The first 20 cities to be developed as Smart Cities will be announced on Thursday, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday.
There are 97 cities in the Smart City Challenge, and the names of the first 20 winners of the competition will be announced on Thursday, Naidu said.
These cities will be developed to have basic infrastructure through assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation.
Naidu was addressing about 100 senior officers of Army, Navy, Air Force and civil service, including 25 foreign officials, participating in a course on ‘National Security and Strategic Studies’ at the National Defence College.
In the subsequent years, the government will announce 40 cities each to be developed as Smart Cities as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to develop 100 Smart Cities in the country.
Speaking on challenges and the way ahead for urban development, Naidu said perpetuation of inequities in urban areas has serious implications for national security and hence, the government is committed to ensuring inclusive development under new initiatives like Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart City Mission, Swachh Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).
Naidu stressed on the need for inclusive urban development, noting that “it was the need of the hour with ‘Young India’ becoming more and more aspirational”.
He expressed concern regarding the exploitation of urban spaces by the well-to-do sections of the society at the cost of the poor and the marginalised and stressed on inclusivity while taking decisions related to urban governance.
Emphasising on the need for sustainable urban development, Naidu said, “Cities should be water positive through water harvesting, recycling and reuse of water, energy positive with each household resorting to renewable sources of energy, and community positive facilitating interactive neighbourhoods.”
He said the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) had earlier this week approved a Rs 253 crore plan for enabling 10,000 houses of economically weaker sections in Tamil Nadu produce solar power through roof-mounted solar panels.
Naidu referred to the growing impact of climate change and urged people not to use vehicles to go for buying a milk packet, vegetables or to the nearby park for morning walk and advocated living in harmony with nature through green friendly construction.
He said the government has reoriented urban development approaches to ensure inclusive development through mandatory citizen’s participation in urban planning and project identification, provision of basic infrastructure to the poor like water and sewer connections, affordable houses for 2 crore urban poor, promotion of cycling and pedestrian pathways, provision of open spaces, transparent and responsive governance, adoption of technology for efficient service delivery and infrastructure use.
He said project-based and ad hoc urban development approach hitherto followed has been substituted by area based development and project formulation after detailed gap analysis.
States and urban local bodies have been empowered to identify, appraise and approve projects with his two urban ministries withdrawing from appraisal and approval of individual projects.