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Govt will soon unveil policy on smart cities: Secretary, Union Urban Development Ministry
The Ministry of Urban Development has began the exercise for formation of a new policy on Smart Cities in tandem with the thought process, as conceived and pronounced by the Prime Minister Modi, in which there would prevail all modern amenities and infrastructure supported and well equipped with existing technologies to enable its possessor reap benefits of modern civil life.

Disclosing this at a National Real Estate Summit 2014 organized by PHD Chamber of Commerce and M3M India here today, Secretary, Union Ministry of Urban Development Shankar Aggarwal added that the proposed policy would soon be unveiled with due deliberations will all stakeholders.

The builders and developers for the smart cities would be adequately rewarded with incentives and tax sops since 90 per cent of investments in such cities would pour in from the private sector for which the real estate rules and regulations be drastically pruned to woo their investments in them, indicated Shankar, adding that the government is likely to repeal the existing red tapes to ensure optimum participation of the private sector.

"The Prime Minister has already asked the Urban Development Ministry to make all possible attempts to drastically remove old and prototype procedures, replacing them with new set of reform oriented approach to develop new real estate as per guidelines of new policy under which creation of 100 smart cities would become practically possible as demanded and required by inhabitants of modern world," said Shankar.

The major component of Smart City, according to the Secretary, would comprise a Smart Infrastructure- providing roads, pedestrian pathways, public toilets, water & sewer networks, street lightning networks, signal systems, gas supply systems, solid waste management systems, drainage network, safety and security devices.

Chairman & Managing Director, Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited (HUDCO) Dr. M Ravi Kanth in his presentation called for reduced rates of interest for housing activities and setting up of smart cities so that these come up within the stipulated time period. He, however, cautioned that credit exposure should be restricted to those entrepreneurs who willfully turn defaulter and discourage the financial institutions to narrow their exposures for real estate activities for fair of increasing their non-performing assets.

Elaborating on the many aspects where the fast emerging smart city culture will impact our lifestyles, even our lives, Kunal Banerji, Chief Marketing Officer, M3M Group, said "India is urbanizing rapidly and there is a huge gap between demand and supply in the housing sector which is estimated to only rise further in the future. To cater to this demand, we need to build new cities and not just housing projects and townships. These cities will be driven by technology, usher in optimum use of space, offer sizeable green space, provide robust infrastructure in all spheres including rapid transportation with minimum human intervention."

In his welcome remarks Senior Vice President of PHD Chamber Alok B Shriram urged the government to reduce the cost of borrowing for the housing sector, explaining that this can be achieved by providing interest subvention for low income borrowers. "Housing faces a disproportionate incidence of taxes amounting to more than 35 per cent of the cost of a completed unit. This can be partially alleviated by giving tax treatment of SEZs to affordable housing projects and providing benefits under Section 35 AD to the real estate sector," he said.

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