Adding a touch of urgency to the development of Smart Cities, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu has told the 20 cities which were selected in the programme to launch their projects by June 25. He also urged the cities in the ‘fast track’ category (like Chandigarh, Warangal and Bhagalpur ) to fine-tune their proposals based on the knowledge gained by the experience of the first 20 cities.
He was attending a workshop on ‘India Smart City Mission: Next Steps’ in New Delhi. The minister made it clear that the funds allocated for the Smart City projects should not be used for any other purpose. He reiterated that the allocation of the Smart Cities was done purely on merit and there was no preference given to cities from BJP-ruled states. Naidu appealed to the citizens to cooperate to make this project a success. “What matters is not where a city stands now but where it likes to go and how it proposes to go based on a vision drawn from the inherent strengths of a city and backed by a credible action plan,” he said. At present, the government will take the following next steps to carry forward the Smart Cities programme: Firstly, based on their evaluation, a panel of experts will suggest improvements in the proposals received from the top 20 cities. Required handholding will be given to the cities by mentor institutions/external agencies. Secondly, all smart city proposals will have a strict timeline of actions. The cities will have to adhere to this timeline and the progress on the work that they undertake will be monitored by the government. Naidu repeated the adherence required from the cities on the ‘smart’ list in the New Delhi meeting. He told the top 20 cities to get their Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) off the ground and get going on the projects they plan to undertake.