The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared Prime Minister Narendra Modis pet projects 100 smart cities spread across the country and a new urban renewal mission named after Atal Bihari Vajpayee, replacing the existing one named after Jawaharlal Nehru, with a total outlay of Rs 98,000 crore for the next five years.
The move is expected to recast the urban landscape of the country to make them more livable and inclusive. The smart cities project was announced in July 2014 in the Union Budget. Countries such as Singapore, Japan, France and the United States have shown interest in partnering with India on this project.
"Unchecked migration from rural areas with very little civic infrastructure towards urban agglomerations has continued to be the biggest challenge for the country. This has further added to the woes of urban clusters which could not plan for the ever burgeoning influx. The basic idea of spreading development across 500 cities makes it an unique concept towards a bottom up approach,Gulam Zia, Executive Director, Knight Frank India told Firstpost.
While the Smart Cities Mission will get an outlay of Rs 48,000 crore, the AMRUT mission will received Rs 50,000 crore over the next five years. In comparison, the central outlay for nine years of the JNNURM mission was Rs 42,900 crore.
Here is all you need to know about it:
1.City challenge competition: Each Smart City aspirant will be selected through a 'City Challenge Competition' intended to link financing with the ability of the cities to perform to achieve the mission 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. According to a report in the Business Standard, only about 20 cities are likely to be shortlisted in the first phase.
2. Selected city will get Rs 100 crore a year for 5 years from the govt: Each selected city under the scheme would get Central assistance of Rs 100 crore a year for five years. The remaining money has to come from the states, urban bodies and the consortium that they form with corporate entities. The mission aims to release funds depending on multi-pronged progress of the projects and makes citizen participation an integral part of the planning of these cities. Central assistance will be to the extent of 50 percent of project cost for cities and towns with a population of up to 10 lakh and one-third of the project cost for those with a population of above 10 lakh.
3. All states will get at least one smart city: A Special Purpose Vehicle will be created for each city to implement Smart City action plan. The SPV will be signed with the urban local body, state government and the Centre for implementation of the project.
4. Smart Cities Council India has been formed to promote development of smart cities in the country. It is part of the US-based Smart Cities Council, which is a consortium of smart city practitioners and experts, with a 100-plus member and advisor organizations operating in over 140 countries.
5. Focus on core infra services The Mission of building 100 smart cities intends to promote adoption of smart solutions for efficient use of available assets, resources and infrastructure with the objective of enhancing the quality of urban life and providing a clean and sustainable environment, the government said. Focus will be on core infrastructure services like adequate and clean water supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transportation, affordable housing for poor, power supply and robust IT connectivity, it added. Also e-governance and citizen participation, safety and security of citizens, health and education and sustainable urban environment will receive attention. This will be implemented through an 'area based' approach consisting of retrofitting, redevelopment, pan-city initiatives and development of new cities.
6. Which cities gain the most? According to Zia, cities like Varanasi, Vizag, Ajmer etc. can stand to draw huge benefits out of this mission because the Smart City Mission is ambitiously widespread to include water supply, sanitation, waste management, transportation, housing for poor, power supply, among others. So for a mid-sized city these aspects can be comfortably worked upon within the average budgetary allocation of 500 crore per city.
But for a city like Mumbai wherein transportation projects like the Trans Harbour Link or the Metro Phaze 3 can itself cost upwards of Rs 10,000 crore each, the proposed amount may not even suffice for a fraction of the interest cost of these projects.
7. AMRUT, which seeks to lay a foundation to enable cities and towns to eventually grow into smart cities, will be implemented in 500 locations with a population of one lakh and above. These include cities situated on stems of main rivers, a few capital cities and important cities located in hilly areas and tourist spots. Under this mission, states will get flexibility of designing schemes that best suit their needs. Assistance from the centre for AMRUT will amount to 50 percent of project cost for cities and towns with a population of up to a million and one-third of the project cost for those with a population of above a million. Central assistance will be released in three instalments in the ratio of 20:40:40 based on achievements.
8. 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, devolving funds and functions to urban local bodies, review of building bye-laws, improvement in assessment and collection of municipal taxes, credit rating of urban local bodies, energy and water audit and citizen-centric urban planning.
9 Smart City Council will release a guide to help urban planners understand the framework of smart cities : The Smart City Council India will launch a Smart City Readiness Guide for India in September 2015, according to a report in Business Today, which will serve as a a vendor neutral framework for smart cities. The guide will reportedly have 100 case studies in terms of smart practices from various Indian cities across private and government initiatives. The guide would also enable city leaders and urban planners to understand the comprehensive framework of a smart city and take actionable steps toward major city infrastructure improvements.
10. What's the next step? "The next step is identification of the 100 cities and for this a city challenge competition to be conducted by Bloomberg Philanthropies is envisaged. The current plan looks to select 20 cities this year followed by 40 each in the next two successive years," says Rohan Sharma, Associate Director - Research & Real Estate Intelligence Service, JLL India.
According to Sharma, the focus in the first phase is likely to be on the Tier 1 cities. He believes emphasis should also be put on creating newer centres of economic growth with physical and civic infrastructure improvement and hence other cities, especially in the North East and lesser-developed parts of the country.
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