New Delhi: With the Centre releasing the list of 98 cities selected for the Rs 48,000-crore Smart City project, experts on Thursday highlighted the need to transform the governance structure at the city level for a sustainable transformation and offer services essential for urban living.
"Selection of smart cities is a first step. Major challenge is to provide quality urban services such as 24X7 water supply, sanitation, drainage, solid waste management and sewage treatment.
"Looking at finances of urban local bodies, which are far from healthy, provision of these services will be challenging. Levying of user charges to recover cost of provision of these services will be crucial to maintaining quality of these services," said Devendra Kumar Pant, Chief Economist at India Ratings & Research.
The Centre on Thursday released the names of cities selected for the mega project pending a nomination each from Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
While Jammu and Kashmir has to nominate one city, UP has got slots for 13 cities to be proposed as Smart City based on the urban population and number of notified cities.
"The announcement is a positive step forward. The next step would be to identify the first set of 20 cities that will get Rs 500 crore of budgetary support.
"This money is only seed funding to jumpstart the process of transformation of Indian cities. It would be critical to also transform the governance structure at the city level to enable a sustainable city transformation," said Jaijit Bhattacharya, Partner, Infrastructure and Government Services, KPMG India.
Moradabad, Solapur, Amritsar, Rourkela, Durgapur and Ajmer are among the 98 cities to be developed as Smart Cities for the Modi government's flagship project.
"We welcome the Centre's decision to set up special purpose vehicles (SPVs) for each Smart City and are confident that these will help define the contours of the upcoming Smart Cities.
"We are quite upbeat that the Rs 3 lakh crore allocated by the government for this mission will induce active participation from all stakeholders," said Anil Chaudhry Schneider, MD & Country President, Electric India.
UP is followed by 12 cities by Tamil Nadu and 10 by Maharashtra to be developed as Smart Cities. Madhya Pradesh has seven cities in the project.
Karnataka and Gujarat have six cities each while Bihar and Andhra has three each and the rest of the states have two and one cities, respectively, in the project.