"We are close to launching the much awaited Smart Cities initiative on ground. Prolonged and extensive consultations on this new concept and initiative have finally concluded. We will have all the necessary approvals for this project by the end of this month and action on ground will begin next month onwards," Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said addressing a seminar on Smart Cities here on Monday.

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Naidu added the consultation process for the Smart Cities project took considerable time. Consultations with all stakeholders including the states, urban local bodies, real estate developers, technology solution providers, experts including urban planners and architects, related ministries of the central government took considerable time and rightly so.

There were about four rounds of consultations with states to convey to them our ideas and to take their suggestions and feedback, he explained.


"Since we intend to select cities for development as smart cities based on their proven capabilities and willingness to take forward the much desired urban reforms, we took them on board regarding the criteria to be followed for such selection through  a 'City Challenge' competition," he asserted.

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Advocating environment-friendly construction activities, Naidu assured, government need to seriously take a relook at the rules concerning construction and see if they can be re-written to enforce 'green construction practices'. He is aware that some incentives are offered here and there for green construction, he cited

He further said the time is running out and the government may consider to enforce it through mandatory rules.

"But we are running against time and perhaps need to enforce the same through some mandatory rules. I would like to have the benefit of considered views of architects in this regard."  He said government's vision for urban development is to ensure that urban spaces are equitably shared by all the sections instead of only the rich and affordable benefitting
from it.

Describing the project as the "biggest buzz word and the flavour of the season" in the country now, he added, government is collectively gearing up to meet the challenges of growing urbanisation with the goal of converting it into an opportunity.

NDA government had last year declared the mission of creating 100 Smart Cities across the nation based on better technology, superior management and modern governance.

However, Naidu explained the selection of the Smart City will be strictly on the basis of the criteria laid out by the government and no other consideration, including political ones, will be taken into account.

On how a smart city is different from a city in which smart things happen, the Minister informed a three-fold approach was taken.

He added, "Retrofitting and redevelopment of unsustainable urban areas that we have inherited and identified for development as smart cities, and development of new smart cities."

Government want smart cities to be developed to take advantage of and further evolve around their core economic activity, using it as an economic engine, like port cities, tourism cities, healthcare and educational cities, he said.

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