Belagavi, Davangere make it to first list of smart cities'

If all goes well, in five years' time, there will be at least two cities in Karnataka that do not look like the disaster that Bengaluru is.

Bengaluru: If all goes well, in five years' time, there will be at least two cities in Karnataka that do not look like the disaster that Bengaluru is. Davangere and Belagavi have been selected among 20 cities nation-wide to become 'Smart Cities' under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream project in the first round.

These 20 cities were picked from a list of 97 submitted by states during a competition last year. The states’ choices were judged on the basis of service levels, infrastructure and track record.

The Union government introduced competition to pick the best cities. Though some states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh had nominated more than two cities, the Union government picked only those that passed the competition.

Official sources said Davangere and Belagavi would get Rs 200 crores each in first year and Rs 100 crores each in subsequent years. The state government has to contribute its share of 50 per cent. While Davangere plans to raise Rs 976 crores through a PPP model, Belagavi is expected to mobilize Rs 1,006 crore with the help of the same model.

Odisha capital Bhubaneshwar surprised by topping the selection process -- a process that in Union Urban Development minister Venkaiah Naidu's words was "as rigorous and demanding as the civil services examination".

Other cities are Pune, Solapur, Jaipur, Surat, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur, the New Delhi Municipal Council, Kochi, Vishakapatnam, Kakinada, Udaipur, Guwahati, Ludhiana and Coimbatore. Chennai is the lone Metro exception.

The 'Smart Cities' project includes retrofitting and re-developing existing built-up areas and infrastructure in the selected cities as well as extending them with new area development. In the process, they will be imbued with pan-city smart-metering solutions for power and water, intelligent transport and traffic management, and municipal e-governance systems.

Given the decidedly non-Metro bias in the cities selected, India’s big, bad Metros are in danger of looking ‘retro’ when PM Modi is finished with his avowed ‘re-making of India’.

Celebrations in Belagavi

The announcement of Belagavi as one 'smart city' by the Union government set off celebrations across this border city on Thursday. Soon after the list was announced, celebrations began across the city as Corporators' came out of the corporation council meeting and burst crackers while congratulating each other.

Leaders of all parties have welcomed the Union decision to select Belagavi as it is one of the fastest growing cities in Karnataka. A string of major infrastructure projects put on the backburner by the government for two decades in the city would see the light of day once work under the 'Smart City' project takes off.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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