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Every State to get one Smart City, says M.Venkaiah Naidu

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Every State in the country will get to develop at least one city as Smart City under the central government’s initiative of developing 100 smart cities, Minister of Urban Development, M.Venkaiah Naidu informed Rajya Sabha today.

“The Union Cabinet accorded approval for the Smart Cities Mission last week and guidelines for its implementation including the criteria for selection of cities are being finalised,” Naidu said. The Minister clarified that the process of selection of cities for developing them as smart cities will be initiated after the guidelines are issued to the States.

The Minister informed the House that Smart City aspirants will be selected based on a ‘City Challenge Competition.’ He said that the cities will be graded based on their revenues, expenditure, availability of infrastructure relating to transport, drinking water, solid waste management etc. Naidu emphasized the need for smart leadership and smart people to achieve the objectives of the Smart Cities Mission by undertaking the much needed urban reforms.

Elaborating on the benefits of India-US Cooperation in making Visakhapatnam, Allahabad and Ajmer as Smart Cities, Naidu said that that the US will extend technical support for preparing master plans for these three cities besides assisting in capacity building and undertaking feasibility studies etc. He clarified that there will be no financial support from the US. The United States Trade Development Agency (USTDA) has signed MoU with the States of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan in this regard.

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Malaysia Provides Access to Toilets and Safe Sanitation Everywhere in the Country: Study

Malaysia's Rise, From Buckets and Hanging Toilets, to Universal Sanitation

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Malaysia has developed a lot in terms of its infrastructure and sanitation. Pixabay

What can Malaysia teach Southeast Asia about water resources? A new study shows that Malaysia has been able to spread access to toilets and safe  sanitation to nearly 100% of the partial island nation. After some trial and error, its experience offers some lessons for others around the world, particularly at a time when places from California to South Africa are increasingly worried about how well they will be able to manage their water resources in the long run.

Water access improves

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The ocean is seen in Penang, Malaysia, a nation that improved sanitation faster than most. VOA

In recent decades Malaysia has increased citizens’ access to water thanks to a mix of top-down determination from the government, partial privatization, and clearly defined roles and rules for all stakeholders, author Dorai Narayana writes in a new book chapter. As a British colony until 1957, Malaysia used to see most urban inhabitants commonly use buckets or open defecation, which contributed to waterborne diseases. However after independence local authorities
started to pay more attention to sanitation, introducing septic tanks and piped water supplies.

National Government Leadership

Then the national government took over responsibilities in 1993. As the nation started to urbanize and develop quickly, it regulated the sector but allowed more private companies to deliver services, according to Narayana.

“Guidelines and standards were established, and a system to check and approve all new sewerage built by private developers was introduced,” he writes. “This resulted in a vast improvement in the quality of developer-built systems.”

A consultant in the sanitation and wastewater sector, Narayana analyzed Malaysia for the book Water Insecurity and Sanitation in Asia, published last month by the Asian Development Bank Institute and the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Investment in infrastructure

Malaysia has made a fast transition from a developing nation to an upper middle-income economy, using its new wealth to invest in infrastructure like sanitation.

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A new study shows that Malaysia has been able to spread access to toilets and safe sanitation to nearly 100% of the partial island nation. Pixabay

Narayana writes that it was a “drastic move” and “largely a top-down approach” for the national government to take over from local governments, but it mostly worked. At the same time Malaysia has been ruled largely by the same party since independence, making it easier for the national government to concentrate and wield power.

Private Companies became involved

It has loosened some of that power to allow private companies into sanitation.

“With the federalization and privatization, the country saw spectacular improvements in sewerage management,” Narayana, who is based in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, writes. “Unprecedented amounts of funds were invested for the repair, refurbishment, and upgrading of the dilapidated sewage treatment plants.”

However the government makes sure to include strict regulations to go along with private investment. When it allowed Indah Water to sell services for instance, it required the company to empty septic tanks on a regular schedule and renovate all related infrastructure to the point of operating condition. Also when companies build new real estate developments the law requires them to build internal sewerage infrastructure as well.

This matters to the government because it wants to promote sustainable use of resources, from water to energy to recycling, according to Malaysia’s deputy secretary general at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Hairil Yahri Yaacob. He argued that this issue has been overlooked amid the world’s focus on the economy, even though resource sustainability is also an economic issue.

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“What we have to realize is that there is opportunity directly linked to sustainability,” said Yaacob in a statement.

As with the economy, sanitation is a day to day concern that affects everyone. It is not something people love to talk about but in this tropical nation, public and private sector work on sanitation has led to measurable improvements in the lives and well-being of most Malaysians. (VOA)