Lucknow

Rae Bareli, Meerut not invited to Smart City presentation meet

LUCKNOW: In yet another strong indication of Rae Bareli and Meerut being struck off the list of towns to be developed as Smart Cities, chief secretary Alok Ranjan on Friday did not invite the municipal heads of the two cities to present a final draft plan of the ambitious project of the NDA government.

While representatives from 12 cities made their presentations, officials from Rae Bareli and Meerut were conspicuous by their absence.

The list of presentations to be made before the chief secretary clearly showed the exclusion of both Rae Bareli and Meerut. The 12 cities of Agra, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Rampur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Aligarh, Allahabad, Bareilly, Ghaziabad, Jhansi and Kanpur made their presentations that are scheduled to be sent to the Centre soon.

In November, the UP government had refused permission to the municipal heads of Rae Bareli and Meerut to attend a national workshop in New Delhi, thus making its intention clear of removing the two cities from the list of those to be developed into Smart Cities.

While secretary, urban development, SP Singh refused to comment, a senior official in the department said that the situation had arisen because of a face-off between the UP government and the Centre over selection between any of the two cities.

The Centre had allocated a quota of 13 cities in UP to be developed into Smart Cities. However, UP government pitched for 14, including Rae Bareli, the constituency of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and Meerut, represented by BJP MP Rajendra Agarwal. In fact, the state government invited financial bids from a panel of 10 consultants for developing all 14 cities in September.

Sources said the fresh move comes after the Centre pressed the state government to choose either of the two. “Both cities had scored equally on the Centre’s parameters. Including one and omitting the other would have sent a wrong message to the people in the cities,” said a senior government official. “Therefore, the state government has restricted itself from taking any further action,” the official said.

Earlier, cabinet minister Azam Khan had given the impasse a political colour when he said that he was willing to withdraw his assembly constituency Rampur from the list if controversy between Rae Bareli and Meerut persisted. This came after Union minister Venkaiah Naidu claimed that the state government had given priority to Rae Bareli over Meerut that the BJP represents.

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