BENGALURU: Davanagere and Belagavi edged out four other Karnataka cities to be selected for the Centre’s ‘Smart City’ project in the first phase. These two are among the 20 cities, with Bhubaneswar leading the pack, to be transformed into smart cities — an ambitious project of the Narendra Modi government.
Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday announced the top 20 city list, ranked according to the competition based on implementation framework, including feasibility and cost effectiveness.
The 20 were selected for the first phase from among 97 cities, which the Centre has identified for being made into smart cities.
Tumakuru, Hubballi-Dharwad, Mangaluru and Shivamogga are the other towns, which will be covered under this project in the next phases.
During the evaluation under the ‘Smart City Competition Challenge’, Davanagere was ranked 10th and garnered 59.93 per cent, while Belagavi came 15th, with 57.99 per cent.
The real work for the state begins now. The Centre will contribute Rs 194 crore in the first year for each city and later Rs 100 crore annually for five years.
The state is expected to match this amount. The Centre has laid down that the money allocated should be used only to create infrastructure that has ‘public benefit outcomes’.
For the implementation of the rest of the project, the state must rely on joint ventures, subsidiaries, public-private partnerships, and turnkey contracts.
A special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be set up for each city and will comprise members from the state and central governments and also from the urban local bodies. The SPV will plan, appraise, approve, release funds, implement, manage, operate, monitor and evaluate the smart city development projects.
State Urban Development Minister Vinay Kumar Sorake said Karnataka’s Chief Secretary Arvind Jadhav would participate in a meeting with central officials on Friday.
“As of now, we are awaiting guidelines from the Centre. We have to submit a report within two or three months,” he said.
What could probably make investment attractive for private investors is the monitoring by the Centre. Even the annual release of funds by the Centre will be subject to compliance with its guidelines, submission of a city scorecard every quarter and achievement of given milestones. Industry experts say monitoring by the Centre would make obtaining clearances smoother.
While Belagavi has already drawn interest from investors along with Hubballi-Dharwad, Shivamogga, Mysuru and Mangaluru, it is yet to be seen whether Davanagere will also draw equal interest, since the investors would like to have their pick of places to invest.
Sampathraman, former president, FKCCI, who is actively working with the chief minister’s office for the investors’ meet, said investors from abroad are interested in projects related to technology parks, elevated
expressways and green energy, all of which is welcome news for Davanagere and Belagavi.