06 January 2017 Current Affairs: Japan has decided to associate itself with the development of Chennai, Varanasi and Ahmedabad as smart cities.
This decision was announced on 5 January 2017 when the Japanese Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu met the Union Urban Development Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu. Kenji said that Japan was interested in the urban development initiatives of the Indian government and had decided to be its partner.
He further added, replying to Naidu’s observation about the need for a speedy action that Japan would like to match the action-oriented approach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Japan is however not the only country to express interest in being associated with India’s initiative of developing over 100 smart cities. Recently, Dominic Asquith, the British High Commissioner also met Naidu and discussed the implementation of the MoU signed between the two nations on cooperation in the urban development sector. The MoU was signed during the British Prime Minister, Theresa May’s recent visit to India.
Other countries who have already pledged their support to India include the United States Trade Development Agency (USTDA) for the cities of Visakhapatnam, Ajmer and Allahabad, the United Kingdom for Pune, Amaravati and Indore, France for Puducherry, Chandigarh and Nagpur and Germany for Coimbatore, Kochi and Bhubaneswar.
Smart Cities Project : The project was launched in 2014 by NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right after coming to power. It aims to develop 100 smart cities in the country by 2020.
The union government has set aside a budget of Rs 48000 Cr for the project.
Each smart city would get an assistance of about Rs 100 Cr every year for the period of next five years.
The selection process was conducted through an intra-city competition, where cities were evaluated on the basis of service levels, financial and institutional capacity, reforms and past track record.