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Modi government releases list of 98 cities to be developed into smart cities

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By NewsGram Staff-Writer

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New Delhi: Narendra Modi government, on Thursday released a list of 98 cities that will be included in its smart-cities program. The list has been prepared after detailed consultation with different states and Union territories.

The lion’s share of the list goes to Uttar Pradesh whose 13 cities have been included in the smart city initiative. 12 cities of Tamil Nadu, 10 cities of Maharashtra, 6 cities of Gujarat and Karnataka each has been included in the initiative, according to a report in Economic Times.

The States and the Union Territories finalized the list of cities from their region that they wanted to develop into smart-cities. The selection marks the end of first stage of the “City Challenge” competition wherein various local urban bodies were evaluated on various parameters like past track record, financial abilities, institutional capabilities etc.

Based on these evaluation, around 65 small and medium towns and cities have been included in the list whereas many important cities like Bengaluru, Patna, Kolkata, Noida and Gurgaon did not make it. Two more cities are yet to be added to the list one from Jammu and Kashmir and the last of the 13 cities from UP.

The next challenge for the selected cities is to create city-level smart city plans that will be evaluated and 20 high scoring cities will be selected for funding during this financial year.

The smart-city features include “centralized public information system, grievance redressal mechanism, proper conversion of waste into energy, fuel, and compost, renewable source of energy, efficient energy and green building, smart parking and intelligent traffic management system,” according to ET report.

The Center plans to allocate 200 crore rupees during first year and 100 crore rupees during subsequent three years for each of the selected cities. The total cost for developing 100 smart cities is expected to be 48,000 crore rupees.

The project will open up many investment opportunities for both the domestic and the foreign investors.

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As The Election Nears, India’s Opposition Promises Several Economic Steps

Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a "desperate alliance," while the BJP would give a "strong government."

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Rahul Gandhi, Election
Rahul Gandhi, president of India's main opposition Congress Party, speaks at a rally ahead of October's 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

India’s main opposition Congress Party will simplify the goods and services tax (GST) and make “rational economic decisions” to attract foreign investment if voted back to power in a general election due by May, leader Rahul Gandhi said Saturday.

Launched in 2017, the GST was initially hailed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest economic reform as it replaced more than a dozen federal and state levies and unified Asia’s third-largest economy.

But its chaotic implementation and complexities — months after a shock ban by Modi on high-value bank currency aimed at unearthing untaxed wealth — badly hurt small businesses and led to millions of job losses in the cash-driven economy, presenting the biggest challenge to Modi’s re-election chances.

India,India, elections, BJP
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents in New Delhi, India. VOA

 

Gandhi, scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, said during a visit to Dubai that foreign investment was at a multiyear low in India because of the “ill-advised and badly thought out economic moves” such as the currency ban and a “poorly designed GST.”

Quick growth promised

“We will take some rational economic decisions,” he told a press conference, which was broadcast live on Twitter. “We will restructure the GST and we will embrace investments from the Middle East and other parts of the world. We are the party of [India’s economic] liberalization; we are the party that gave the fastest economic growth in the first decade of the century, and will do that again.”

He said his main priority would be to create jobs, simplify the GST, rebuild confidence in institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India — whose governor resigned recently after a fight over autonomy with the government, and the Supreme Court.

Modi, election
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, is garlanded by BJP leaders on the first day of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

 

Four Supreme Court judges held a rare press conference early last year, saying that “unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country.”

Modi told a BJP convention in New Delhi on Saturday that for Congress “every institution was wrong and only they were right.”

The Congress press conference was organized by the Indian Overseas Congress, which is present in about 35 countries, as Gandhi tries to reach out to rich Indians living abroad for funds and social media support for the party that has dominated the country’s politics for decades before being nearly decimated in the last general election in 2014 by Modi.

But back home, Gandhi received a jolt when bitter rivals, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP), announced an election tie-up without Congress in Uttar Pradesh state, which sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament.

Narendra Modi, India, election
Elaborate preparations for PM’s election rally. VOA

“The BSP and SP have made a political decision,” Gandhi said. “It’s on us on how to strengthen the Congress Party in Uttar Pradesh and we will fight with our full capacity. Whether we do or their alliance does, the BJP is not winning there.”

Also Read:China, India Keen on Joint Ventures For e-vehicles

Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a “desperate alliance,” while the BJP would give a “strong government.”

The Hindu nationalist BJP lost power in three key states recently, forcing the government to announce a flurry of measures to woo small businesses and the less well-off since then. (VOA)