New Delhi: The first 20 cities to be developed as Smart Cities will be announced today.
Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu informed that 'there are 97 cities in the Smart City Challenge and the names of the first 20 winners of the competition will be announced on Thursday'.
These cities will be developed to have basic infrastructure through assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation.
In the subsequent years, the government will announce 40 cities each to be developed as Smart Cities as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plan to develop 100 Smart Cities in the country.
Speaking on challenges and the way ahead for urban development, Naidu said perpetuation of inequities in urban areas has serious implications for national security and hence, the government is committed to ensuring inclusive development under new initiatives like Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart City Mission, Swachh Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).
Naidu stressed on the need for inclusive urban development, noting that "it was the need of the hour with 'Young India' becoming more and more aspiration".
He expressed concern regarding the exploitation of urban spaces by the well-to-do sections of the society at the cost of the poor and the marginalised and stressed on inclusivity while taking decisions related to urban governance.