Implementation of the Smart City project in 60 towns will entail an investment of Rs 1.35 lakh crore and 20 cities have started rolling out their schemes, says Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu.
While there is a stiff competition among states to get smart city projects in their cities, Uttar Pradesh has so far not shown any interest in the mega scheme, a brain child of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, says the Minister.
The results on the ground of the game changer scheme will be visible soon as the first batch of 20 cities are starting to roll out a range of projects to ensure better living, Naidu told PTI in an interview.
He said smart city mission is a huge landmark and a distinct departure from the past as far as the country’s approach to urban development is concerned.
“Cities are now imbibed with a new consciousness to do things differently and with a spirit of competition.
Accordingly, this mission is the corner stone of urban renaissance set in motion by this government.
“Under Smart City Mission, a total investment of about Rs 1,35,000 crore has been proposed by the 60 cities that have so far been identified for financing smart city plans. This is a huge leap forward as against the meager investments for urban development in the past,” he said.
Identifying waste management as a challenge, Naidu said cities across India generate around 65 million tones of solid waste every year and government has drawn up a plan to convert the refuse into 50 lakh tones of compost and generate over 400 MW of power from it.
Naidu was critical of Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh for not being forthcoming in taking advantage of Centre’s various urban development schemes including the smart cities project.
On a query about funding of the projects, Naidu said most of the finances have been tied up with various funding agencies like Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
He, however, said the funding agencies wanted the assurance that the “system would be stable” and they will be get their money back. “Nobody is going to do charity. The payment is assured with providing credit ratings to the cities,” he said.
Underlining that lots of foreign entities have evinced interest to invest in smart city projects, he said, “34 ambassadors or ministers who have met me from different countries have shown their keen interest to invest in smart cities.”
Asked about allegation that smart cities are against slum dwellers, Naidu said, “These are all meaningless allegation.
You want slum dwellers to be slum dwellers so that they can be vote dwellers for you forever.”
He said the slum dwellers are also in the scheme of things in the smart city with housing being an important integral part of the mission.
“What is smart city? Smart city is providing better life condition to the people, improving their living standards through transforming cities,” he said.
Naidu says the smart city concept has caught the “imagination of the people” and cities are competing with each other to improve in the set of parameters.
“To create smart cities, you need smart people. Smart not in height, weight, coat, boot, soot but in vision and action.
Now it (the smart city concept) has caught the imagination of the people and cities are trying to improve themselves, with an element of competition, to improve in the set of parameters,” he said.
Terming the mission as the “flavour of the season”, he says several people, including MPs, have urged him to sanction smart cities for their regions.
On solid waste management, Naidu says piling heaps of garbage in cities is not only a visual nuisance but has huge health implications.
“To address this problem, we are focusing on door-to-door collection of solid waste, its transportation and scientific processing. About 65 million tones of solid waste in generated every year in our cities and towns.
“The target is make about 50 lakh tones of compost and generate over 400 MW of electricity every year from this solid waste,” he says.
(With inputs from PTI)