INDORE: Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu today denied allegations of discrimination in selection of 'smart cities' in the first phase of the Centre's ambitious project.
Inaugurating the 'Smart City' scheme for Indore here, he said, "No discrimination was made in selecting 'smart cities'.
Neither me nor BJP has anything to do with the selection."
"The 20 cities that have qualified to build smart infrastructure in the first phase of the scheme managed it only through tough competition and better performance," Naidu said.
The Centre hand-picked the cities without any prejudice, he said.
"Cities like Varanasi which is the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some other cities that fall under Lok Sabha constituencies of Central ministers too were not chosen for the project," the senior BJP leader said.
"Those state governments and urban centres who are talking about discrimination in selection of smart cities should retrospect why they were excluded," he said.
People have to pay taxes if they want to avail modern facilities that will be made available in smart cities, Naidu added.
Indore is one of the 20 cities that is hand-picked in the first phase of the ambitious scheme.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who is the local MP, attended the function.
On the occasion, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said his government wants to develop Indore as a world city while preserving its rich cultural heritage.
"A sum of Rs 18,000 crore will be spent from various resources on development of Indore in the next five years," he said.
Chouhan said his government will convert tier-II and tier-III towns into "smart cities" by itself and "a plan is being readied to spend Rs 75,000 crore for this purpose".