Shimla: Dharamshala is finally made it to the second list of smart cities, declared by Government of India.The 13 winners of the Fast Track Smart Cities were declared by Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu in Delhi on Tuesday. The other cities include Lucknow, Warangal, Dharamsala, Chandigarh, Raipur, New Town Kolkata, Bhagalpur, Panaji, Port Blair, Imphal, Ranchi, Agartala and Faridabad.
Dharamshala has won the race due to efforts by Urban development minister, Sudhir Sharma, who represents Dharamshala and gave more precedence to the city in the lower area of the state vis a vis Shimla. In the midst of it, his action was even challenged by the CPM leader, Mayor of Shimla, Sanjay Chauhan in the High Court, who had challenged the Centre’s decision, saying it approved the claim of Dharamsala Municipal Council without adopting proper parameters. The state High Court on December 17 last had a side the central government notification to accordding Smart City status on Dharamsala under the Smart City Mission.
At that time, the court gave two weeks to the government to review the cities to be included on the basis of required criteria before making fresh recommendations. The Congress government, however, again moved the proposal for Dharamshala based on certain calculations. Though, of late, Urban Development Minister Sudhir Sharma had met Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi this month and raised the demand for including Shimla too as additional city under the Smart City Mission. He sought inclusion of Dharamsala, his home constituency, under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), which has already been extended to Shimla. Sharma said the state capital needed to be included under the Smart City Mission keeping in view its pre-eminent position as the largest city of the state and also its historical and heritage status.
Meanwhile, the people in lower areas of the state are happy over the inclusion of Dharamshala in the Smart city project of central government as it would help Dharamshala catch up with modern facilities. “We would atleast have one city in the lower areas of the state (like Shimla is in upper areas), which would develop fast,” said some locals of Dharamshala. It is pertinent to mention that even otherwise, the Congress government has always considered Dharamshala, the headquarters of biggest Kangra district, as the second most important city in Himachal Pradesh after Shimla.
Not only that the winter session of the state assembly is held in Shimla, thanks to the political move by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in his earlier tenure in 2005, Singh also started the tradition of winter stay in Dharamshala to enable the people of lower areas and far flung Chamba to meet him and share their grievances. The government had recently elevated the status of Dharamshala from Municipal Committee to Municipal Corporation.
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