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NO POLITICAL BIASES; 1st LOT OF 20 SMART CITIES SELECTED AFTER COMPETITION AS RIGOROUS AS CIVIL SERVICES

Naidu said that the selection process was as rigorous as the civil services examination process, and that the competition had been designed in a manner to check the “best possible contenders”

Venkaiah Naidu

NEW DELHI, January 28: The Narendra Modi government took another step towards the realisation of its Smart Cities dream, with the announcement of first lot of 20 smart cities on Thursday, that were picked from a list of 97 cities submitted by states, as part of a competition last year. However, as soon as the government came out with the announcement, conspiracy theories abounded that the two states that propelled the BJP and Modi to power at the Centre – Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – didn’t figure in the list at all. Together the two states gave the ruling party at the Centre 103 out of 120 seats. As against this non-representation of these two states was the fact that some states have got two cities figuring in the Top 20 list. By way of explanation, Union Urban Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said that the Centre had “no role or influence” in deciding the 20 winners. This showed that the selection process was fair. Naidu said that the selection process was as rigorous as the civil services examination process, and that the competition had been designed in a manner to check the “best possible contenders”. To qualify the states had to answer a list of 43 questions. Apart from UP and Bihar, West Bengal has no representation at all in the new list. The cities which didn’t qualify in this list however need not lose heart. They only need to concentrate on their shortcomings and prepare for the Round 2, slated for April. Assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management systems, efficient urban mobility and public transportation, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation are some of the highlights of the initiative. “Nobody can stop an idea whose time has come and this applies to the Smart City (initiative as well),” Naidu said while announcing the list of cities that were selected through the Competition. Congratulating the winners of the competition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “I wish the cities the very best as they move forward with implementation and transform urban India”. “For the first time in the country and perhaps in the world, investments in urban development are being made based on a competition among cities. The results of the competition revealed the unrecognised strength of our federal structure,” he said. The cities in the first list have made it to the top of the competition based on implementation framework, including feasibility and cost-effectiveness, which had a weightage of 30 per cent, followed by result orientation (20 pc), citizen participation (16 pc), smartness of proposal (10 pc), strategic plan (10 pc), vision and goals (5 pc), evidence- based city profiling and key performance indicators (5 pc) and processes followed (4 pc). A bottom-up rather than top-down approach has been the key planning principle under Smart City Mission, he said. The list of 20 smart cities chosen after the completion is given below: 1. Bhubaneswar, Odisha 2. Pune, Maharashtra 3. Jaipur, Rajasthan 4. Surat, Gujarat 5. Kochi, Kerala 6. Ahmedabad, Gujarat 7. Jabalpur, Rajasthan 8. Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh 9. Sholapur, Maharashtra 10. Davangere, Karnataka 11. Indore, Madhya Pradesh 12. New Delhi Municipal Corporation 13. Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 14. Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh 15. Belagaum, Karnataka 16. Udaipur, Rajasthan 17. Guwahati, Assam 18. Chennai, Tamil Nadu 19. Ludhiana, Punjab 20. Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh