The Government of India has allowed nine more cities to take part in the upcoming Smart Cities Mission competition, thus taking the total number of cities that may be developed into smart cities to 109 from the previous 100.
While six state capitals—Patna, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Amaravati, Itanagar and Gangtok— have been allowed by the Union Ministry of Urban Development to take part in the next round of the competition, it has also allowed the governments of Jammu & Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh to nominate two cities each — Jammu and Srinagar, and Rae Bareli and Meerut, respectively.
Although a section of the media speculated ‘political compulsions’ as the reason for inclusion of these cities in contravention of the rules, a ministry spokesperson laid such ‘guess works’ to rest.
As per the guidelines announced last year, the smart cities would be selected through a two-stage process. First, a state would shortlist potential cities and send names to the Centre, then these nominated cities would compete with each other.
The entire process is incentive-based. The cities are selected on the basis of scores received by them for carrying out urban reforms in areas needing attention like sanitation and governance.
The Urban Development Ministry had selected 20 cities in January, 40 more will be added to the list by the end of 2016.
Each city will be given Rs 500 crore by the Centre over five years for development of the city into a smart city, and the state government will have to match the Centre’s contribution.