According to the government, a smart city "is one having provision of basic infrastructure to give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of smart solutions, keeping the citizens at the centre".
The government had announced an ambitious plan to develop 100 smart cities following a promise made by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in its election manifesto.
The Centre has set aside Rs. 48,000 crore for the mission and the money will be released to urban local bodies at frequent intervals in the next five years. State governments have been asked to generate the rest of the Rs. 48,000 crore as the grand total of the mission is estimated at Rs. 96,000 crore.
The mission intends to promote adoption of smart solutions for efficient use of available assets, resources and infrastructure to enhance the quality of urban life and provide a clean environment.
Under the smart cities initiative, the focus will be on core infrastructure services like adequate and clean water supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transportation, affordable housing for the poor, power supply, robust information technology, connectivity, governance, especially e-governance and citizen participation, safety and security of citizens, health and education and sustainable urban environment.
As part of the Smart Cities Mission, each selected city would get central assistance of Rs.100 crore per year for five years.
The smart city mission involves "an area based approach" and is meant to set examples that can be replicated within and outside the smart city.
The cities were selected based on "city challenge competition" with grading done on the basis of criteria that included their revenues, expenditure, availability of infrastructure relating to transport, drinking water and solid waste management.
The selected cities prepared city-level "smart city plans" and those were evaluated in the second stage of competition based on a broad set of criteria to pick up the top scoring 20 cities for financing during this financial year.
Other cities will be asked to improve upon the identified deficiencies before participating in the next two rounds of competition.