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Naidu turns down Bengal’s request for more Smart Cities

Kolkata: Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday turned down West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim’s request for increasing the number of Smart Cities in the state.

Off the 98 proposed Smart Cities, West Bengal has been allotted four – New Town and Bidhannagar on the city outskirts, Durgapur in Burdwan district and the port city of Haldia in East Midnapore district.

“May I request the Indian government to consider Kolkata for inclusion in the list of smart cities because it is our capital and has high potential. I would also request the minister (Naidu) to increase the number of Smart Cities in the state and to consider all municipal towns under AMRUT,” Hakim publicly appealed to Naidu during a workshop on Smart Cities here.

Hakim said the extension of AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) will help the state government in curbing migration of rural people to the cities for better earning opportunities.

“Jitna aata hai, utni roti hi milegi (You can only get as much bread as you have flour),” Naidu replied.

The minister said the selection and development of the Smart Cities will be based on the creditworthiness of the city, the development it has undergone, the vision which has been projected by the relevant authorities among others.

“After pre-qualification, one has to prove its capacity to build a smart city – what are the plans, ideas, creditworthiness, finances, vision,” he said.

Later talking to mediapersons, Naidu said the centre’s support was subject to performance.

“If you don’t perform, you will not get support. I give money, the centre gives money, if you don’t perform, that is not done,” he said.

Naidu said the “race for the first 20 Smart Cities” has begun and each of the proposed centres need to come up with their projected worthiness and assessment of developmental projects to get shortlisted in this year’s agenda of developing these cities.

The centre will be taking up 20 shortlisted cities for smart transformation this year, another 40 next year and the rest in 2017.

The union minister said India first needs to create and generate wealth and thereafter venture into other projects.