Reported by Biswajit Dash
Bhubaneswar, Jul 2:
With the Odisha capital meeting almost 80 percent of the minimum requirements of the guidelines set by the Centre, the temple city is in all likelihood going to become the first smart city of the state.
The Union Government has announced approval for 20 smart cities out of the 100 cities announced earlier this year. Odisha will get to nominate two of these approved cities. While Bhubaneswar is likely to emerge as the first preference, the second city is yet to be identified.
However, going by infrastructure and other minimum requirements as prescribed in the guidelines of the Union government, Cuttack, Rourkela, Sambalpur and Brahmapur are close competitors. Earlier, the state government had proposed named of six cities to be covered under the Smart City scheme.
“In addition to Puri, which is recognised as the heritage city by the Union government, we are proposing five cities with corporations- Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela and Sambalpur for inclusion in the Smart City scheme of the Centre,” Housing & Urban Development Minister Pushpendra Singh Deo had written to the centre.
It may be noted that in a bid to modernise the cities and make them internationally competitive to attract investment, the Centre had decided to support the development of 100 smart cities in the country. The Union Government would provide an extra aid of Rs 100 crore annually to build and upkeep the infrastructure.
The scheme ensures maximum travel time of 30 minutes in small and medium sized cities and 45 minutes in metropolitan areas, 24×7 water supply , 24×7 power supply, 100 per cent household with direct water supply connections, 100 per cent households with access to toilets and 100 per cent schools with separate toilets for girls. Besides, hundred per cent of the households of these cities will also have a telephone connection including mobile phone, Wi-Fi connectivity to 100 per cent of the city with at least 100 MBPS data speed among others.
The 100 cities may include nine cities of four million plus population, 35 cities having population between one to four million, 25 cities with 0.2 million to one million population, 17 Union territories or state capitals and 10 cities of tourist, religious and economic importance.