Both Shimla and Dharamshala to be developed as Smart cities- Sudhir Sharma

SHIMLA- Urban Development Minister Sudhir Sharma today said that the state government was committed to all round development of urban areas of the state through smart interventions.

He also said that both Dharamshala and Shimla would get opportunity to be developed as smart cities. This announcement came amidst speculations that Shimla was removed from the list of cities to be developed as smart cities. According to a report published in Amar Ujala and other English dalies like Times of India, Dharmashala was the new candidate. The news had revoked anger among Shimla residents.

Further, Sudhir Sharma said that in order to fulfill its objective to make urban areas smart, the state government was utilizing the flagship programmes launched recently by the Government of India. The Centre had recently launched Smart Cities Mission and AMRUT programmes to develop urban areas by providing basic infrastructure like water supply, sewerage and seepage management, storm water drainage, urban transport etc.

He said that Government of India has introduced competition criteria to select the cities for the smart city mission and state in turn provided opportunity to all cities in the state to compete. In the competition so carried out in the state, the city of Dharamshala scored highest and thus has been selected for inclusion in the smart City Mission. Under this scheme, Dharamshala would be eligible for the funding of Rs.500 crores during the project period of five years with equal matching share from the Government of Himachal Pradesh.

Sudhir Sharma said under the AMRUT scheme, Government of India has fixed the population criteria and all cities with population of one lakh and above would be eligible to be included under the AMRUT scheme. Thus Shimla being the only city with population of more than one lakh, automatically gets included in AMRUT scheme, giving both Dharamshala and Shimla opportunity to be developed as smart cities.

He said the Urban Development Department has already embarked upon introducing the smart solutions in the cities; such as smart lighting, free WiFi services, smart service delivery via e-district project, smart municipal solid waste management system etc. and there was an opportunity to develop the towns into smart towns.

The Minister said the existing schemes of AMRUT and Smart City Mission have certain disadvantages for the hill states and these issues are being taken up with the Government of India. Firstly, the state government was going to request the Centre to restore previous funding pattern for hill state where by state contribution was 10% and 90 % contribution under JNNURM. Secondly since the towns in the Hill states are small in size due to its geographical setting, the state may be allowed to make clusters to be eligible for availing the benefit under AMRUT.

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