Naidu rubbishes bias on Smart Cities selections

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Pune, Jan. 29 (ANI): Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday rubbished allegations of bias in determining which cities would form part of the NDA regime’s “smart city”project.

He said that the selections were done on merit and without political interference.

“I have only honoured the merit, this is my only role. Nothing has been decided in Delhi, we have only issued guidelines and set parameters and the selection of the city is based on merit, nothing else. No political interference and party consideration was there in the process,” Naidu told media here.

“Experts from the World Bank, the Germany development bank, from the Indian Institute of Urban Affairs and prestigious people formed a panel who examined the proposals of each city,” he added.

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Naidu further said that his ministry had taken the average of all the three panels and gave the ranking accordingly.

“Bhubaneswar topped the ranking and Pune came second in that,” he added.

The Congress Party had earlier alleged that the Centre has insulted both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh with motive of ‘political vendetta’ after none of the cities in both the states could make it to the first Smart City contest.

Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu clarified that the final selection of cities was based on ‘bottoms up’ approach with the involvement of citizens in formulation of vision and plan. Urban local bodies and state governments piloted the mission. He added the ministry did not play any role in the selection.

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The Centre will give each city Rs 500 crore over five years under the Modi government’s smart city mission. The Centre had pledged to spend Rs 48,000 crore in five years to elevate 100 localities to the status of smart cities.

Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur, Visakhapatnam, Solapur, Davanagere, Indore, Coimbatore, Kakinada, Belagavi, Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana and Bhopal are the other cities selected in the first batch. (ANI)

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