34 countries have shown interest in Smart cities project, says Venkaiah

Updated by admin on Thursday, September 01, 2016 06:50 PM IST

Union minister for Urban Development and Information and Broadcasting, Venkaiah Naidu, has said that 34 countries were interested in associating with the Smart cities project in India. The minister said the Union government had cleared 40 more cities for inclusion in the project, in addition to the 20 already announced.
Addressing the Regional Editors Conference formediapersons in South India in Chennai, Venkaiah Naidu said 20 more cities would be approved in the final phase of selection. In all, 100 cities would be covered under the Smart cities project. 
The second phase of selection of 40 cities had been completed. The panel of the ministry had approved these locations on the basis of assessments of their potential to complete the project in accordance with the norms, their ability to raise resources and potential. He said the Centre would provide Rs 500 crore to each of these cities in phases, and the State governments concerned would have to raise matching resouces, as also the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).  
Venkaiah said the announcement of the second list of 40 cities would be made shortly.
The minister said at least 34 countries had shown interest in investment for these projects. These countries included the U.S., UK, Japan, France, Switzerland, singapore and so on. There was no partisanship in the selection of these cities, he said adding that scientific criteria had been adopted to judge a State by these parameters.
The Chennai metro rail projects were proceeding as per the schedule, he said.
The minister said the urban agenda had been mainstreamed ending decades of neglect to ensure better living and economic growth. In the last two years, more work had been completed than in the previous ten years. 
The Southern States were in the forefront of enabling housing for urban poor, he said adding that investment of about Rs. 51,000 crore had been approved for basic urban and housing infrastructure in southern States during last one year.
Expressing serious concern over the acute deficit in urban infrastructure in the country, Venkaiah Naidu said that the Union Government had mainstreamed the urban agenda, ending decades long neglect. He spoke of a range of challenges in the urban sector and the concerted efforts launched to address the same while addressing the ‘Regional Editors Conference’ in Chennai. 
Comparing the initiatives taken during 2004-14 and the last two years, Naidu noted that “in a very short period, we have either exceeded or close to what was done under 10 years of JNNURM in respect of all comparable and measurable parameters”. In support of his assertion, aidu stated that the Union Government was committed to provide central assistance of Rs.1.13 lakh crore  for improving urban infrastructure (excluding housing infrastructure) which is 333% increase over Rs.33,902 cr that w.as approved under 10 years of JUUNRM during 2004-14.
Under the new urban missions, total central assistance of Rs.53,747 crore to States and urban local bodies has been already approved for release which is almost at par with the total central assistance of Rs.54,974 crore that was approved in the previous ten years, including for housing for urban poor. Grant of about Rs.87,000 crore qasis being directly made available to urban local bodies over a period of five years from 2015-16 as against only Rs.23,000 crore during the last five years. In addition, share of States in divisible revenues has been increased to 42% from the earlier 32%.
Naidu explained that the scale and pace of project approvals and resource flows had been enhanced through a paradigm shift in the approaches that include extensive one year long stakeholder consultations including with citizens, urban local bodies and State Governments, objective selection of cities and towns under different new urban missions, introduction of innovative competition based selection of cities under Smart City Mission and incentivizing implementation of reforms for better urban governance. These measures had resulted in a new consciousness and a spirit of healthy competition among urban local bodies and States, he said. 
The Minister stated that southern States were in the forefront of implementation of housing projects for urban poor. He added that though southern States account for 27% of urban population of the country, they have got 3.80 lakh houses sanctioned accounting for 42% of the 8.99 lakh houses sanctioned. Naidu said that out of the total investment of Rs.1,80,213 crore approved so far under new urban missions for the country, share of southern States was Rs.50,959 crore.   


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