New Delhi, Jan 30: Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu has plainly asked the states if they were ready to convert their cities and towns smart under the centre’s ambitious scheme of building 100 smart cities across the country.
The Minister was delivering inaugural address here on Friday at the ‘Consultation Workshop with States and Stakeholders’ organized by his ministry to take states on board before launching smart cities initiative.
The Minister sought to motivate the state governments and urban local bodies to rise to the occasion by reorienting their mindsets and approaches towards urban management and make the smart cities initiative a success in the larger interest of the country and its people.
He asserted that building smart cities is definitely a challenge but it can be accepted and accomplished. “The four ‘S’ viz. Smart leadership, Smart Governance, Smart Technologies and Smart People make a city smart”, the Minster said. The resources for this can be managed through the successful Public-Private-People Partnership, he added.
Elaborating the concept of four S, Naidu said, Smart Leadership should be guided by a vision and mission, have courage to take quick and bold decisions, adopt best practices and attract investments.
Smart governance is needed to ensure transparency and accountability through adoption of technology platforms to reduce human to human interface and ensure online delivery of services and real time information besides promoting participation of citizens in decision making and execution.
Smart technologies will enable efficient energy, traffic, solid waste and waste to wealth management, real time information and service delivery etc. People should be smart enough to partner in the city development by willing to pay for the value addition to the services, able to question the authorities and enforce accountability.
The Minister said that smart cities shall be liveable, workable, inclusive and sustainable.Venkaiah Naidu also made it clear that states and urban local bodies have to play the key role in building smart cities while the central government could do the handholding as an enabler besides providing some financial assistance.
The states and urban local bodies have come out with required policy and procedural innovations for attracting investments.The Minister informed the states that with a view to select the most willing and able cities and towns for making them smart, a ‘City Challenge’ competition would be held to assess the proven ability of cities in terms of reforms and innovation and the potential.
Naidu releases special stamp: Union Urban Minister Venkaiah Naidu complimented the Department of Posts for issuing a Commemorative Stamp on ‘Swachh Bharat’ on the occasion of the 67th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi which is being observed as Martyrs’ Day.
He said that while the Mahatma effectively used ‘Satyagraha’ during the freedom struggle, the country and its people need to resort to ‘Swachhagraha’ to make the country clean by October 2, 2019 as a befitting tribute to him on the occasion of Mahatma’s 150th birth anniversary.
Naidu observed that total sanitation is the need of the hour given its adverse impacts on people’s health and economy. He noted that inadequate sanitation is costing about US $ 54 billion i.e 6.40% of GDP each year besides resulting in 18 lakh deaths each year due to diarrheal diseases.
About 80% of the diseases are water-borne and water related following water pollution, contamination and logging. He informed that about 19% of urban households do not have toilets within their premises and about 13% are defecating in the open.
Stating that massive awareness campaign is required to change the mindsets of people to adopt clean sanitation practices, Naidu noted that the ‘Swachh Bharat’ stamp released today would help in this regard.
He said, awareness generation and infrastructure development should be followed by stricter penalties to ensure total sanitation.
Shankar Aggarwal, Secretary(UD) elaborated on the broad contours of four new initiatives in urban sector viz., Swachh Bharat Mission, Smart Cities, Infrastructure Development in 500 cities and Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana(HRIDAY).
Senior officials of the Ministry of Urban Development, Principal Secretaries and Secretaries of all states, Municipal Commissioners and experts are attending the two day Consultations that will conclude tomorrow.