The Narendra Modi government's plan to set up smart cities in the country will get off the ground by the end of this month with the start of the selection process, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Monday.
Observing that the smart cities are envisaged to be created under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, he told the national convention of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) that he looked forward to working with industry once the smart city concept was rolled out by next month.
"A Smart Cities Challenge system will be approved by the cabinet anytime this month. Cities must qualify themselves through city-challenge criteria like sanitation, clean water, power, greenery quotient and ratio between revenue and expenditure on municipal salaries," Naidu said.
Pointing to recent studies that showed urban local bodies to be spending up to 84 per cent of revenues on employees' salaries, Naidu said the municipal corporations in Delhi have claimed they have no money to pay wages.
The key focus of the government would be to reinforce transparency and accountability in the system, the minister said.
"We'll go for open offer, technical and financial bids," he said, adding that many foreign companies are showing interest in the project.
He said the government's role will be that of facilitator or "handholding", for the project of regeneration of urban local bodies through the initiative.