The government will add 40 more cities to the list of towns it wants to develop as Smart Cities by next month by providing funds for initiating urban reforms, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday.
The addition of 40 new cities will take the total Smart Cities to 100. Since January last year, the government has announced three lists of smart cities which will get Rs 200 crore for improving their infrastructure.
"There is a new urban renaissance taking place. We have problems, but our cities and towns are galvanised to meet new challenges, new ideas, and a new orientation," said the Urban Development Minister at Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in Gandhinagar.
The approach, he said, is to make cities more livable. "We have identified 100 cities across the country...60 cities are already on the move. This month or next month, we will be adding another 40 cities to take it to 100 smart cities across the country. But even 100 is not sufficient for a country of India's size," he added.
Naidu said the housing sector offers ample opportunities, following various schemes announced by the government.
"By 2022, everyone must have a house of his own... That is the ambitious programme set by the Prime Minister. There have been announcements recently on lowering interest rates for affordable housing and, this coupled with Real Estate Regulation and Development Bill will be a boon for the housing sector," he said.
India is the only bright spot in a world where economic growth rates are slowing down, he said.
The country is undergoing a massive transformation, Naidu said, adding that there is now a "healthy competition" among the states on developmental issues. "States are competing, there is a healthy competition amongst States, vis a vis development."
Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the governance narrative has changed from "populism" to "peopleism", with the latter focusing on the best interest of citizens.
"What is in the best interest of people...They want clean water, roads, job opportunities etc." he said.
On making Delhi's landmark Connaught Place vehicle-free, Naidu said the response to the proposal had been positive. "It should be a place for people to eat, meet and greet. I want such places all across the country," he said.