A new chapter in India’s urban history has started with the Smart Cities Mission finally taking some material shape. Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu announced the list of 20 cities that have qualified to build smart infrastructure with Rs. 200 crore each from the Central government’s first phase of funding. The Ministry has given top rating to Bhubaneswar for its robust Smart City plan.
Urging the country’s mayors to “work hard” for the improvement of their municipalities, Mr. Naidu said the government would soon introduce the credit rating system for cities so as to attract foreign investors. “Every city should follow credit rating. Otherwise no one will come and invest from outside,” he said, after announcing the 20 names here.
Mr. Naidu said the government would grant every winning city a sum of Rs. 500 crore as “overall cache of start-up funds” and expects the State governments to provide an additional Rs. 500 crore.
According to mission guidelines, the total State and Central financial assistance for each smart city would be Rs. 1,000 crore.
“This is the first time that an urban mission of such scale and ambition has relied so little on the decision-making by the Government of India,” said Mr. Naidu, adding that unlike the previous urban development schemes the government had adopted the “bottom-up approach.”
With an aim to achieve “inclusive growth”, the mission promotes integrated city planning, where the government’s policies such as Swachh Bharat Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation complement each other.