Minister for urban development M Venkaiah Naidu has asked the first batch of 20 cities selected in the first round of competition to launch respective smart city projects by 25 June this year marking the first project after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the mission last year.
He was addressing a day-long workshop on 'India Smart City Mission : Next Steps' attended by senior officials from states and union territories and municipal commissioners of the 20 top-ranked cities and 23 cities participating in the fast-track competition in New Delhi on Monday.
Naidu asserted that the smart city competition was completely city neutral - neither favouring nor discriminating against any participant city, adding that the evaluating criteria, including implementation framework, result orientation, citizen participation, smartness of solutions, city vision and strategy, processes followed etc do not favour or go against any city.
The minister said "what mattered is not where a city stands now but where it likes to go and how it proposes to go based on a vision drawn from the inherent strengths of a city and backed by a credible action plan".
Referring to the top 20 ranked cities, Naidu said a ''lesser known Davanagere in Karnataka and Solpaur in Maharashtra scored higher than the well known New Delhi Municipal Council. Little known Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh did much better than the mighty Chennai in terms of ranks. I see no reason why Bhagalpur in Bihar, Ranchi in Jharkhand and Dehradun in Uttarakhand could not do what Belagavi in Karnataka did in coming out with a sound vision and a credible strategy to realise it and making it to the top 20''.
''Several political leaders met me and said that the competition based selection of cities based on a set of rules is all fine but it brought pressure on them with people asking why not a single city from their states made it to the top 20. If competition could make political leadership at various levels focus on urban planning and governance, it is a positive outcome since urban governance can no longer be business as usual''.
''Smart city competition is so designed to pick up the cities capable of making the smart city journey board the train first and every chosen city gets to do so after they are made worthy of such a journey over a period of three years,'' he noted.
Naidu urged the 23 cities participating in the fast track competition like Warangal, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Bhagalpur, Dehradun etc to improve their proposals by learning from the experience of the first batch of 20 cities and asked the top 20 cities to get going by operationalising special purpose vehicles and launching smart city projects.
Municipal commissioners of top ranked cities, viz, Bhubaneswar, Pune and Jaipur made presentations on various aspects of making winning proposals.