The Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu has approved 98 cities of the initially submitted 100 cities, to participate in the Government’s smart city plan for the country. According to the minister, these 98 cities cover a population of 13 crore people or around 35% of the urban population.

City selection process: Cities were selected by state governments to potentially participate in the Smart City initiative. On the basis of this list, 100 potential Smart Cities were announced post which each potential Smart City prepared a proposal with the help from various external agencies like World Bank, UN Habitat etc. Once this proposal was submitted, it was evaluated by a panel of experts and the finalized cities will now be able to start implementing their plans. Cities that haven’t been selected will be able to improve their proposal and submit during the next round. The full list was tweeted by the Pune Municipal commissioner:

Smart City features: The government outlined some of the features included in typical development plans submitted by cities:

– Relying on online services to bring accountability and transparency in a cost effective way. Encourage the use of mobile services without having to go to municipal offices, and to form e groups to listen to people and get feedback. This will include online monitoring of programs and cyber tours of worksites.

– Housing opportunities for all

– Implementation of mixed land use to make more efficient use of land. The state governments will also have to adapt building byelaws and land use laws to help achieve this goal.

– Creating walkable localities and reducing congestion, air pollution, resource depletion etc. Road networks are to be upgraded not only for buses and vehicles, but also for pedestrians and cyclists, in addition to offering administrative services within walking or cycling distance.

– To develop open spaces like parks, playgrounds and recreational spaces and to decrease the urban heat effect in areas.

– Promotion of different transport options.

– Giving an identity to the city based on its main economic activity like textile, food, dairy etc.

– Applying connected solutions to infrastructure and services to make areas less vulnerable to disasters, provide cheaper services and use fewer resources.

Solutions to be offered: Cities will introduce various solutions like video crime monitoring, smart electricity meters, renewable energy generation, smart parking, automated traffic management, skill development centers etc. While the plans of individual cities have not been released yet, a basic illustrative list of what sort of solutions can be expected was released. Interestingly, some of these, like ‘Citizens – City’s Eyes and Ears’ are already being implemented in places. For eg, the Bangalore police started allowing citizens to report crimes through Periscope

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How it will be funded: States will have to use own resources from collecting user fees, impact fees, beneficiary charges, loans etc. States will also be provided with access to the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), which will likely be setup this year. Other than this, central government schemes like Swachh Bharat Mission, National Heritage City Development, AMRUT and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) will also sponsor the initiative. The Minister said that selected cities would be provided with Rs 200 crore the first year, and Rs 100 crore the subsequent years, although the state governments would have to match this amount. 

Note that in April this year, the Government of India approved the spending of around Rs 1 lakh crore on urban development under two new urban missions to be carried out over the next 5 years. The two missions that received approval are the Smart Cities mission, which would receive Rs 48,000 crore and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), which will receive Rs 50,000 crore respectively.

Watch the full video here:


Image source: Flickr user Thomas Hawk