Old Indian cities like Varanasi, Amritsar, Kolkata and even Delhi, could be in for a facelift over the next few years with the Narendra Modi government planning to develop modern satellite towns around these cities under the 100 Smart City programme, while upgrading the decaying infrastructure of the old towns.
"The focus will be on education, entertainment, employment and environment management, so that the new cities feed into the old, like in the case of Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad," housing and urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu told ET in an interview.
All new cities will have integrated transport — modern bus systems, trams, metro rail and bicycle tracks — aided by satellite mapping, garbage disposal and solid waste management.
"You cannot build cities overnight. It takes 20-30 years to build a new city. Instead of just making new cities, our idea is to make our existing cities smart. There will be a mix. One, is to convert an old city into a smart one. Two, to build new cities wherever possible," said Naidu.
"The idea is to focus on specialised domains and equip cities with worldclass amenities. Integrated infrastructure will rolled out in these modern towns with emphasis on sanitation. To construct a city, you need to have a river close by. That has been the experience worldwide," he said. Naidu did not name any city that has been identified for a facelift but said his team has already started working on the project. Cities will be picked after consultation with the state governments.