Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the Cabinet is likely to clear the government's flagship smart city...
Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the Cabinet is likely to clear the government’s flagship smart city project soon and it will be rolled out from next month.
“The Expenditure Finance Committee has cleared it. It is likely to go to the Cabinet any time this month,” Naidu said at an event organised by CII here.
“This thing will be approved and it will be rolled from the next month onwards and then the competition, race will start … cities must qualify themselves (by standards, sanitation, revenue, infrastructure) and once that is done then I will be coming to you (industry) and you will be coming to me and then we have a system, we have open offer,” he said.
The Centre will be a facilitator with regard to smart cities and government will do the hand holding, he told the industry promising all support in implementation of projects they identify.
Lot of companies are showing interest because now the government has allowed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), he added.
As far as housing for all is concerned, Naidu said the Cabinet has approved it earlier but there was a need for comprehensive housing policy for both urban and rural segments.
‘Housing for All’ scheme targets construction of houses for all by 2022.
“Both Ministers (Urban Development and Rural Development) sat together and then gave inputs to Finance Ministry and now Finance Ministry is considering it,” he said.
M Venkaiah Naidu said that money is a major issue in the development of smart cities as huge investment is required and the government does not have that all.
“We are emphasising the urban local bodies that please increase your revenues. There are municipalities in the country which have not enhanced their taxes for the last 10-12 years and everybody is looking up (at the central government),” he said.
The minister said that today 84 per cent of the municipal revenues are going for payment of salaries.
“Some municipalities were seen in recent days – the North and East Municipality of Delhi – saying that they do not have money to pay salaries. We must change that … So you have to invent a new method and use technologies and bring in more transparency then your revenue will be generated,” he said.
He added that concept of smart cities would be on public private partnership (PPP) with the people.
“We need private investment. People are evincing interest. Fourteen countries have shown keen interest to come and work with India on smart cities and some more countries are making offer. Indian industry is also very keen,” Naidu said, adding there is also a need to change the mindset of people as money used through PPP model must be allowed to get it back.
Explaining about selection of cities, the minister said smart cities would be selected through a ‘City Challenge System’ in which there would a gradation on sanitation, drinking water, power supply, municipal planning, greenery and population.
“The selection will not be through political considerations,” he said.
To improve city infrastructure, he said people should focus on rain water harvesting and utilisation of power.
“We want to make it (rain water harvesting) mandatory for every house. Every house must have a strong rain water harvesting system. Slowly we have to think about water recycling…we have to go for green building. Under smart cities, an important component will be public transport,” he said.
The government is also working on ways to minimise human intervention and faster clearance of projects for urbanisation.
“There will be technical and financial bids. Then you have to also make some standards like whether these companies have done some work earlier or not, whether they have requisite qualification, whether they have modern technologies. All these things will be definitely taken into considerations,” Naidu said.
He said the central government will act as a facilitator while the states and urban local bodies will have to play a key role under the smart city scheme.