NEW DELHI: Surat has emerged as India's highest ranked smart city with the largest number of projects implemented and completed under the Smart City Mission.
The country's textile and diamond trading hub has stolen a march over other contenders including some state capitals in the official rankings that have been compiled about two years after the Narendra Modi government announced the first 20 cities to be developed as smart cities .
A look at the rankings, shared exclusively by the ministry of housing and urban affairs with ET, reveals that as in the case of other flagship programmes of the Modi government, BJP-ruled states are faring better than non-BJP ones. Seven of the 10 top-ranked cities are those ruled by the BJP , including Prime Minister's home state Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Surat is closely followed by Pune at number two, Visakhapatnam, Udaipur, Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Coimbatore, Jaipur and Indore. The progress of the mission has been slow across the 20 cities. As per statistics provided by the ministry to ET, 964 projects worth Rs 46,800 crore have been planned in the 20 "lighthouse" smart cities, announced in January 2016.
Two years after the announcement of these cities, only 83 of 964 projects (8.6% of the projects) have been completed. "The concept was new so it took time to take shape at the state-level," said a senior official, who did not wish to be identified.
The first few months saw a special purpose vehicle ( SPV ) being floated by the cities to oversee the progress and manage the Smart City Mission. The ministry expects work to be seen on the ground by the end of 2018. "The average time period for implementing the projects is 18 months, so most of these projects would be completed by year-end," said the official.
A major chunk of the projects planned in the 20 smart cities are infrastructure projects (626 projects worth Rs 26,714 crore). After winning the smart city competition, which was a pan-India competition to choose the most innovative plans, the 20 cities opted for solar projects, improvement of water supply and smart roads.
Almost all cities have planned command and control centres - which are planned as the nerve centre of the city to control urban services like city-wide Wi-Fi network, safety and security, citizen feedback management, integrated traffic management, parking and other citizen services.
Many cities have come up with innovative projects. A case in point is Bhopal's bicycle sharing scheme. Envisaged as a feeder service to Bhopal's bus rapid transit system, the project comprises 12 km of dedicated bicycle tracks around 50 locations where bicycles are placed and from where you can hire a cycle using a mobile app.
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