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Government to declare list of first 20 Smart Cities today

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A list of first 20 out of the 97 cities to be refined as Smart Cities will be announced on Thursday, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday.

These cities will be developed to have elementary infrastructure through assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation.

In the consiecutive years, the government will announce 40 cities each to be developed as Smart Cities as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to develop 100 Smart Cities in the country.

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Speaking on questions and the way ahead for urban development, Naidu said perpetuation of inequities in urban areas has serious implications for national security and hence, the government is committed to ensuring inclusive development under new initiatives like Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart City Mission, Swachh Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).

Naidu stressed on the need for broad urban development, noting that “it was the need of the hour with ‘Young India’ becoming more and more aspirational”.

He signify concern regarding the exploitation of urban spaces by the well-to-do sections of the society at the cost of the poor and the marginalised and stressed on inclusivity while taking decisions related to urban governance.

Giving priority on the need for sustainable urban development, Naidu said, “Cities should be water positive through water harvesting, recycling and reuse of water, energy positive with each household resorting to renewable sources of energy, and community positive facilitating interactive neighbourhoods.”

He said the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) had earlier this week approved a Rs 253 crore plan for enabling 10,000 houses of economically not strong sections in Tamil Nadu produce solar power through roof-mounted solar panels.

Naidu mentioned to the growing impact of climate change and urged people not to use vehicles to go for buying a milk packet, vegetables or to the nearby park for morning walk and advocated living in harmony with nature through green friendly construction.

He said the government has reoriented urban development approaches to assure inclusive development through mandatory citizen’s participation in urban planning and project identification, provision of basic infrastructure to the poor like water and sewer connections, affordable houses for 2 crore urban poor, promotion of cycling and pedestrian pathways, provision of open spaces, transparent and responsive governance, adoption of technology for efficient service delivery and infrastructure use.

He said project-based and ad-hoc urban development approach hitherto followed has been substituted by area based development and project formulation after abundant gap analysis.

States and urban local bodies have been empowered to identify, appraise and accept projects with his two urban ministries withdrawing from appraisal and approval of individual projects.

wefornews bureau

India

Congress to welcome farmers’ tractor rally in Delhi

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The Congress in Delhi will welcome the farmers’ tractor rally on January 26 on the rally route to pledge solidarity with the farmers demanding the repeal of the three farm laws. The Congress workers have been asked by the party to welcome the rally on various points in the capital.

The Congress said the farm laws, if implemented in the present form, will be a total sell-out of the farm sector to a few chosen corporates supporting the BJP, therefore the farmers demand repeal of the laws.

Chowdhry Anil Kumar, President of the Delhi Congress unit said, “The farmers have been protesting on the borders of Delhi for over the past 60 days, braving the bone-chilling cold weather, demanding the repeal of the anti-farmer laws, and over 100 farmers have already become martyrs to the cause, and I will personally welcome the tractor rally.”

He alleged that the Modi government seems to be unmoved by the plight of the farmers, and adamant that it will not repeal the three laws after 11 rounds of talks with the farmers have produced no result, as the government is firm on not repealing the laws and is just fooling the farmers by holding futile talks. He said that the tractor rally will be a loud statement of the farmers’ anguish and anxiety.

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Congress has high hopes with DMK in Tamil Nadu

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The Congress is pinning its hopes on the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, where it will contest in alliance with the DMK, with former party president Rahul Gandhi making a trip to the southern state twice in 10 days and is expected to visit the state again in February.

Rahul Gandhi has been invoking Tamil pride in the state and attacking the BJP and AIADMK. In one of his speeches, the Congress leader said, “The Prime Minister says one language, one culture and one nation. Is Tamil not an Indian language? Is Tamil history not Indian history?”

Attacking the BJP, Rahul Gandhi said in another of his speeches, “It is an honour for me to be here with you. Whenever I come to Tamil Nadu, I am struck by your enthusiasm and by the way you live your life, something that I call Tamil spirit. No matter what difficulty you face, you always have a smile on your face and remain positive.”

He also said that in every non-BJP ruled state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi uses the CBI and ED to attack the opposition. “Why is the ED and the CBI not investigating the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister? What has the CM given to PM Modi in exchange for this? That is the central question,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi also alleged that Modi has the remote control to the government of Tamil Nadu, but the people of the state will take the batteries out of his remote control and throw them away.

The DMK-Congress alliance had outsmarted the AIADMK in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and holds an advantage in the Assembly elections as the ruling party lacks a charismatic leader such as Jayalalitha.

While the DMK has an alliance with the Congress, the AIADMK is likely to go with the BJP. The Congress is optimistic as its alliance with the DMK and the CPI(M) had won 38 out of the 39 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

There is also an anti-incumbency factor in Tamil Nadu with the AIADMK ruling the state for two terms now.

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Bring Bill in Budget Session to repeal farm laws, demands Trinamool

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With just five days to go for the Parliament’s Budget Session to commence on January 29, the Trinamool Congress on Monday demanded the government to introduce a new Bill to repeal the three farm laws.

Addressing a press conference here, Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien said, “All of you know Trinamul Congress’ stand on the three farm laws and Mamata Banerjee’s commitment on the issue of land and farmers. In the upcoming session of the Parliament, the government must introduce a Bill and turn it into an Act to repeal the three farm laws.”

“Ddemocracy was murdered in the Rajya Sabha. The government must introduce a Bill and repeal the three farm laws,” O’Brien added.

The Trinamool leader also compared the PM Kisan scheme to the Krishak Bandhu scheme being run in West Bengal by the Trinamul Congress government. “Under the Krishak Bandhu scheme, a farmer gets Rs 5,000 per acre, while under the PM Kisan scheme, a farmer gets Rs 1,214 per acre,” he

Highlighting the other important points of the state government run scheme for the farmers, O’Brien said, “In Bengal, there is scope for all the farmers, while under the PM Kisan scheme, the benefits will be received only by small and marginal farmers with up to 2 hectares of land.”

He said that Krishak Bandhu’s coverage is 100 per cent in the state, while PM Kisan has a coverage of only 92 per cent.he said.

O’Brien added that under the Krishak Bandhu scheme, if a farmer between the age of 18 and 60 years dies, his family gets a benefit of Rs 2 lakh, but there is no such provision under the PM Kisan scheme in case of a farmer’s sudden death.

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