Patna: Sights set on fast urbanisation of the state, Bihar today urged the Centre to include its 20 towns in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship scheme of developing 100 smart cities.
Participating in a national-level workshop on smart cities in the national capital today, state urban development minister Samrat Chaudhary made the demand. Ironically, Patna is the only city in Bihar to have an existing master plan or a proposed one — a preliminary condition for getting selected for the scheme.
Admitting the situation, the minister said only Patna would qualify to be in the list of smart cities according to the current criterion but that would not be enough. “We are largely a rural state and basic amenities in even towns and cities are poor. People migrate from villages to towns for better lives but end up living even worse. On the other hand, the Prime Minister has proposed that cities with more than 10 lakh population, which have a heritage or are of religious significance, would be upgraded. It won’t help us much till the Centre pays heed to our special requirements,” said Chaudhary.
He also said as the state was backward financially and its population density was very high, it had not done well on parameters of civic infrastructure. “Therefore, we want that all our 11 municipal corporation cities and nine other towns, including Madhubani and Motihari, be chosen for the project,” said the minister.
“According to the preliminary plan, every state is likely to get not more than three to four smart cities, including the state capital. Thus, it is unlikely that Bihar’s demand for 20 smart cities would be accepted. Besides Patna, Gaya-Bodhgaya and Bhagalpur-Sultanganj have the potential of being developed as smart cities,” said a senior state government official.
Several states raised eyebrows at Bihar’s demand of the lion’s share in the Centre’s mega scheme. “It is ridiculous what they want. There are other states in the country too. If the criterion is that a city should have more than 1 million population to be covered under the project, why should Bihar come up with such a unrealistic proposal?” asked Chaudhary’s counterpart from a neighbouring state.
Union minister for urban development Venkaiah Naidu told the states that the smart cities would have 24x7 availability of high-quality utility services like water and power.
The cities would be selected after a series of meetings with the states, considering their financial and social infrastructure statuses, Naidu said.