Union Budget: Government pledges to make India smarter

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Government wants to develop 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities.
To transform Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream of creating 100 new smart cities into reality, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his maiden budget has announced to spend Rs 7,060 crore for the same. There is a necessity to develop urban infrastructure to sustain the ever increasing population drift from rural to urban areas.

Jaitley said that Modi "has a vision of developing 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernising the existing mid-sized cities. To provide the necessary focus to this critical activity, I have provided a sum of Rs 7,060 crore in the current fiscal."

Government wants to develop 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities

Considering the migration of rural population towards urban areas in search of employment and better standard of living, establishment of new, smart cities is need of the hour. To ease the burden over existing metro cities, already facing the problems of overcrowding, it is important to create new ones equipped with all facilities like proper drinking water, roads, houses, and planned sewage treatment plants.

"Unless new cities are developed to accommodate the burgeoning number of people, the existing cities would soon become unliveable," the Finance Minister added.

"To encourage development of smart cities, requirement of the built-up area and capital conditions for FDI is being reduced from 50,000 square metres to 20,000 square metres and from $10 million to $5 million, respectively with a three year post completion lock in," he added.

Improved metro, road, air transportation:

In its bid to improve transportation facilities in non-metro cities like Lucknow and Ahmedabad, the Government has proposed metro train projects.

"Metro projects for cities with over 20 lakh population must begin now. Lucknow and Ahmedabad to get metro trains."

Not only metro, improving road transport too lies on Government's agenda since new roads and highways help in growth of smaller cities and towns.

To improve country's road infrastructure, Jaitley announced an allocation of Rs 35,238 crore for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in this fiscal.

To encourage air travel in the country, the Government has also planned to develop new airports in smaller cities and towns.

The Airport Authority of India (AAI) will build the airports through public private partnership (PPP) process, the minister told the Lok Sabha.

"While air travel has increased, it is still a dream of many Indian to fly. Non-metro airports in the country now account for only about 30 per cent of the total air traffic but this is expected to rise to 45 per cent in the next few years. India plans to build 200 low-cost airports in the next 20 years to connect tier-II and tier-III cities," the minister said.

The Government has finished development work at 33 non-metro airports for increasing regional connectivity. The government also plans to construct 15 additional airports under the greenfield airport policy by identifying the most suitable low cost viable model.

Tackling looming power crisis:

Almost every city in India looms under power crisis. To tackle the ongoing crisis, the minister has also promised steps to ensure 24x7 power supply to every household. Jaitley allocated a sum of Rs 200 crore to improve Delhi's ongoing power crisis.

Modi Government's move of creating 100 smart cities is certainly a significant move to improve India's urban infrastructure and tackle the problem of population explosion.

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