Bhubaneswar tops first Smart City list of 20

Bhubaneswar: Temple city Bhubaneswar has topped the list of twenty cities declared by the Centre under its ‘Smart Cities Mission’ project on Thursday.

The cities chosen are Bhubaneswar, Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur, Visakhapatnam, Solapur, Davangere, Indore, New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) area, Coimbatore, Kakinada, Belgaum, Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana and Bhopal.

Reacting on the development, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said, “I am delighted that Bhubaneswar has topped the list of Smart Cities prepared by the Government of India. We shall make all our efforts to see this is fulfilled and I also congratulate the Bhubaneswar team that is working so hard for this.”

Bhubanewar Municipal Corporation (BMC) mayor Anant Narayan Jena said, “It is a matter of pride that Bhubaneswar has grabbed the top spot in the list. The credit goes to all the officials and functionaries of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation. We have successfully implemented the projects we had taken up to help figure the city in the list of smart city list.”

The vision for smart cities includes quality communications systems including Wi-Fi and infrastructure facilities like drinking water on tap, automated waste collection and uninterrupted power supply, all luxuries for most cities.

These 20 cities will be the first to receive funds, thus kickstarting the process of developing them into ‘smart cities’. The next two years will see the inclusion of 40 and 38 cities, respectively. The Centre will provide Rs. 200 crore in the first year to each of the 20 chosen cities and Rs.100 crore every subsequent year.

Announcing the names of the cities, Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said, “We introduced competition to pick the best candidates. The competition was as rigorous as the civil services exam.”

Naidu clarified that none of the cities are from the big states Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. On the other hand, some states have two or more – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

The government has denied any role in the selection. “Nothing was decided in Delhi, nothing was dictated in Delhi,” the minister asserted.

To qualify, states and local administrations had to provide “smart answers” to a template with 43 questions. Factors like people’s participation also carried weight.

In December last year, 97 selected cities had submitted their plans to the ministry and were given Rs.2 crore each to prepare plans along with technical agencies and other organizations.