Selection in second stage of competition only on merit; no state-wise caps: UD Ministry

Smart-City-2Only those cities whose Smart City Plans come up to the expectations will be picked up and there will be no state-wise caps for selection of cities in the second round of competition, Ministry of Urban Development said in an official release.

In the Smart City Idea Camp, which concluded with active participation of the State Governments, Mayors and Municipal Commissioners, Madhusudhan Prasad, Secretary, Urban Development said that selection of smart city aspirants in the second stage of City Challenge Competition will be based only on merit. The Ministry is not obliged to pick up 20 cities for financing during this current financial year, Prasad said.

Organised by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the camp brought elected and executive heads of urban local bodies face to face with experts from India and abroad in areas of urban planning and execution besides helping them know of successful models of city development.

During the camp, several issues were raised by the representatives of states and urban local bodies regarding implementation of Smart City Mission and the same were clarified by the concerned senior officials of the Ministry of Urban Development.

One of the issues raised by the States and Mayors was to give appropriate weightage for Pan-City Smart solutions while evaluating the Smart City Plans in the second stage of City Challenge Competition given the benefits that flow from them to larger sections of people in urban areas. After discussing this suggestion with Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu who is on an official visit to France, the Ministry officials assured the participants that it will be given due consideration.

As per Mission Guidelines, a Smart City Plan shall have proposals either for Retrofitting, Redevelopment and Greenfield Projects or a combination of them besides at least one Pan-City Smart Solution to benefit citizens across a city. These solutions relate to e-governance, water and energy management, Intelligent Transport Systems, Tele-medicine, etc.

Urban Development Ministry further clarified that under Pan-City Smart Solutions, investments will be only for using technology to enhance the efficient use of infrastructure and accordingly, fitting GPS and Intelligent Transport System equipment on buses is allowed while procurement of buses is not. Procurement of buses is allowed under AMRUT.

The Ministry also clarified that the central assistance of Rs.500 per each of the 100 Mission Cities is not project specific and the same can be used for any component of the Smart City Plan conforming to the Mission Guidelines.

Regarding a suggestion that the Ministry of Urban Development may come out with a Model Smart City Plan, the Ministry clarified that it does not intend to do so since Smart City Plans are city specific and past experience had shown that such model documents tend to be copied without any application of mind.

Urban local bodies were urged to prepare smart city vision statements based on detailed analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT).

Experts from the country and abroad stressed on the need for building trust of people around the Smart City proposals through their involvement in prioritisation of projects besides acting on small projects before moving on to big ones. In nut shell, the message to Mayors and urban local bodies was to develop cities which are pro-people and pro-environment in a transparent and cost effective manner.

The participants were given an account of strategic planning adopted for development of various cities like Washington, Oakland (California), London, Barcelona, Beijing, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Medellin, Istanbul, Mumbai etc with an analysis of challenges overcome and shortcomings thereof.

A case study of Medellin, Colombia was presented bringing out how the city known as the most violent city in 1991 with 391 deaths per 1,00,000 habitants was turned into the City of the Year in 2012 through a process of Social Urbanism. It was explained that the strategy included ending segregation of localities and promoting social inclusion and involvement of communities in city development.


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