The government’s ambitious smart cities project is progressing briskly and the ‘Smart Cities Mission is a step towards achieving the mission to improve the ease of living for Indians, particularly for the poor, women, elderly and differently-abled people, minister for urban affairs and housing Hardeep Singh Puri said here on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Smart Cities Summit organised by Ficci, he said all Indians should be able to enjoy a clean and sustainable environment. As a major player in digital revolution and a technology superpower, India must also leverage cutting edge technology to power its infrastructure, offices and homes, he said.

Puri said the Smart Cities Mission is progressing at a brisk pace and 90 cities have been selected so far. The selection of ten more cities will be announced shortly.

There are about 3000 projects worth Rs 1,40,000 crore at various stages of implementation. Tenders for projects worth Rs 16,000 crore have been invited, and more than Rs 1 lakh crore worth projects are being readied for issuance of tenders, he said. This will have a ‘Lighthouse’ effect. Other cities and regions around the smart cities will soon become centres of urban excellence, he said.

The minister said this is a new benchmark in terms of project implementation in a short duration of 2.5 years (first round of 20 cities were selected in January 2016, and last 30 cities were selected as recently as June 2017) which is a small period in terms of urban development life-cycle where transitions take place over decades.

This is also the first time that cities have created an institutional mechanism of special project vehicles (SPVs) at the city level. Till now 82 SPVs have been formed and considering the capacity gaps in cities, this is not a small achievement. For the first-time cities are thinking in terms of converging the objectives, resources and processes of projects taken up by various agencies towards realisation of a common vision, he said.