Bhubaneswar emerged on top among 20 cities, including Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Bhopal, that have been selected as part of the first batch of the Smart City initiative for which the NDMC area of Delhi has also made the grade.

Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu announced the first list of 20 cities on Thursday that will be developed to have basic infrastructure.

Assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management systems, efficient urban mobility and public transportation, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation are some of the highlights of the initiative.

Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur, Visakhapatnam, Solapur, Davanagere, Indore, Coimbatore, Kakinada, Belagavi, Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana and Bhopal are the other cities selected in the first batch.

"Nobody can stop an idea whose time has come and this applies to the Smart City (initiative as well)," Naidu said while announcing the list of cities that were selected through the 'Smart City Challenge Competition'.

Congratulating the winners of the competition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "I wish the cities the very best as they move forward with implementation and transform urban India." 

The contest was as rigorous and demanding as the civil services competition, Naidu quipped.

"For the first time in the country and perhaps in the world, investments in urban development are being made based on a competition among cities. The results of the competition revealed the unrecognised strength of our federal structure," he said.

The cities in the first list have made it to the top of the competition based on implementation framework, including feasibility and cost-effectiveness, which had a weightage of 30 per cent, followed by result orientation (20 pc), citizen participation (16 pc), smartness of proposal (10 pc), strategic plan (10 pc), vision and goals (5 pc), evidence- based city profiling and key performance indicators (5 pc) and processes followed (4 pc).

Naidu said that the various states selected the cities and sent a list of 97 names, out of which 20 have been selected.

A bottom-up rather than top-down approach has been the key planning principle under Smart City Mission, he said.

Funding requirement

With the government naming 20 cities to be developed as 'Smart Cities', industry experts today said the project will require huge fund mobilization that could be brought about by public-private partnerships.

"The 20 shortlisted cities comprise a mix of cities from all regions of India with high economic and industrial potential.

"Developing the project in the shortlisted cities would ensure quality infrastructure, technology-enabled services, sustainable public transport," said Sanjay Dutt, Managing Director, India, Cushman & Wakefield.

Arindam Guha, Senior Director, Deloitte in India said: "There are no winners or losers here." 

"The really smart cities will build on the effort already put into developing the Smart City plans and take some of the implementation forward, especially those which do not require significant financial outlays like increasing walkability by improving pavements or are largely supported by private investment like wi-fi facilities in public spaces, beautification of public places through corporate sponsorships or advertisements," he said.

Schneider Electric Infrastructure VP and MD Prakash Chandraker said herculean effort has gone into the elaborate evaluation process for selecting these 20 cities out of the shortlist of 98 that was drawn up last year.

The 20 cities have been selected from a list of 97 that states had sent to the central government

"The sheer size and scale of the initiative is unprecedented and unparalleled anywhere in the world," he said terming the day as watershed for the country.

Chandan Chowdhury, Managing Director, Dassault Systemes, said building smart cities will require considerable system integration, simplification and standardisation of geo data which will be key enablers of building projects across India.

Jaijit Bhattacharya, Partner, Infrastructure and Government Services, KPMG in India said the shortlisting was a culmination of intense efforts from the government and multiple stakeholders.

"We are confident that today's announcement will further accelerate the transformation of cities into smart cities and will witness very significant investments coming in," he said.

Dutt said the Smart Cities project aims to provide world-class infrastructure in Indian cities.

"The government's shortlisting of 20 cities after careful scrutiny of various parameters such as feasibility of plan, effectiveness and result-orientation, etc over a period of time would result in higher quality of life for citizens," he said.

Affordable housing, which is already a priority for the government, would receive a further boost through the project.

If robust IT frameworks, connectivity and digitization are enabled in smart cities, there would be a marked improvement in the quality of infrastructure.

"The Smart Cities Project would require huge fund mobilization that could be brought about by public-private partnerships for developing smart cities," he said.

Incentivizing infrastructure development would lead to higher private participation in the formation of smart cities, he said, adding that the shortlisted cities would require to fine-tune and detail their proposals to establish their efficacy and begin implementation.

"The announcement of 20 smart cities marks the onset of a smart city revolution in India... Not only will these cities have enhanced basic infrastructure, but they will also offer opportunities in efficient urban mobility, waste management, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation," Chandraker said.

Technology innovation will be a key enabler to smart city projects, 3D mapping applications, modern architecture, urban planners, power generators will all help leverage technology to deliver 'more' using 'less' and create a sustainable city that improves the life of citizens, Chowdhury said.

Real estate opportunity

Realtors' body CREDAI hailed the selection of first 20 cities for 'Smart City' programme, saying the initiative would provide great opportunity for the real estate development, particularly in the affordable home segment, with improvement in infrastructure of these towns.

The cities were selected on parameters such as implementation framework, cost-effectiveness and citizen participation

"Its a good initiative by the government. Satellite towns around these smart cities will be good opportunity for the real estate development especially affordable housing," CREDAI President Getamber Anand said.

Welcoming this step, CBRE South Asia Chairman & MD Anshuman Magazine said: "While this initiative will involve large-scale retrofitting as well as redevelopment; these cities could become showcases of urban infrastructure development, encouraging others to follow suit." 

Cushman & Wakefield MD Sanjay Dutt said the Smart City initiative would further boost the affordable housing, which is already a priority for the government.

The Smart City initiative would be a game changer in raising the standard of infrastructure in the cities in the country, said Shubhranshu Pani, MD - Infrastructure Services, JLL India.

"Adequate attention is paid to sustainability, infrastructure and improving the life of inhabitants," he said, adding that JLL has supported two of the cities which have been shortlisted in the first list -- namely Bhubaneshwar and Chennai.

CREDAI Western UP Vice President Amit Modi said the smart city would greatly enhance the much needed infrastructure requirement of these cities.

Pune's real estate sector will be impacted positively with an impetus to the infrastructure growth as well as the economic activity for Maharashtra, said Rohit Gera, MD of Pune-based Gera Developments.

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