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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday unveiled three mega flagship schemes aimed at developing cities and towns as "new engines for growth" 

Underscoring the need for a bigger, stronger urban India, the PM said, "Governments should have looked at urbanisation as an opportunity to drive growth. India's population is aspiring better standards of living and quality of life and this urban push is the first step in that direction." 

"40% of our population stays in cities. How can they get better quality of life at a time when everyone is looking at India," asked Modi at a gathering of mayors and heads of urban local bodies from around 500 Indian cities. 

"We cannot leave our poor to their fate. It is our responsibility," he said. "This is the first time that in India that we are planning to develop 60 cities simultaneously." Stressing on the people's plan he said, "The decision to make cities smart will be taken not by governments but by the people of the city, the local administration." 

PM Narendra Modi launches Smart Cities Mission, says Centre committed to urban India
The prime minister pitched for consumer interest in realty. "This government attaches importance to consumer security. The builder lobby's image is very negative today, we are getting law in Parliament on it."

The three projects -- 100 smart cities, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Housing for All - will ring in a new urban era, which will entail an investment of over Rs 3 lakh crore in the next five years. 

The prime minister also unveiled logo of the housing mission, which has his personal touch in the finalisation of its design. The Smart City and AMRUT projects will draw Rs 48,000 crore and and Rs 50,000 crore, respectively, in central grants over five years. Asking states to chip in with the plan, the PM said, "development can't create friction between cities, rural areas. We have to make over 20 million houses." 

PM Narendra Modi launches Smart Cities Mission, says Centre committed to urban India
The government, he said, will follow a bottom-up approach while developing smart cities. "Effective management of growing urbanisation is a major challenge towards the making of resurgent India. Resource management is a major challenge and our government sees an opportunity in this," he told reporters here. 

The Smart City project seeks to enhance quality of life in 100 selected cities with 24 hour water and power supply, world class transportation system, better education and recreational facilities, e-governance and environment-friendly atmosphere, among others. The Smart City project will be based on PPP model, Naidu said.

AMRUT seeks to ensure basic infrastructure for 500 cities with a population of above one lakh. Ensuring water supply to each household, sewer connections, sanitation and solid waste management, provision for roads and public transportation beside implementation of reforms in urban governance would be the focus under the scheme. 

(This news story is from The Economic Times)
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