Neither Prime minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi, nor do any of the three—Chandigarh, Puduchery or Nagpur—adopted by France features in the top 20. Also, no city from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or West Bengal is in the list.
Small towns made it big in the Urban Development Ministry’s Smart City challenge, with Bhubaneshwar topping the chart with a score of 73.83 per cent. Following a close second and third are Pune and Jaipur respectively.
The list of 20 cities, which submitted the best proposals for the Smart City challenge was announced by urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday.
But it is the omissions which were more talked about than the inclusions. Neither Prime minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi, nor do any of the three—Chandigarh, Puduchery or Nagpur—adopted by France features in the top 20. Also, no city from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or West Bengal is in the list.
Naidu said the selection was made by a transparent, error-proof system where political or vested considerations had no role.
“The city challenge required integrated plans and proposals. It was as tough as a UPSC exam,’’ he quipped.
Explaining the process, he said the plans were made at the local body levels, with public participation. The first stage of screening was at the state level, each state decided which city proposals to submit for the national challenge.
At the national level, 98 short listed city proposals were sent through a gruelling set of 43 questions to assess how robust they were, how relevant and how smart.
“There were three evaluation teams comprising Indian and foreign experts. The rankings were made on the average of the marks given to each city by these teams,’’ said Naidu.
Weightage was given based on many factors. Public participation in the plans carried a 16 per cent weightage, while the smartness of the proposal carried 10 per cent.
Naidu said 1.52 crore citizens participated in the proposal-making process at various levels across the country, which is roughly 12 per cent of the population of these cities. It is a fairly high representation, he noted.
Of the selected cities, 18 had retrofitting projects, one had a retrofitting and redevelopment project and one had an only redevelopment project. Bhubaneshwar scored high because its proposal envisaged retrofitting a 900-plus acre area around the railway station, with a central business district to be set up there.
It also suggested the regeneration of a water body stream, added Jagan Shah, director, National Institute of Urban Affairs and mission consultant.
Naidu said as many as 23 states and union territories found no representation in the top 20 list, so they were being given another chance to spruce up their proposals already submitted by April 15.
If the reassessed score of any city is higher than city number 20 Bhopal's 55.47 per cent, it will also be included in the first batch of cities getting the funding.
The top 20 will get Rs 200 crores from the centre in the first year, and a hundred crore for the next three years, with the state government having to put in the same amount.
The next batch of selected smart cities will be announced in 2017.
The top 20 cities
Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh)
New Delhi Municipal Council
Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu)
Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh)
Chennai (Tamil Nadu)
Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)