India unveils its 98 smart cities of the future

Last week, India’s Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu announced the list of 98 cities nominated for the Smart City Mission, which will see 130 million citizens covered under the initiative.

“There are 13 cities from Uttar Pradesh, 12 from Tamil Nadu, 10 from Maharashtra, seven from Madhya Pradesh, three each from Bihar and Andhra Pradesh included in the list,” Naidu said at a press conference. “Smart cities need smart people. We need people’s co-operation to move forward in our mission,” he added.

In terms of financial support, the central government is proposing to give Rs.48,000 crore to these cities over the next five years. “Around [130 million] population across 98 cities will be covered under the Smart City Mission. Making them smart will make them engines of economic growth besides giving decent life to the citizens,” Naidu said.

Smart cities to enhance urban life

India’s smart cities will enable a clean environment and provide smart solutions to problems, with the minister adding that the prime motive of the initiative was to enhance urban life.

“Smart cities will have the core infrastructure and will give a quality and decent life to citizens. It will enable a clean environment and provide smart solutions to problems,” he said. 

Investment

Hoping to attain ‘inclusive growth’, the Smart City Mission promotes integrated city planning, where the government’s policies such as Swachh Bharat Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation complement each other.

“Both national and international investors are looking for opportunities in the backdrop of the recent financial crisis,” said Naidu. “People are searching for safe investments. I offer smart cities as the safest investment because land is going to be there, structures are going to be there, so the returns are assured.”

Surprise as some capital cities did not qualify

Out of the 98 cities announced, nine capital cities, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Shimla, Puducherry, Daman, Patna, Itanagar, Thiruvananthapuram and Gangtok did not qualify. “This non-inclusion goes to prove that the selection in the first stage of competition was not swayed by the status or importance of the cities and the selection was objective and as per the stipulated criteria,” Naidu said. 

Of the 98 cities and towns that five years down will graduate into smart cities, 24 are capital cities, another 24 are business and industrial centres, 18 are culture and tourism influenced areas, five are port cities and three are education and health care hubs.

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