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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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The Answer to The Impending Questions On Demonetization Are Here

While it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

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Indian Currency. Pixabay

Nearly all of the currency removed from circulation in a surprise 2016 attempt to root out illegal hoards of cash came back into the financial system, Resever Bank of India  has announced, indicating the move did little to slow the underground economy.

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi’s currency decree, which was designed to destroy the value of billions of dollars in untaxed cash stockpiles, caused an economic slowdown and months of financial chaos for tens of millions of people or demonetization.

Modi announced in a November 2016 TV address that all 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes, then worth about $7.50 and $15, would be withdrawn immediately from circulation. The banned notes could be deposited into bank accounts but the government also said it would investigate deposits over 250,000 rupees, or about $3,700. The government eventually released new currency notes worth 500 and 2,000 rupees.

 

demonetization
An activist of Congress party hold the banned 500 and 1000 rupee notes.

 

In theory, the decree meant corrupt politicians and businesspeople would suddenly find themselves sitting on billions of dollars in worthless currency, known here as “black money.”

“A few people are spreading corruption for their own benefit,” Modi said in the surprise nighttime speech announcement of the order. “There is a time when you realize that you have to bring some change in society, and this is our time.”

But even as the decree caused turmoil for those in India who have always depended on cash — the poor and middle class, and millions of small traders — the rich found ways around the currency switch. In the months after the decree, businesspeople said that even large amounts of banned currency notes could be traded on the black market, though middlemen charged heavy fees.

demonetization
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with mayor, flickr

The reserve bank of India report said in its Wednesday report that 99.3 percent of the $217 billion in notes withdrawn from circulation had come back into the economy. Some officials had originally predicted that number could be as low as 60 percent.

Also Read: Diverse Gathering To Be Addressed This World BioFuel Day: PM Narendra Modi

“Frankly, I think demonetization was a mistake,” said Gurcharan Das, a writer and the former head of Proctor & Gamble in India. He said that while it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

“You can’t overnight change that in a country which is poor and illiterate. Therefore, for me it’s not only an economic failure but a moral failure as well,” Das said. (VOA)

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