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Rs two lakh crore investment likely in next five years for Smart cities and AMRUT plans

Rs two lakh crore investment likely in next five years for Smart cities and AMRUT plans

Rs two lakh crore investment likely to rain on urban areas in next five years for Smart cities and AMRUT plans

By Neeraj Bajpai

“India’s cities are among the greatest things we have”, Charles Correa , world-famous architect had said.He would have been more convinced about his perception after emergence of smart cities on India’s large canvas in near future. Alas! He is no more. Marathon exercises are underway to accomplish the much touted project ,being billed as a watershed initiative to give fillip to the growth agenda.

With an investment entailing Rs 48,000 crore from the Centre, 100 smart cities will be developed in next five years. Carrying forward his agenda of accelerated growth aimed at recasting the country’s urban swathes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet has approved spending of about one lakh crore on urban development under two new urban missions in next five years. The twin projects, which are being unfurled June 25 this year, are the smart city mission and the Atal Mission for rejuvenation and urban transformation ( AMRUT ) of 500 cities with outlays of Rs. 48,000 crore and Rs.50,000 crore respectively.Times Square ball drop live

The smart cities mission seeks to ensure basic infrastructure services to enable a decent quality of life in urban pockets and a clean and sustainable environment and adoption of smart solutions. Officials claim smart cities mission seeks to fetch the benefits of urban development to the poor through promotion of public transportation and enhanced access to public spaces. The improved urban environment under the mission will give fillip to economic activity which in turn benefits the poor through increased employment and livelihood opportunities.

Urban population,according to 2011census, was about Rs 37 crore accounting for 31 per cent of total population . As per latest estimates,about 5.80 crore urban population are poor.Taking lessons from the implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission that was launched in 2005 and implemented till March 2014, when it was wound up by the previous government ,new initiatives have been formulated, sources say. US trade development agency (USTDA) signed MOU with the governments of Rajasthan and AP for assisting in making Allahabad, Ajmer and Visakhapatnam into smart cities.

Fourteen countries have expressed interest in building smart cities. These include : US, Japan, China,Singapore , Germany, France , Netherlands, Sweden , Israel,Turkey and Australia. The improved urban environment under the mission will give fillip to economic activity which in turn benefits the poor through increased employment and livelihood opportunities

Under the smart city mission ,each selected city would get central assistance of Rs.100 crore per annum for five years and each state will shortlist a certain number of smart city aspirants as per the norms. Smart city aspirants, say official sources, will be picked up through a transparent “city challenge competition intended to link financing with the potential of cities to perform to fully accomplish the well laid out objectives of the ambitious mission.”

States plan will be further evaluated for pumping of money from the Centre’s coffers.Sources made it clear that the smart city mission intends to promote adoption of smart solutions for efficient use of available assets, resources and infrastructure for improving quality of life. Thrust will be laid for participation of locals in prioritising and planning urban interventions. It will be implemented through areas based approach consisting of retrofitting, re-development, pan city initiatives and development of new cities.

A UNI correspondent, who visited a few areas in the Hindi heartland states recently, found that locals were calculating potential locations of smart cities and have started their own reckoning of hike in land prices in and around those areas.”It is not only money raking calculations, we are keen to have better urban life ,and future generations will not forgive us if the present rot of haphazard development was not arrested in a stipulated period.” At some places,bets are on the potential sites of smart cities and locals were enthused. Informatively, a statutory town is one that has a municipal body. There are 4,041 statutory cities/ town as per 2011 records. Out of these, about 500 cites are with a population of above one lakh each are focus of AMRUT. These 500 cities account for 73 per cent of India’s population.

According to highly informed sources, number of cities that can be nominated for Smart city & AMRUT respectively so far are like this : A&N ( 1&1) ,Andhra Pradesh ( 3 &31),Arunachal Pradesh (1 &1), Assam( 1&7), Delhi( 1&1) ,Karnataka( 6 &27), Kerala( 1&18) , Uttar Pradesh ( 13 &54),WB ( 4&28) Maharashtra ( 10&37) etc. Official sources said under retrofitting, deficiencies in the identified area will be addressed through necessary interventions as in the case of local area plan for downtown Ahmedabad. Redevelopment enables reconstruction of already built up area that is not amenable to make it smart as in the case of Bhindi Bazar of Mumbai and West Kidwai Nagar in Delhi .

Pan city components could be interventions like intelligent transport solutions that benefit all residents by reducing commuting time. The smart city initiative planners have agenda for core infrastructure services like adequate and clean water supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport ,affordable housing for the poor, power supply, robust IT connectivity, governance, especially e-governance, security and safety of inhabitants ,well developed health, education services besides sustainable urban development.

Official sources said Smart City action plans will be implemented through special purpose vehicles which will be created for each city and state governments will ensure steady stream of resources for SPVs.

Both Smart city mission and AMRUT are linked with an umbilical chord. AMRUT, entailing an investment

of Rs 50,000 crore, envisages proper infrastructure services relating to water supply,sewerage,septage management, storm water drains, transport and development of green spaces and parks with special plans of meeting needs of children.

The Mission inter alia aims at achieving urban reforms such as e-governance, building of professional municipal cadre,devolving funds and functions to urban local bodies, review of building bye laws, improvement in assessment and collection of municipal taxes, credit rating of urban local bodies,energy and water audit and citizen centric urban planning.

Sources said in order to push reforms, the government has also planned 10 per cent budget allocation will be given to states/ UTs as incentive based on achievement of reforms during the previous year. A reform matrix with timelines will be circulated to states in the guidelines.

The AMRUT Mission will be implemented in 500 cities and towns each with a population of one lakh and above. It will also be carried out in some cities situated on stems of main rivers, a few capital cities and important cities located in hilly areas, islands and tourist areas.

Unlike JNNURM, central government will appraise individual projects but states, sources said, get flexibility of designing schemes based on needs of identified cities and in their execution and monitoring. States will only submit state annual action plans to the Centre for broad concurrence based on which funds will be released .

Central assistance will be to the extent of 50 per cent of project cost for cities and towns with a population of ten lakh and one third of the project cost for those with a population of above ten lakhs.The funds will be released in three instalments in the ratio of 20:40: 20 based on achievement of milestones indicated in state annual action plans .

Sources said the government has already approved central funding under AMRUT to the projects sanctioned under JNNURM and not completed. JNNURM projects relating to the urban development sanctioned during 2005-2012 and achieved physical progress of fifty per cent availing 50 per cent central assistance released and those sanctioned during 2012-2014 will be supported till March 2017. Accordingly ,102 and 296 projects will get central support for balance funding to complete these projects.

Official sources say a minimum investment of over Rs two lakh crore would flow into urban areas over the next five years since states and urban local bodies would mobilise matching resources ranging 50 to 60 six per cent . In addition, substantial private investment would be mobilised by states and urban local bodies through PPP model as required to meet project costs.

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