New Delhi, June 19, 2014: In a move aimed at giving fillip to the overall development of the holy city of Amritsar, the Union government today agreed to develop this sacred town as a ‘Smart City’ under its ambitious program to refurbish the country’s major cities on modern lines.
A decision to this effect was taken by the Union Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation Minister M Venkiah Naidu in a meeting with the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who called on the former at his office in Nirman Bhawan here this morning.
During the deliberations the Chief Minister impressed upon Naidu to include the sacred city of Amritsar in ‘Smart City’ project for ensuring its holistic development adding that due focus should also be laid on the comprehensive development of the satellite towns of this city. Badal said that as a large number of devotees visit this sacred city daily to pay their obeisance at Sri Harmandir Sahib and Durgiana Mandir besides offering their tributes to martyrs at Jallainwala Bagh memorial so it was the need of the hour to develop this city on modern lines to ensure ultra modern facilities to this historic city on the concept of “Smart cities”. “Cities like Varanasi and Amritsar preserve our ancient heritage and glorious cultural legacy so thrust must be laid on developing these cities to showcase them as world class tourist destinations besides offering modern facilities and civic amenities to the local residents” he added.
Acceding to the demand made by the Chief Minister, Naidu gave his consent to included Amritsar in the upcoming scheme of “Smart cities” so as to give further boost to its overall development. He assured Badal that Amritsar was a revered city for the entire humanity and NDA government would leave no stone unturned to develop it on modern lines by including it in the “Smart Cities” scheme. Naidu asked the Chief Minister in the meantime, till this scheme of smart cities was finalized get the requisite basic preparations done at their level so that they could later on be incorporated in the final plan.
Flagging up another issue, the Chief Minister apprised Mr. Naidu that the Ministry has sanctioned 19 projects for the state worth Rs 1720 crore out of which for three projects the state has already got first installment of Rs 85 crore out of the total Rs 682 crore. However he said that the grant for remaining 16 projects amounting to Rs 1037 crore was still pending with the Ministry, due to which the development projects in the state have badly hit. Seeking the prompt intervention of the Union Minister, Badal asked him to get these funds released expeditiously.
The Chief Minister also apprised Naidu that the State Level Sanctioning Committee had given its nod to 33 projects worth Rs 743 crore for Water Supply and Sewerage for small and medium Towns under the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). However, he said that the clearances for these projects were pending with the Ministry. Badal urged the Union Minister to expedite the process of appraisal by the Technical Appraisal Agency and release the funds for this project, henceforth.
Responding to the various issues raised by the Chief Minister, Naidu assured him that the Union government would extend all sort of help to the state government for ensuring the comprehensive development of the cities and towns of Punjab. The Union Minister also said that he would soon convene a meeting of the officers of his Ministry and evolve a strategy to resolve the issues raised by Badal. He also apprised the Chief Minister that the state has a lot of potential to get benefit from the National Urban Livelihood Mission, a scheme for opening skill centers to train the urban youth for gainful self employment adding that Punjab must reap the benefits of this scheme.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by Cabinet Minister Anil Joshi and his Principal Secretary SK Sandhu.