The following are the 20 cities that made the cut for the first phase of the ‘Smart Cities Mission’, being launched under the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India:
- Bhubaneswar, Odisha
- Pune, Maharashtra
- Jaipur, Rajasthan
- Surat, Gujarat
- Kochi, Kerala
- Ahmedabad, Gujarat
- Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
- Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
- Solapur, Maharashtra
- Davangere, Karnataka
- Indore, Madhya Pradesh
- New Delhi – area under New Delhi Municipal Corporation
- Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
- Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh
- Belagavi, Karnataka
- Udaipur, Rajasthan
- Guwahati, Assam
- Chennai, Tamil Nadu
- Ludhiana, Punjab
- Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
Objective behind the Smart Cities Project
Urban development in India has been largely unplanned and uncoordinated between various civic bodies, as a result quality of life in India’s urban cities has been poor. So much so, that 13 out of the 20 cities selected above are part of WHO’s Top 20 most polluted cities in the world. Thereby, re-emphasizing the need for launching of the Smart City initiative.
The 98 cities in India have submitted their proposals to be included in the Smart Cities Mission. The list includes 24 state capitals, 24 cities that serve as commercial and industrial hubs, 18 cities that are popular tourism and heritage related locations, 5 being port based cities and 3 are education or health intensive places.
In the first phase, 20 cities have been selected, the second phase will include 40 cities and third phase will see the remaining 38 cities being covered. PM Modi has announced that by 2022 he would like to see India have 100 smart and sustainable cities.
Over Rs 50,000 crore will be spent on these 20 cities to improve water supply, sewerage, sanitation, power supply, roads and public spaces. The aim is to build green and sustainable cities by upgrading existing civic amenities to match or better those existing in developed European cities.
Criteria to qualify for the Smart City Project
Government of India had announced that cities that aspired to be included in the 100 Smart City project have to participate and qualify in the ‘City Challenge’ selection process that was held in two phases.
- Participating states had to give an undertaking to make a city smart as per GOI guidelines.
- The State have to form a city-wise Inter-Departmental Task Force that will comprise of Urban Local Bodies, and Organizations and Urban Development Authorities, as per stated guidelines.
- Resolution by the elected City Council approving to make the city smart.
- Inputs and suggestions taken by local city residents on development priorities, as per guidelines.
Phase 1: Scoring criteria to qualify
There is a clearly defined and transparent system of points earned for each criteria fulfilled and the final list of cities selected will be on the basis of maximum points scored.
- Existing city service levels: contending cities must submit either percentage increase over Census 2011 levels or baseline target achieved under Swachh Bharat program, Citizen Online Grievance Redressal System must be in place, must be publishing a monthly e-newsletter, and must have an online publication of municipal budget expenditure.
- Institutional systems and capacities: cities showing an increase in collection of taxes, fees and other charges in last three years, and whether penalties have been levied for service response delays.
- Self-financing and internal revenue generation: based on salary paid, audit of accounts till FY 12-13, levels of tax collection, and collections from water supply charges etc.
- Past track record under JnNURM and reforms: levels of expenditure on JnNURM projects and projects completed. Also, based on reforms implemented pertaining to JnNURM related projects.
Phase 2: Submission of Smart City Proposal
Based on the initial qualifying criteria, cities must submit Smart City Proposal (SCP), which shall include their model for retrofitting, remodeling or setting up greenfield development projects for the city with smart solutions. The SCP is to be prepared in consultation with city residents and stakeholders and expert consultants and other relevant bodies, as approved by Ministry of Urban Development.
Government accused of political bias in shortlisting cities
The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has been accused by various opposition parties for favouring BJP ruled states over non-BJP ruled ones. States like Bengal, Bihar and U.P. do not have a single city included in the list of 20 cities that have made the cut.
On the surface, it would seem that there has been a bias, since states like Madhya Pradesh which is BJP ruled, have Bhopal, Indore and Jabalpur included in the list of 20 cities. Then you have Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat, all BJP-ruled states, with 2 cities each, that have been selected.
However, it is also true that cities like Varanasi, which is the Prime Minister’s personal constituency of interest, has not made the cut. Varanasi, it may be recalled drew international attention due to the high profile visit by the Japanese PM and his commitment to support development of the city.
On the other hand, Belagavi, a relatively lesser known city in Karnataka, has made the list. Also, the fact that Bhubaneswar, capital of a non-BJP ruled state, has topped the list. This only reinforces the fact that cities have been selected on merit and based on points scored by each city, as per criteria laid down.
The cities that did not make the first cut needn’t be too disappointed as they still have time to prepare and meet the criteria laid down and get included in the next list of 40 cities, that will be announced for the second phase.