Prime Minister Narendra Modi will formally launch the Rs 98,000 crore Smart City and AMRUT projects on June 25, in an attempt at transforming the urban infrastructure burdened with ever-growing population.
Modi will announce the implementation guidelines for the two big-ticket urban renewal projects – Smart City and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) – at Vigyan Bhawan in the presence of senior officials from state governments and Union Territories dealing with urban affairs including municipal commissioners and mayors.
“It (June 25) will be an important day for the urban development sector and thereafter the main challenge for state governments and urban local bodies to get things going for making effective use of huge investments by the Centre and other sources in the sector,” Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told PTI.
Naidu said the main objective of the twin projects is to change the landscape by addressing the issue of infrastructure gap in urban areas so that cities become more liveable, besides enhancing the business and investment climate for the benefit of the poor.
The Union Cabinet had some time ago cleared the projects — 100 Smart Cities and a new urban renewal mission for 500 cities named after former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, replacing the one christened after Jawaharlal Nehru, with a total outlay of Rs 98,000 crore for the next five years.
While Rs 48,000 cr has been earmarked for Smart City project, Rs 50,000 crore will be spent on AMRUT.
A senior Urban Development Ministry official said Modi will unveil the roadmap for developing 100 Smart Cities and 500 AMRUT cities at the launch. He will also announce the number of Smart Cities to be allotted to states and the quantum of Central grants.
The projects envisage recasting the urban landscape to make them more livable. Countries such as Singapore, Japan, France and the United States have shown interest in partnering with India on Smart City project.
Migration from rural areas have put a great burden on the existing civic infrastructure in cities, posing a major challenge for the town planners. There was an urgent need for development of urban infrastructure as population has increased many times in cities.
While 20 cities are likely to be shortlisted for the Smart City project in the first phase, 40 will be selected in the next stage to be followed by 40 more later.
Smart Cities are intended to enhance the quality of urban life by providing a clean and sustainable environment with 24 hour water and power supply. Sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transportation, affordable housing for poor, and robust IT connectivity among others are essential features of the project.
The project will be implemented through an area based approach comprising retrofitting and redevelopment, the official said.
Each Smart City aspirant will be selected through a ‘City Challenge Competition’ which intends to link financing with the ability of the cities to perform to achieve the objectives. Each state will shortlist a certain number of smart city aspirants as per the norms to be indicated and they will prepare smart city proposals for further evaluation for extending central support.
AMRUT will focus on ensuring basic infrastructure services such as water supply, sewerage, storm water drains, transport and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children.
Implementation will be linked to promotion of urban reforms such as e-governance, setting up of professional municipal cadre, improvement in assessment and collection of municipal taxes, credit rating of urban local bodies and citizen-centric urban planning.