Source- India Infoline News Service

India in 2012: 153 rural, 219 transition, 84 semi-urban and 33 urban districts (excluding the Northeast states and Jammu & Kashmir).

India in 2012: 153 rural, 219 transition, 84 semi-urban and 33 urban districts (excluding the Northeast states and Jammu & Kashmir). And in 2025: 96 rural, 220 transition, 115 semi-urban and 58 urban districts. These numbers from McKinsey & Company’s recent report, India’s Economic Geography in 2025: States, Clusters and Cities, attest to the country’s growing urban sprawl. Attendant woes, though, include a big city bias with the major cities consuming a bulk of natural and financial resources as well as unplanned development. With this mind, analysing factors like household income, expenditure and variables related to standard of living, FIRST Sm@rt Cities Council, along with the support of premier economic research firm Indicus Analytics, has put together a list of the Top 20 Promising Cities, with a population of over a million and excluding the metros, in India. FIRST Sm@rt Cities Council has further explored the infrastructure opportunities in these already promising cities. Pratap Padode, Chairman, FIRST Sm@rt Cities Council, said, “Every city has a commercial logic for its existence. Cities that have a sustainable commercial existence hold promise. No wonder that Maharashtra, which hosts the commercial capital and contributes 6% of GDP has six of its cities among the top 20 while Gujarat has three.” Prof Jagan Shah, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs, says, “Today, it is evident that other than the six existing metros – Chennai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru – new economic centres of growth are emerging. It is equally evident that we need to shift focus to these smaller cities, to plan carefully before growth overruns them. We will have a better chance to integrate the city within its regional context, both in terms of space and economy.” Smaller cities also allow for greater public interface and participation, the cornerstones of sustainable urbanisation. The cities that made it to our list include Surat (Gujarat), Nagpur (Maharashtra), Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Vadodara (Gujarat), Thane (Maharashtra), Jaipur (Rajasthan), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Pimpri Chinchwad (Maharashtra), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Navi Mumbai (Maharashtra), Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh), Chandigarh (Chandigarh), Kalyan-Dombivli (Maharashtra), Faridabad (Haryana), Gurgaon (Haryana), Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Rajkot (Gujarat), Ludhiana (Punjab), and Nashik (Maharashtra). In fact, representatives of these cities – their municipal chiefs – will be awarded at the upcoming Sm@rt Cities Summit to be held in New Delhi in February and organised by FIRST Sm@rt Cities Council. Key takeaways from the report The world's fourth largest growing city, Surat to be the development model for India's 300 Tier-II cities; and why not, considering the Microsoft CityNext Initiative to constitute it as a smart city. While both Chandigarh and Navi Mumbai enjoy the status of being planned cities, Chandigarh takes the lead in being the first smoke-free Indian city. With the dedicated freight corridor passing through the city and the Jhevar airport being planned, industrial development is the call for Faridabad. Environment conscious Pimpri-Chinchwad is now developing 50 km BRTS road; the first route is expected to start in March. While smart planning and infrastructure is the focus for most of the 20 promising cities including Surat, Vadodara, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivili, Gurgaon and Nashik, the current big opportunity seems to be with port city Visakhapatnam, which is all powered up to set up about 96,000 solar street lights. From train to metro, Thane is on the go: While being the one-end destination for the first ever railway train that was started in 1853, metro seems to be on the go as MMRDA considers the extension of the proposed Wadala-Thane-Kasarvadavali metro corridor to Colaba passing through Mumbai Port Trust. India's 10th largest city Jaipur's Master Development Plan 2025 has 725 villages, 11 satellite towns, and four growth centres. Benefiting the walled city is the recent new Model Building Bylaws 2014 that is now part of the plan. Twin city Pune-Pimpri Chinchwad for improved distribution infrastructure in next three years. What's coming up: Power utility to set up 27 sub stations, 1,015 km underground cables, 841 transformers and 2,592 feeder pillars. Ninth largest industrial estate in Asia and India's industrial capital, Faridabad plans for water and slum-free living with projects worth Rs 7,000 crore (under JNNURM) and Rs 2,500 crore (submitted to government), respectively. Swachh Bharat mission is the focus for Kanpur and Bhopal; but Bhopal at present takes the lead in the hygiene league with the city's plan to construct 2,400 individual household toilets with twin leach pit under Mukhyamantri Sahri Swachhata Mission.