Varanasi included in new list of 27 smart cities

NEW DELHI: Five cities in election-bound Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency of Varanasi, have made it to the Centre’s third list of Smart Cities that will get funding for initiating urban reforms.

Agra, Kanpur and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Amritsar and Jalandhar in Punjab are among the 27 cities selected under the Smart Cities Mission, which will get Rs. 200 crore for improving their infrastructure. With the 27 cities announced on Tuesday , the total number of Smart Cities chosen rises to 60. Maharashtra topped the list with five cities, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were second with four cities each, followed by Uttar Pradesh with three cities.

The new cities are from 12 states and have proposed to invest a total of Rs. 66,883 crore under their respective ‘Smart City’ plans. The amount includes Rs. 42,524 crores in area-based development Rs. 11,379 crores (79% of the total) and Rs.31,145  crores (21%) in technology-based pan-city solutions.

The third list was announced after the latest round of the Smart City Challenge competition. Amritsar topped the list, while Vadodara in Gujarat finished in last place. “Competition-based selection has made the cities rediscover themselves as they are undertaking a thorough assessment of gaps in the present levels of infrastructure and service delivery and come out with comprehensive, credible and actionable plans for area-based development and technology-based pan-city solutions,” urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu said.

Under the Smart Cities Mission, the government proposes to develop 100 cities as Smart Cities over the next three years. Naidu said the process for selection of the remaining 40 cities would start in January. “With the third batch of cities, the Smart City implementation is now spread to 27 states and Union Territories…nine states and UTs still to join this club are Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Daman, Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli,” Naidu said.

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