‘City Challenge’ to select ‘smart cities’

Venkaiah Naidu says only deserving civic bodies will get aid

Only “deserving cities” will be eligible for Central aid under flagship programmes such as the “smart city” initiative, Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said here on Friday.

At a consultative workshop for municipal commissioners from nine States, Mr. Naidu said financing would be based on the ability of urban local bodies to reform urban governance and rise to new challenges.

He said the Ministry was currently working on a “City Challenge” framework, which would help identify the right cities for participation in schemes to build 100 smart cities, develop 500 cities and towns and so on.

All cities and towns seeking to participate in these schemes would be profiled based on specific parameters that had a bearing on their ability to address issues of governance reforms, resource mobilisation, execution and so on, the Minister said.

“While addressing the issue of geographical spread, only the deserving will be assisted,” he said pointing out that “a radical reorientation of mindsets and methodologies is the need of the hour to convert rapid urbanisation into an economic opportunity.”

He expressed concern over the “appalling state” of affairs in urban areas, marked by “weak urban governance structures, uninspiring leadership at the level of both selected and elected urban managers, poor inventory management and resource base, weak urban planning and execution, urban mobility being a nightmarish experience, housing shortage, inadequate water and power supply and despicable management of solid waste and treatment of sewerage, etc.”

Mr. Naidu said about Rs. 40 lakh crore was required for provision of basic infrastructure, besides another Rs. 20 lakh crore for operation and maintenance of urban utilities over the next 20 years, another Rs. 15 lakh crore for meeting the housing shortage and Rs. 60,009 crore for sanitation.

10-point charter

The Minister suggested a 10-point charter to be ensured for each city — master plans and sanitation plans; long-term urban development plans for districts and city mobility plans; strategies for promotion of renewable energy sources; regulatory bodies for pricing of water and power; assessment and revision of taxes; assessing creditworthiness to mobilise resources from appropriate sources; promoting water harvesting and water recycling; promoting citizens in urban planning, decision-making and management; capacity-building in key disciplines; and improving urban governance through adoption of ICT platforms.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 8:18:03 PM |

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