NEW DELHI: The government today announced the names of 98 towns and cities chosen for its Smart Cities project after a nationwide "competition" between states.
The winners include Lucknow and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Baroda in Gujarat, Greater Mumbai, Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai in Tamil Nadu, and Bhagalpur and Muzaffarpur in Bihar.
Of those chosen for the project, 24 are capital cities, 24 are business hubs and 18 are cultural centres. Cities like Patna, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram and Shimla have failed to make the cut in round one.
Uttar Pradesh gets the maximum number of cities with Kanpur, Allahabad, Rampur, Agra and Aligarh also being selected. Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Thane also make the cut from Maharashtra.
North-eastern towns and cities like Guwahati, Kohima, Imphal, Aizawl, Shillong, and Agartala have also been chosen.
Each state will get at least one Smart City, which, in PM Modi's words, translates to "very high quality of life comparable with any developed European city".
To earn a Smart City tag, the city has to check all the boxes that include service levels, existing infrastructure and track record. Proposals from states were also judged on how realistic is its execution.
The top 20 cities will be financed this year.
The rest of the cities will be asked to get their act together, focus on deficiencies and prepare for Round 2 of the competition.
During the selection process, each state was assigned a specific number of Smart City slots based on urban population among other factors.
Uttar Pradesh, the most populous and politically vital state, will get the most number of Smart Cities - 13. The state government has also recommended Congress president Sonia Gandhi's constituency Rae Bareli.
Tamil Nadu will have 12 and Maharashtra will get 10 such cities. Madhya Pradesh will have seven Smart Cities and Gujarat and Karnataka will have six each.
Sources say Jammu and Kashmir wanted time to decide between Jammu and Srinagar as its nominee for the project.
In the next five years, Rs 3 lakh crore will be spent in developing the towns to provide world class infrastructure, sustainable environment and smart solutions.
The Smart City mission is viewed as the government's big push for urban renewal in almost 100 Indian cities and towns. While launching it in June this year, PM Modi had said "Urban planning should begin at the bottom."