There is no ‘smart’ route to development for Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal. Instead, the state government plans to take the ‘green’ route. The West Bengal government has rejected Centre’s ‘Smart City Project’ and decided to develop some cities of the state on the lines of its own ‘Green City Project’. The Indian Express (IE) reported that Kolkata suburb New Town-Rajarhat, which has earlier qualified for the smart city project, will now be developed as India’s first ‘Green City’. New Town-Rajarhat had to bid twice to qualify for the Centre’s project. Other places of the state which had qualified for the smart city project were Salt Lake, Asansol and Durgapur. The state government has, however, decided to opt out of the Centre’s project.
IE reported a government official as saying that there are two reasons behind the state government’s move. First, “skewed nature of investment from the state and the Centre.” Second, compulsory imposition of water tax in smart cities. The final decision to opt out of the smart city project was taken in a meeting between Banerjee and West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim. The latter said that the state government would soon send an official communication in this regard to the Centre.
After getting re-elected as the state CM early this year, Banerjee had claimed the “idea” and “theory” of the smart city project was wrong. She had said it would be unwise to spend Rs 500 crore on smart city project. Instead, the state government will spend the money as per its own understanding.
According to the IE report, the state government has selected 10 cities to develop them in a planned and sustainable manner. These are: New Town-Rajarhat, Durgapur, Bolpur, Kalyani, Baruipur, Gangasagar, Debanandapur, Raghunathpur, Phulbari and Jaigaon.