Union Minister for Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday asked the first batch of 20 cities selected in the first round of competition to launch respective smart city projects by 25th of June this year marking the one year of launch of the Mission by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year. He addressed a workshop ‘India Smart City Mission : Next Steps’ in New Delhi today.
Senior officials from States and Union Territories and Municipal Commissioners of the 20 top ranked cities and 23 cities participating in the Fast Track Competition attended the day long workshop to discuss the way forward.
Naidu asserted that the Smart City Competition was completely city neutral neither favouring nor discriminating against any participant city. Elaborating on this, he said that the evaluating criteria including implementation framework, result orientation, citizen participation, smartness of solutions, city vision and strategy, processes followed etc do not favour or go against any city.
The Minister said, ‘What mattered is not where a city stands now but where it likes to go and how it proposes to go based on a vision drawn from the inherent strengths of a city and backed by a credible action plan.”
Referring to the top 20 ranked cities, Naidu noted that, “lesser known Davanagere in Karnataka and Solpaur in Maharashtra scored higher than the well known New Delhi Municipal Council. Little known Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh did much better than the mighty Chennai in terms of ranks. I see no reason why Bhagalpur in Bihar, Ranchi in Jharkhand and Dehradun in Uttarakhand could not do what Belagavi in Karnataka did in coming out with a sound vision and a credible strategy to realise it and making it to the top 20”.
Naidu said that several political leaders met him and said that the competition based selection of cities based on a set of rules is all fine but it brought pressure on them with people asking why not a single city from their states made it to the Top 20. If competition could make political leadership at various levels focus on urban planning and governance, it is a positive outcome since urban governance can no longer be business as usual, he said.
The Minister further said that, “Smart city competition is so designed to pick up the cities capable of making the smart city journey board the train first and every chosen city gets to do so after they are made worthy of such a journey over a period of 3 years”.
Naidu urged the 23 cities participating in the Fast Track competition like Warangal, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Bhagalpur, Dehradun etc., to improve their proposals by learning from the experience of the first batch of 20 cities and asked the top 20 cities to get going by operationalizing Special Purpose Vehicles and launching smart city projects.
Municipal Commissioners of top ranked cities viz., Bhubaneswar, Pune and Jaipur made presentations on various aspects of making winning proposals.