No J&K city in list of Modi’s Smart Cities project



Srinagar: No Jammu and Kashmir city figures in the list of 98 cities selected for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship, Rs 48,000-crore Smart Cities project.
Government of India’s urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who released the list, said the Jammu and Kashmir government has “sought more time to firm up their choice”.
A total of 100 cities will be covered by the project. While J&K is yet to submit the name of its city, Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest share of 13 cities, has to choose between Meerut and Rae Bareli which have got equal points.
The J&K has been given only one slot, but given the perennial tug of war between Jammu and Srinagar, the government has been unable to decide and requested the government of India to include both in the project.
While it looks unlikely that the wish would be granted, the state government is faced with a tough choice because the electoral prospects of the ruling parties, PDP and BJP, are linked with the decision.
In the backdrop of the row over AIIMS, and Jammu getting IIT and IIM, choosing one or the other city becomes a tough call.
The main conditions required to get the central assistance of Rs100 crore per annum under the project are that the city should have a population of at 10 lakh, local government (municipalities) and rational taxation system (property tax) in place.
Smart cities should also have a Master Plan and provision of allowing foreign or Indian companies to acquire land for commercial purposes.
While Jammu has a Master Plan, Srinagar’s Master Plan is being formulated.