspects of preparation of the Plans and related issues. Mayors and civic chairpersons and municipal commissioners from cities included in Smart City Mission and Principal Secretaries of Urban Development from these states, besides, representatives of domestic and global technical agencies and consultants and multi-lateral lending agencies attended the workshop.

Responding to the comments of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav reported in a section of the media today, Naidu said that the contours of smart city plans will be defined by the citizens and the plans will reflect their aspirations. He said, “One can look smart even in a good kurta and pyjama as in the case of Akhilesh Yadav himself. But the question is how many cities in UP and the country are like such good kurta and pyjama? When UP was assigned 13 smart city slots based on urban population, the number of statutory urban local bodies in the state, the Chief Minister asked for more smart cities.
“Cities should first be made to look like good kurta and pyjama before one thinks of putting suit and tie on them. I, however, thank him for assuring cooperation in the implementation of the Smart City Mission.” Yadav was reported to have said that smart cities are like wearing a “tie on kurta and pyjama”.

Naidu urged the elected representatives and officials of the cities included in the Smart City Mission to leave behind the jubiliation over the same, and face the tough challenge of making them smart, for which the clock has begun to tick.

Seeking to motivate the Mayors, Municipal Chairpersons and Municipal Commissioners of 40 cities included in Smart City Mission, Naidu said, “You have it in you to rise to the challenge of making these cities smart if you so desire and act accordingly.

“All that is needed is change of mindset and commitment to live up to people’s expectations and the desire to be remembered for what you have done instead of worrying about the next elections.”

Naidu informed the elected and executive heads of urban local bodies that the Smart City Plans to be now prepared for evaluation in the second stage of City Challenge competition will be broadly assessed for the extent and quality of citizen participation and their economic and environmental impacts.

These city-level plans are to be submitted to the Urban Development Ministry in the next three months for evaluation for selecting the top 20 entries for extending financial support during the current fiscal. He expressed confidence that the urban landscape of the country can be recast to make urban areas more livable and more effective engines of economic growth under the epochal new beginning made under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The participating states and Union Territories — Chandigarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat — accounted for 40 of the 98 smart city candidates, 201 of 482 Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) cities and 5 of the 12 Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) cities identified so far.

The Urban Development Minister said that a paradigm shift has been introduced to enable the success of new urban development initiatives based on the learnings of the past, including the implementation of JNNURM.

Elaborating on the essential features of this new approach, Naidu said, these include bottom-up planning based on citizen participation, complete autonomy to states and UTs in project proposal, appraisal and approval, selection of cities and towns under new urban missions based on objective criteria, convergence of different schemes to enable integrated planning and better utilisation of resources for visible impact on ground and unprecedented resource support to states and urban local bodies.

Naidu also said that as against the central assistance of only Rs 36,000 cr under ten-year-long JNNURM, the present central government has committed to spend over Rs 3 lakh crores on urban development during the next five to six years.

Transfer of divisible revenues to the states has been increased by a whopping 10 per cent besides enhanced assistance of Rs 64,032 cr to urban local bodies over the next five years, he said. Differentiating between the Smart City Mission and the Atal Mission (AMRUT), UD Secretary Madhusudhan Prasad said that the former is based on selection while the latter on entitlement.

Prasad stressed that “Smart City Mission is not a mere urban infrastructure upgradation mission. It is area based and intended to benefit all the citizens of an urban areas in one form or the other. For the success of smart city mission, one has to think out of the box and act accordingly.”

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