The Centre will start identifying urban areas which can be transformed into “smart cities”, before the Union Budget, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu has said.
The government is currently holding consultations with all stakeholders including state governments, local bodies and those keen on developing smart cities.
“I have held consultation with my state counterparts and taken them into confidence. Now we are at the advance stage of finalising the contours of the smart cities and by November we expect the process to be completed…and expect to identify the cities before the Budget,” Naidu, who was in town today for the Ieema annual convention, told reporters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has envisaged developing 100 smart cities by 2022. The Finance Ministry has allocated Rs 7,060 crore for developing these cities as well, which will replace the present flagship urban renewal scheme JNNURM.
“I am planning to complete the process of consultation and finalisation of the contours by end of November and take them to the Expenditure Finance Committee and then to Cabinet. Then from the beginning of the year, roll out will begin,” he said.
“We plan to have at least 2-3 smart cities in each state,” he said.
Emphasising the need for taking all the stakeholders on board, he said, “You have to take the states and urban local bodies into confidence. Then you need support from different sectors and you need finances, which need a lot of consultations. We have finalised PPP model for developing smart cities.”
Naidu further said there is an increased interest from other countries to participate in this project. “I have held consultations with a lot of foreign delegations who are interested in participating in this project. Japan is keen to cooperate to transform Varanasi into a smart city. Similarly, a former Singaporean Prime Minister has also met me and expressed interest in constructing a new capital for Andhra, which I want to make into a smart city,” he said.
He said he will visit cities like Oklahoma and Seoul to understand their models.
However, he noted that creating a smart city is not an easy task. “It is not easy to construct a smart city overnight without light and basic amenities. We need to prepare habitat with a smart leadership. Further, there is a need to provide facilities for transport, water, disposal of waste, traffic security management, education, entertainment and employment opportunities, among others. All these things will take time,” he said.
“In this entire process, having 24×7 power supply will be critical. A city cannot be smart if there is no power. Therefore, there is a need to create proper transmission and distribution system to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity,” Naidu added.