New Delhi: There has been no "political discrimination" in the selection of first 20 smart cities, the Centre said today, amid allegations by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of bias against his state in selection process.
The government recently announced the first batch of 20 smart cities from 11 states and Delhi. "We have last week announced the first batch of winners of 20 smart cities. Some people are thinking that other cities are removed.
No cities have been removed. All 100 cities are there in the Smart City. But only thing is, the Budget said first year 20 cities, second year 40, and third year another 40," Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said here. Addressing the India Investment Summit, he said the selection of 20 smart cities was made through competition, which was totally objective and transparent.
"There is no political consideration at all. Some people are saying this state is not there, that state is not there. Every state is there. They are not in the first 20. If you have to be in the first 20, you have to work hard," he said.
Naidu said: "My own town is not there. Home minister town is not there. External Affairs Minister town is not there. Finance Minister town is also not there. Where is the question of political discrimination at all. There is no question".
After the release of the first list, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish and RJD president Lalu Prasad had attacked the Centre for not selecting any city of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the list of 20 chosen for converting them into smart cities.
"Bihar and UP gave 104 Lok Sabha seats to BJP to form its government at the Centre, but they are so 'Ehsaan pharamosh' (ungrateful) that no city of the two states figures in the list of 20 smart cities," Kumar had said.
Naidu said the government believes in the national transformation and wants to uplift infrastructure and living standards of every city in the country.
Apart from Bhubaneshwar, the cities in the first batch are Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bhopal, NDMC area of Delhi, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Jabalpur, Visakhapatnam, Solapur, Davanagere, Indore, Coimbatore, Kakinada, Belagavi, Udaipur, Guwahati and Ludhiana. Altogether 100 cities are to be developed into smart cities as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious programme.
For this, the Centre has earmarked Rs 48,000 crore and the states will have to contribute the equal amount. Under the programme, each selected city will be given Rs 500 crore over a period of five years by the Centre with the respective states expected to make the matching contribution.