With its focus on improving urban areas, the government's three schemes for the purpose - 100 Smart Cities, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for 500 cities and towns, and Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) covering 12 — will cover most of the cities and towns across the country.
The financial assistance from the Centre to improve infrastructure and other facilities in these urban zones will cover almost 75% of India's urban population, sources in the urban development ministry said.
"Once the names of the smart cities are finalized, we will provide the necessary fund for them to start preparatory work in a phased manner. While funding is being released under the HRIDAY scheme, recently Rs 120 crore was released to states and Union Territories for preparation of service-level improvement plans (SLIP) for each of the 482 cities identified under AMRUT," a ministry spokesperson said.
In the first release of funds under this mission, each city has got an advance assistance of Rs 25 lakh for preparation of SLIP.
Under AMRUT, the primary purpose is to equip all urban households with water supply and sewerage, before taking up other projects related to storm water drains, urban transport and provision of public and green spaces.
"The three schemes are complementary to each other and aim at improving quality of life in urban areas, which are the engines of economic growth. SLIP for each selected city or town should identify the gaps in provision of water supply and sewerage connections and draw up detailed plans for bridging the gaps," said a ministry official.
The government has so far identified 482 cities and towns each with a population of above one lakh under AMRUT. These include 60 from Uttar Pradesh, 59 from West Bengal, 43 from Maharashtra, 32 each from Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, 31 each from Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, 28 from Rajasthan, 27 from Karnataka and 26 from Bihar. The remaining 18 cities will be chosen from the cities and towns on the stems of main rivers, from hill states and tourist destinations.