PM Narendra Modi launches Smart Cities Mission, says Centre committed to urban India

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday unveiled three flagship government schemes that aim to spruce up urban India at an expenditure of close to Rs 4 lakh crore.

“If we had recognised urbanisation as an opportunity 25 years ago, we could have been at par with the developed world today. But better late than never,” Modi said launching the Smart Cities Mission, Housing for All by 2022 and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) schemes in the presence of mayors and heads of urban local bodies from around 500 Indian cities here. Pointing out that 40% of India’s population stays in cities, Modi said, “How can they get better quality of life at a time when everyone is looking at India. We cannot leave our poor to their fate. It is our responsibility.”

He said a smart city will be one which is two steps ahead of the needs of people. “We have to develop models such as walk to work, energy saving and others to improve our cities,” he said.

Under ‘Housing for All by 2022’, the government plans to build 20 million homes for the urban poor by the time Indian completes its 75 years of independence in 2022. Modi said the plans were firmed up after feedback from all stakeholders including real estate developers, international exports and financial institutions.

He said while private developers know in which direction a city will grow and accordingly build homes, what is usually missing is the infrastructure that is key for living.

“Unless the city leadership does not know how the city will grow, it will not work. Through AMRUT, we will plan,” Modi said, adding development cannot be such that it becomes a tussle between cities and villages.

Modi also said the image of the builder lobby is very poor in this country. “This government is worried about the protection of consumers. There is a Bill in parliament already,” referring to the real estate regulatory Bill.

“Otherwise, in our country, wittingly or unwittingly, the image of the builder lobby is very low. A poor man puts all his savings into a house, which is the biggest event of his life and when he gets cheated, everything is lost,” Modi said, adding that the Bill will be pushed in the coming monsoon session of parliament. On smart cities, Modi said decisions will be taken by city’s leadership, its people and the urban local bodies.

“It will be a ground up approach.” Smart cities will be selected through competition and each city will get central funding of Rs 100 crore a year for five years.

Source: Economic Times
Dated: 26th June 2015

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