The Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) approved by the Union Cabinet in April 2015, aims at making cities more livable and inclusive along with economic growth. The Cabinet has approved the Smart Cities Mission and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation of 500 cities (AMRUT) with outlays of Rs.48,000 crore and Rs.50,000 crore respectively.

AMRUT would initially include the major components of the JNNURM program but it would also contain a few inclusions suggested by the Prime Minister, NarendraModi. Building roads and flyovers, augmentation of water supply, collection and treatment of sewage and garbage would be included from the initial program. Wi-fi zones in the cities and digitization are some of the new aspects that form the backbone of AMRUT. Much importance would be laid upon monitoring the scheme and tendering projects only if the preparatory work is complete. The purpose of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) is to, (1) ensure that every household gets a tap with assured supply of water and sewerage connection, (2) increase the amenity value of cities by developing greenery and well maintained open spaces (e.g. parks) and, (3) reduce pollution by switching over to public transport or constructing facilities for non-motorized transport (e.g. walking and biking). It will further aim to improve governance, especially electronic delivery of services. This Mission will be implemented in 500 cities and towns each with a population of one lakh and above, some cities situated on stems of main rivers, a few capital cities and important cities located in hilly areas, islands and tourist areas.

The difference: Smart Cities would be chosen through a ‘City Challenge Competition’ that would evaluate preparedness and capacity of cities that are sponsored by their state governments. Initially about 20 cities would be taken up for a Union grant of Rs 100 crores per year for five years. One can assume that over five years, all 100 cities would be taken up under the smart cities mission. AMRUT cities, with over one lakh population (0.1 mn) would be finalised by the union government in consultation with state governments.

The two missions are interlinked. AMRUT adopts a project approach to ensure basic infrastructure services relating to water supply, sewerage, septage management, storm water drains, transport and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children. Implementation of this Mission will be linked to promotion of urban reforms such as e-governance, constitution of professional municipal cadre, devolving funds and functions to urban local bodies, review of Building bye-laws, improvement in assessment and collection of municipal taxes, credit rating of urban local bodies, energy and water audit and citizen-centric urban planning. 10 percent of budget allocation will be given to States/UTs as incentive based on achievement of reforms during the previous year. A reform matrix with timelines would be circulated to the States in the Guidelines. Under this Mission, States get the flexibility of designing schemes based on the needs of identified cities and in their execution and monitoring. States will only submit State Annual Action Plans to the Centre for broad concurrence based on which funds will be released. In a significant departure from JNNURM, Central Government will not appraise individual projects.

Central assistance will be to the extent of 50 percent of project cost for cities and towns with a population of up to 10 lakh and one-third of the project cost for those with a population of above 10 lakh. Central assistance will be released in three installments in the ratio of 20:40:40 based on achievement of milestones indicated in State Annual Action Plans. AMRUT seeks to lay a foundation to enable cities and towns to eventually grow into smart cities.

The architecture of the Smart Cities Mission and AMRUT is guided by the twin objectives of meeting the challenges of growing urbanization in the country in a sustainable manner as well as ensuring the benefits of urban development to the poor through increased access to urban spaces and enhanced employment opportunities.  

Source: AMRUT: Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation