Odisha capital Bhubaneswar pipped all other competing cities in the country to gain the top rank in the Smart Cities contest, followed by Pune and Jaipur. The result was announced on Thursday by Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu at a press conference in New Delhi.
The other cities that made it to the illustrious list are Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur, Vishakhapatnam, Solapur, Davangere, Indore, Coimbatore, Kakinada, Belgaum, Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana and Bhopal.
"The idea of smart cities has aroused an unprecedented enthusiasm ever since it was first mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014," Naidu said at the presser.
"Nobody can stop an idea whose time has come. This applies more to the launch of Smart City Mission in our country,"he said.
"Today marks a historic landmark in the annals of urban development in our country as we get to know the first batch of smart cities," the minister said. "This announcement marks a paradigm shift in our approach to urban development in the country."
Ahead of announcing the list of winners, Naidu said, "I feel honoured to be associated with such a shift in strategy; even more delighted to announce first batch of 20 winners."
PM Modi congratulated the winners on Twitter.
Congrats to winners of #SmartCityChallenge. I wish the cities the very best as they move forward with implementation & transform urban India
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 28, 2016
Explaining the criteria of qualification, the minister said, "Smart City Challenge required cities to come up with integrated plans, proposals, so that there is maximum analysis, planning. Smart City plans will demonstrate how integrated planning and smart technologies can deliver better quality of life. The Smart City Challenge Competition was as rigorous and demanding as the civil services competition conducted by UPSC."
He also said, "Citizen participation has been mandatory for preparation of smart city plans for which a weightage of 16 percent was given. A total of 15.20 million (1.52 crore) citizens have participated in the preparation of smart city plans at various stages."
Praising the unprecedented response from the citizens, the minister said, "@mygovindia enlisted an unprecedented response from citizens with 2.50 million (25 lakhs) sharing their views. 'Bottom up’ approach has been the key planning principle under Smart City Mission. The results of the competition revealed the unrecognized strength of the federal structure in our country."
Naidu said that the Smart City Plans were prepared by the urban local bodies and the states and there was practically no role for urban development ministry.
"A total investment of Rs 50,802 crore has been proposed in the selected smart cities and towns during the five year period,"the minister said.
"In terms of population, these 20 cities account for 3.54 crore people," Naidu said.
Speaking on Urban Development Challenges and Way ahead on Wednesday, the minister had said that perpetuation of inequities in urban areas has serious implications for national security and hence, the government is committed to ensure inclusive development under new initiatives like Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart City Mission, Swachh Bharat and Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana (Urban).
Emphasising the need for sustainable urban development, Naidu said “cities should be water positive through water harvesting, recycling and reuse of water, energy positive with each household resorting to renewable sources of energy and community positive facilitating interactive neighbourhoods”.