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Govt announces 98 smart city nominees

The government announced the list of 98 cities which will now compete for the second stage of the smart cities challenge to secure central assistance of Rs 200 crore in the first year followed by Rs 100 crore each year during the next three years.

Out of these 98 cities and towns, 24 are capital cities, another 24 are business and industrial centres, 18 are of cultural and tourism importance, 5 are port cities and 3 are education and healthcare hubs, Union Minister for Urban Development M Venkaih Naidu informed.

These cities and towns were nominated by respective States and Union Territories at the end of first stage of ‘City Challenge’ competition in which all the urban local bodies in each State and UT were evaluated based on their financial and institutional capacities and past track record.

Mr Naidu observed that 65 small and medium towns and cities making to the list of smart city aspirants is a welcome feature since making them smart would lay good foundation for better urban management when they further expand.

“Nine capital cities namely Itanagar, Patna, Shimla, Bengaluru, Daman, Thiruvananthapuram, Puducherry, Gangtok and Kolkata failed to be selected and this goes to prove that the smart city selection was not influenced by the stature or importance of the cities,” Mr Naidu claimed.

He further informed that two more cities would be announced in due course since the Jammu & Kashmir government sought more time to make up its choice while additional information was sought from the Uttar Pradesh government regarding the 13th smart city slot allotted to that state.

The Minister said that the 98 cities selected under Smart City Mission have a population of about 13 crore accounting for over 35 per cent of the country’s urban population. He further said that under Smart City Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), 80 per cent of total urban population would benefit from enhanced quality of living.

All the selected cities will have to prepare city level smart city plans and these will be evaluated in the second stage of competition based on a broad set of criteria to pick up the top scoring 20 cities for financing during this financial year. Funds may be released to these 20 cities by the end of this year, he said. Others will be asked to improve upon the identified deficiencies before participating in the next two rounds of competition.

Those cities to be selected in the second stage of competition would be provided with central assistance of Rs 200 crore in the first year followed by Rs 100 crore each year during the next three years, the Minister informed.

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