Kochi to be the Only Smart City in Kerala. Tamil Nadu gets 12.

Why only one? Why do people keep doing this to Thrivanathapuram? No High Court bench, Vizhinjam Port is still not of the woods and now this. Kochi is going to be the only city in Kerala which is going to get assistance to be a ‘smart city’.

Tamil Nadu, has got 12 cities approved. No, that’s not a typo. TWELVE. Even Telengana got two. Why did Kerala just get one and why was it Kochi not Thiruvanathapuram?

According to the guidelines, the Ministry of Urban Development, every state has to nominate according to how many cities they are allowed. Kerala was allowed to nominate one. The Government of Kerala choose Kochi, it beat Thriruvanathapuram (second) and Thrissur (Third). Kochi scored 90/100 in the challenge round.

Wait, why were we allowed just one?

8.1 The total number of 100 Smart Cities have been distributed among the States and UTs on the basis of an equitable criteria. The formula gives equal weightage (50:50) to urban population of the State/UT and the number of statutory towns in the State/UT. Based on this formula, each State/UT will, therefore, have a certain number of potential Smart Cities, with each State/ UT having at least one. This distribution is given in Annexure 2. The number of potential Smart Cities from each State/UT will be capped at the indicated number. (This distribution formula has also been used for allocation of funds under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation – AMRUT).

You can download the complete guidelines document here

Got it? There is formula based on urban population number of statutory towns in the state (What does this even mean?). And the result of this formula gives us the minimum. One. Same as Lakshadweep and Andaman Nicobar Islands. Each selected city will get one billion rupees ($15.1 million) each year.

9.1 Each aspiring city competes for selection as a Smart City in what is called a ‘City Challenge’. There are two stages in the selection process. After the number has been indicated to the respective Chief Secretaries, as outlined in para 8 above, the State/UT will undertake the following steps:-

9.1.1 Stage 1 of the competition:

Shortlisting of cities by States
The State/UT begins with shortlisting the potential Smart Cities on the basis of conditions precedent and scoring criteria and in accordance with the total number allocated to it. The first stage of the competition will be intra-state, in which cities in the State will compete on the conditions precedent and the scoring criteria laid out. These conditions precedent have to be met by the potential cities to succeed in the first round of competition and the highest scoring potential Smart Cities will be shortlisted and recommended to participate in Stage 2 of the Challenge. The conditions precedent and the forms are given in the Annexure 3. The
information sent by the ULBs in the forms has to be evaluated by the State Mission Director and the evaluation placed before the State-level High Powered Steering Committee (HPSC) for approval. The composition of the State HPSC is given in para 13.

The cities emerging successful in the first round of competition will be sent by the State/UT as the recommended shortlist of Smart Cities to MoUD by the stipulated date (to be indicated in the letter to Chief Secretaries). The State Government has to fill the form (given in Annexure 3) and send with the recommended list. The MoUD will thereafter announce the list of 100 Smart Cities.

9.1.2 Stage 2 of the competition: The Challenge round for selection
In the second stage of the competition, each of the potential 100 Smart Cities prepare their proposals for participation in the ‘City Challenge’. This is a crucial stage as each city’s Smart City Proposal is expected to contain the model chosen, whether retrofitting or redevelopment or greenfield development or a mix thereof, and additionally include a Pan-City dimension with Smart Solutions.

The Indian Smart Cities Challenge has a great website. It is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Kochi Corporation website on the other hand is a disaster. And sadly the Smart Cities website’s Kochi page links the the corporation website.

I am certain the reason Tamil Nadu and Telengana got more smart cities is because their politicians and bureaucrats fought for it. Karnataka has five. And let’s not forget our very own Smart City, in December 2014, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy stated, “Rs. 5000 crore SmartCity Kochi project to be ready by March 2015“. We are in August now.

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