Politics of smart city selection: How Jammu, Srinagar became part of challenge

Among cities that will take part in the smart city contest third round are Jammu and Kashmir's capital Srinagar, and Jammu city.

According to an official statement, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu gave assurance to Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh at Guwahati that both the cities would be part of the smart city project.

He also tweeted earlier that both these cities will be there in the challenge.

The Deputy Chief Minister, while making the case for taking up the two cities under the Smart City project, said it has been a long-pending demand of the state and has been taken up at various fora already.

Apart from Srinagar and Jammu, there are other cities also going to be part of the next challenge such as Bangalore and Amaravati, the new capital city Andhra Pradesh.

However, with the targeted number of smart cities increasing to 109 or so from the stated 100, signals are emerging that the challenge is not all that insulated from politics.

Representational image. IBNLive

Representational image. IBNLive

A report in The Indian Express on Wednesday cites officials at the ministry of urban affairs as saying that despite the insistance on objectivity and merit, the selection process has indeed geopolitics as its under current.

There are two cases in point here: J&K and Uttar Pradesh. While J&K was supposed to have only one city, the state has been allowed to have two cities in the challenge. This is because there were fears that there could be AIIMS-like agitation if only one city was allowed to participate.

It is to be remembered that the first list of 20 cities did not have any city from J&K. According to this report in The Hindu, the agenda of alliance between PDP and BJP in March 2015 had a promise to "include the winter capital, Jammu, and the summer capital, Srinagar, in the ‘Smart Cities project".

The present move seems to be an attempt to keep the promise.

The case of Uttar Pradesh is also not different. While the state government had zeroed in on Raebareli, the BJP MP from Meerut had a problem for not including the city in the contest, says the IE report.

Again, state capitals including Patna, Shimla, Itanagar, Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram have also been included in the challenge. And this is after chief minister of some of these states communicated to Naidu personally.

Clearly, politics has crept into the smart city selection process.

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Updated Date: May 25, 2016 09:58:41 IST

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