The United Nations officials are lending their support to the Smart Cities project as a solution towards achieving sustainable development and facing the issues posed by climate change. A couple of international conferences have been organised in India in February and the UN officials have made it evident that they are completely in sync with this initiative by PM Narendra Modi.
UN Officials Lend Support to Smart Cities Project
The RE-Invest Conference took place from 15 to 17 February in New Delhi. At the event, Michael Bloomberg, the Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change of the UN Secretary-General expressed his support for this programme.
Bloomberg discussed the possible benefits that could be accrued by installing solar energy equipment that could generate 100 megawatts of electricity in smart cities. The Indian Government has plans to achieve this by 2022. He also stated that there was a connection between achieving economic progress and dealing with the challenges of climate change around the world. The dignitary also appreciated the way India was going about this issue, especially in the cities.
The 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit was organized in early February and smart cities featured among the important topics discussed during the event. In this summit, issues such as environment-friendly and secure methods of transportation in the new cities, which are also expected to be sustainable, were discussed. The Indian cities are facing several policy issues in relation to climate change and transportation. They figured prominently in the discussions. The Asian Development Bank President, Takehiko Nakao, made a keynote speech at the conference where he talked about the various challenges that the smart cities were going to face if they wanted to be sustainable.
Jammu and Kashmir Government Identifies Four Cities for Smart Cities Project
The state government of Jammu and Kashmir has selected four cities that it wishes to be part of the Smart Cities project. The cities in question are Jammu, Katra, Srinagar and Anantnag. The Indian Government has laid down some norms in order to choose cities that will be developed as part of the said programme. Unfortunately, Anantnag and Katra do not satisfy the requirements. This is why the J&K Government has asked the national administration to relax the rules so that both the cities can be accommodated.
In order to be eligible for this development project, a city should have a population of at least one lakh or above – something that Anantnag and Katra do not have. NN Vohra, the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, has written a letter to M Venkaiah Naidu, where he has urged the Union Minister for Urban Development, Housing and Poverty Alleviation that since both the cities have sufficient religious significance the norm of one lakh people should be waived off for them. Katra serves as the base camp for the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine and is visited by crores of pilgrim every year. As a pilgrimage site Anantnag gets approximately 5-6 lakh visitors every year. It is also located in proximity to Pahalgam, whose scenic splendour draws a lot of tourists every year. Pahalgam also serves as the base camp for visitors to the Amarnath shrine.
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