Govt releases list of 98 cities that would become smart cities; doubts about funding linger

The Modi government today released a list of 98 cities which are going to be developed into smart cities. Among the 98 cities, 24 are state capitals.

The list , released by Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, includes 13 cities from Uttar Pradesh, 12 cities from Tamil Nadu, 10 from Maharashtra, seven from Madhya Pradesh, three from Bihar and three from Andhra Pradesh. (Check out here.)

 Govt releases list of 98 cities that would become smart cities; doubts about funding linger

The smart city dream. Reuters

Nine capital cities that were not nominated for the mission include Itanagar, Patna, Shimla, Bengaluru and Kolkata.

Talking about the project, Naidu said that the "prime motive behind the smart city project is to enhance urban life."

The government will be selecting 24 cities for the smart city project in the first year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the criteria and guidelines for 100 Smart Cities to be selected through city challenge competition in 25 June.

The Centre has earmarked Rs 48,000 crore for development of 100 smart cities. Each smart city would get a Central assistance of Rs 100 crore per year for five years.

However, experts have raised doubts as to whether this funding enough to implement a plan of grand scale like this.

Devendra Kumar Pant, chief economist, India Ratings & Research, said that selection of smart cities is the first step but the bigger challenge is to provide quality urban services such as 24X7 water supply, sanitation, drainage, solid waste management and sewage treatment.

"Looking at finances of urban local bodies, which are far from healthy, provision of these services will be challenging. Levying of user charges to recover cost of provision of these services will be crucial to maintain quality of these services. In the process of smart cities, focus should not divert from providing urban services in other cities and make them more liveable," he said.

Pant's concern about funding is not misplaced given the ambitious plan that is being drawn up. According to the government, some features of smart cities are promoting mixed land use in area based developments; housing and inclusiveness; creating walkable localities; preserving and developing open spaces; promoting a variety of transport options; making governance citizen-friendly and cost effective; giving an identity to the city; and applying smart solutions to infrastructure and services in area-based development.

In an earlier article in Firstpost, Madan Sbnavis, chief economist had said that one way out is to have a BOT (build-own-operate) system where the private sector gets involved.

"This is controversial as there will always be allegations that the government is handing over cities to the corporate world. But if this has worked well in roads there is no reason why this cannot be experimented with where the company gets rights to build, charge and then probably finally transfer the rights to the ULB (urban local body)."

However, he had pointed out that devising such a strategy will be ideologically difficult to accept as there is already common fear that corporates are controlling some policies.

Check out the full list of smart cities released today:

With inputs from agencies

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

Updated Date: Aug 28, 2015 12:09:51 IST