Citizens, civic bodies to decide on smart cities: Modi

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) Smart cities will be decided by citizens and municipalities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Thursday, adding neither the central nor the state governments will decide about these cities’ development.

“For the first time such an approach is being taken where neither the Centre nor states will decide. The decision to become a smart city will be taken by the citizens themselves, by the municipalities,” Modi said launching three missions on Smart Cities, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, and Housing for All.

The three programmes are aimed at bettering the quality of urban living and drive economic growth. The central government has committed to spend about Rs.400,000 crore on these missions over the next six years.

“The city’s vision towards its future development is necessary for any programme’s success. Otherwise it will get bogged down, where state-level departments and agencies are awaiting directions from the centre, while cities are awaiting a decision from the state governments,” he said.

“It will be a selection process for smart cities according to parameters, and thereafter the Centre and states will come in to help realise it. Competition is critical factor for the success of the programme,” Modi added.

Smart City aspirants will be selected through a “City Challenge Competition” intended to link financing with the city’s ability to achieve the mission objectives.

Cities must qualify themselves through city-challenge criteria such as sanitation, clean water, power, greenery quotient and ratio between revenue and expenditure on municipal salaries.

Each selected city would get central assistance of Rs.100 crore per year for five years.

Under the Smart Cities Mission, 100 new smart cities, which would promote adoption of smart solutions for efficient use of available assets and enhance the quality of urban life, would be made.

Modi said the country’s 40 percent population lives in cities and “it is the responsibility of the government to uplift their standards of life”.

“We cannot leave them to their fate,” Modi said.

Mentioning the challenge of a rising population, he said all possible avenues should be explored to find the resources for urban development.

Observing that a house was the turning point in the lives of poor, which leads towards a better life, he said the government’s effort was to not just provide a house, but also provide the right environment to live life to the fullest.

Citing the existing housing shortage of two crore units, he said India was completing 75 years of independence in 2022, and by then, “it was our responsibility to provide a house for everyone”.

Modi also released logos and taglines for the three missions launched.

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