Thursday, 25 June 2015

PM Narendra Modi to launch three ambitious schemes to develop cities and towns

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set tomorrow to launch three mega flagship schemes aimed at transforming urban India, including the much talked about Smart Cities proposal, with a whopping Rs 4 lakh crore kitty having been lined up for the projects.

Modi will release implementation guidelines for three projects - 100 Smart Cities, the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for 500 cities and Housing-For-All by 2022 in urban areas.

He will also unveil the logo of the housing mission, which has his personal touch in the finalisation of its design.

The operational guidelines for each of the three projects - which lay the ground rules and framework for implementation - were formulated after extensive, almost year-long consultations with states, Union Territories and urban local bodies.

The Prime Minister has been involved in the formulation of the three mega urban initiatives involving a central grant of about Rs 4 lakh crore.

He was given regular presentations by the Urban Development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation ministries and would issue instructions for making them more workable, said sources in the UD Ministry.

While the Smart City and AMRUT projects will draw Rs 48,000 crore and and Rs 50,000 crore, respectively, in central grants over five years, Housing-for-All by 2022 will see the government spend about Rs 3 lakh crore in the next seven years as it aims to construct 2 crore affordable houses in urban areas for slum dwellers and people from economically-weaker sections and low income groups.

Under the housing scheme, interest subsidy of 6.5 per cent on housing loans with tenure up to 15 years will be provided to EWS and low income groups, giving them a benefit of about Rs 2.3 lakh each.

Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the three projects will herald a new urban era. "The journey for team India begins tomorrow," he said.

States and local bodies will play a key role in the execution of these schemes, the minister said, adding that there will also be a lot of scope for private participation.

"Effective management of growing urbanisation is a major challenge towards the making of resurgent India. Resource management is a major challenge and our government sees an opportunity in this," he told reporters here.

The Smart City project seeks to enhance quality of life in 100 selected cities with 24 hour water and power supply, world class transportation system, better education and recreational facilities, e-governance and environment-friendly atmosphere, among others. The Smart City project will be based on PPP model, Naidu said.

AMRUT seeks to ensure basic infrastructure for 500 cities with a population of above one lakh. Ensuring water supply to each household, sewer connections, sanitation and solid waste management, provision for roads and public transportation beside implementation of reforms in urban governance would be the focus under the scheme.

Naidu said that AMRUT cities are tomorrow's Smart Cities. He also said that the simultaneous launch of three missions reflects the government's integrated approach towards urban transformation.

While urban population is set to rise by more than 400 million people to touch 814 million by 2050, India faces a mass urbanisation challenge even as many of its biggest cities are already bursting at the seams.

The government, through these schemes, is looking to bring about a transformation of urban India with the critical goal of making the country an economic hub.

The unveiling of the criteria and guidelines for the three schemes by Modi tomorrow will be followed by a two-day workshop in which over 1,000 mayors, municipal heads, state ministers and chief secretaries will take part.

Representatives of embassies, which have shown an interest about their countries' participation in these projects, will also take part in the workshop, Naidu said.

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