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Centre considering scheme for smart cities


New Delhi, July 29 :

Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu has suggested that there could be a scheme for renewal of 500 urban habitations in India and another for “smart cities”.

Naidu, who chaired a two-day brainstorming session here concerning urban renewal, has asked ministry officials to look into the experience of the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), and said the focus of the smart city project should be on enhancing the quality of urban life through an integrated approach to urban planning.

Venkaiah Naidu
Venkaiah Naidu

The brainstorming session concluded Tuesday.

An official release said the broad view that emerged at the session was that new urban development initiatives should aim at improving the quality of life and go beyond merely improving infrastructure, based on the experience of implementing the JNNURM.

Various aspects of urban development, including smart cities, were taken up for critical examination.

Power Minister Piyush Goyal and parliamentarians Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Baijayant Panda and Rajiv Chandrasekhar shared their perspectives.

Goyal suggested that issues of solid waste management and cleanliness should be addressed on priority.

On development of smart cities, he said four-five such projects could be offered to states which have land available readily.

Rudy said six dimensions of smart cities should be “smart governance, smart mobility, smart environment, smart ecology, smart people and smart living”, while Panda said emerging towns should be included under the smart cities initiative.

Scindia suggested development of ‘counter magnet cities’ to spread urbanisation to new areas and noted that cities which do not face issues like congestion and paucity of land could be chosen first to be developed as smart cities.

Chandrasekhar said that though the JNNURM had laudable objectives, it failed to develop a single ‘model city’. This experience should be taken into account while devising new urban development schemes.

He said the central government should play the role of a catalyst and stressed the need for city-specific plans and empowerment of local bodies.

Shankar Aggarwal, secretary for urban development, said a smart city could have technology-based governance that enables efficient public services, has 24×7 water and power supply, 100 percent sewerage, drainage and solid waste management facilities besides top class infrastructure.

He said resources could be mobilised through public-private partnership, multilateral agencies and viability gap funding by the central government.

Naidu asked ministry officials to prepare notes for the cabinet based on learning from the JNNURM and suggestions received during the deliberations.

The JNNURM, launched in 2005, aims to encourage reforms and fast-track planned development of identified cities. Focus is on efficiency in urban infrastructure and service delivery mechanisms, community participation and accountability of urban local bodies towards citizens.

The release said Naidu suggested there could be two different schemes – one for renewal of 500 urban habitations and another for smart cities.

It said 500 habitations are to be provided safe drinking water, sewerage management and use of recycled water, solid waste management and digital connectivity as mentioned in the union budget for 2014-15.

The National Democratic Alliance government has provided Rs.7,060 crore in this year’s budget for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of 100 smart cities by developing satellite towns of larger cities and modernising the existing mid-sized cities.