100 SMART CITIES 500 TOWNS: Upgrade Plan Gets Final Nod

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The wait for final stamp of approval by the Cabinet is over. The Cabinet, late April 2015, approved Modi government’s two flagship schemes – 100 smart cities and urban rejuvenation program for 500 towns and cities. The idea is to recast the urban landscape and to make such  areas more livable and inclusive, besides driving economic growth.

Work is to be undertaken for smaller cities and towns with 100,000 or more population under a new
scheme named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee – Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). Centre will spend Rs 50,000 crore for this scheme. This will be the new scheme in place of JNNURM named after India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru.

Under the smart cities scheme each city selected through a “city challenge” competition would get central assistance of Rs 100 crore per year for five years. To begin about 20 cities would be selected after the state governments come forward with names of cities they want nominated.

The criteria for competition would be linked to financing with the ability of the cities to perform and achieve mission objectives. The smart cities mission intends to promote adoption of smart solutions for efficient use of available assets, resources and infrastructure with the objective of enhancing the quality of urban life and providing a clean and
sustainable environment.

AMRUT To Transform Small Towns

The government is emphasizing on citizens’ participation in prioritizing and planning urban interventions. AMRUT will focus on ensuring basic infrastructure services such as water supply, sewerage, storm water drains, transport and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children.

There will be special focus on adequate and clean water supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient transportation, affordable housing for the poor, power supply, robust IT connectivity, e-governance, safety and security of citizens, health and education.

Implementation of this mission will be linked to promotion of urban reforms such as e-governance, setting up of professional municipal cadre, devolving funds and functions to urban local bodies, review of building bye-laws, improvement in assessment and collection of municipal taxes, credit rating of urban local bodies, energy and water audit and citizencentric urban planning.

Central assistance will be to the extent of 50% of project cost for cities and towns with population of up to 10 lakh and one-third of the project cost for those with a population of above 10 lakh. Central assistance will be released in three installments in the ratio of 20:40:40 based on achievement of milestones indicated in state annual action plans. “AMRUT seeks to lay a foundation to enable cities and towns to eventually grow into smart cities,” an official noted.

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