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The Centre has approved a total investment of about Rs 11,000 crore under various programmes in the last three years to improve infrastructure and living conditions in urban areas of Punjab, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said today. The Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs said that central assistance of about Rs 4,000 crore has been approved for Punjab for implementation of new urban missions like - Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart City, Swachh Bharat, Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). "This is likely to further increase as we go along," he said at a press conference here. This scale of investments was not provided for urban development in the past, he said. The minister stated that only 7,037 houses were sanctioned for urban poor in Punjab during the ten years between 2004 and 2014, while the Modi government has already sanctioned 42,497 houses for Punjab with an investment of Rs 1,182 crore. "There is substantial scope for more such investments since the demand for affordable housing in urban areas of the state is reported to be about 4 lakh houses," Puri said. To begin with, the central government is focusing on improving basic urban infrastructure related to water supply, sewerage and drainage networks, non-motorised transport, parks and open spaces, power supply, health and education facilities, sanitation, road infrastructure etc in urban areas with a population of above one lakh each. This is being done under Atal Mission and Smart City Mission, he said. The minister further said that 'Swachh Bharat Mission' and 'Housing for All mission' are being implemented in all the 4,041 statutory cities and towns of the country, including in Punjab. In Punjab, there are 163 such statutory cities and towns that have an elected local body. Of these, 16 cities and towns with a population of over one lakh each have been included in Atal Mission. These include Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Punjab which are included in Smart City Mission as well. These 16 cities and towns account for 60 per cent of urban population of Punjab. A substantial investment of Rs 9,471 crore has been approved for five years for these 16 cities for improving basic urban infrastructure. This comes to about Rs 16,270 per head and it will further increase when more and more housing projects get approved in due course, he added. Puri said, "For Amritsar, a total investment of Rs 3,754 crore has so far been approved under new urban missions. These include Rs 3,430 crore under Smart City Mission, Rs 247 crore under Atal Mission, Rs 77 crore for affordable housing and Rs 60 crore under HRIDAY scheme.
This comes to Rs 30,300 per head which is quite substantial." "During the last three years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought about a radical change in the way we think and approach the Mission of 'Making Of a Developed India (MODI)'. This is based on a paradigm shift in our attitudes and strategies," Puri said. Puri said, "The purpose of my visit to Amritsar and Punjab is to assure the state government and the people of Punjab that the government of India will work shoulder to shoulder with the state government in the development of the state and particularly, in improving the state of affairs in cities and towns." The minister further said, "Atal Mission, Smart City Mission and the Housing for All Mission in urban areas were launched in June 2015 which is little over two years back. Thereafter, the then state government started working on converting approved action plans into specific projects for execution on ground. Then came the election time for the State Assembly. As a result, Punjab is lagging behind in providing necessary momentum for implementation of the new urban missions. "I would like to appeal to the state government and in particular to Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to focus on speedy execution of these important urban missions which would go a long way in making a difference to the quality of life in the cities and towns of the state," he said. Puri said that he was planning a detailed joint review soon with the chief minister, concerned ministers and senior officials of the state government to discuss progress of the schemes and further speedy execution. The minister began his visit to Amritsar with paying obeisance at the Golden Temple. He also visited the Jallianwala Bagh and paid tributes to the martyrs.