Kathmandu, July 14 The budget that was unveiled on Tuesday for the coming fiscal 2015-16 has envisaged of developing modern, green and information technology-friendly smart cities. It has plans to develop 20 modern cities besides three existing towns each as green cities and smart cities. Amid increasing use of information and communication technology (ICT), this is the first time that the government has set a national agenda to develop smart cities. As per the budget, a master plan will be prepared to develop Kathmandu, Lumbini and Nijgadh as smart cities. Generally, a city is known as ‘smart’, if it uses ICT to enhance the quality and performance of urban services, reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens. The government also has a plan to expand broadband internet service to municipality level and make them ICT based utilising resources including even from the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF). However, as per the original motif of the fund, its resources should be utilised for extension of telecom services in rural un-served areas. At present, the size of RTDF is at around Rs 10 billion. To develop such smart towns in other parts of the country, the government has announced work would start on laying the optical fibre along the Mid-Hill Highway with the resources available in the RTDF from next fiscal year. A target has been set to complete the fibre extension programme within two years. To maintain greenery in cities, a campaign will be initiated from next fiscal year. Under this plan, Pokhara, Dharan and Lalitpur sub-metropolitan cities will be developed as green cities. “A long-term action plan for 20 years will be prepared in the next fiscal year to start building modern towns as a campaign,” states the budget speech. For the last five years, the government has been preparing to implement a project with a target to develop 10 modern towns along the Mid-Hill Highway. This project has been provided Rs 440 million for next fiscal year to develop basic urban infrastructure. Patan (Baitadi), Sanfebagar (Achham), Rakam Karnali (Dailekh), Chaurjahari (Rukum), Burtibang (Baglung), Dumre Bhansar (Tanahun), Baireni Galchhi (Dhading), Khurkot (Sindhuli), Basantapur (Taplejung) and Phidim (Panchthar) are locations that have already been selected by the government to establish them as modern towns. READ ALSO: Private and public buildings to be monitored However, the plan to develop the aforementioned 10 towns that was declared five years ago through the budget for fiscal year 2010-11, is yet to come up with a master plan. Even though there has been slow progress in the project, the government through the budget has announced of developing additional 10 townships. The budget mentions of conducting a feasibility study to develop 10 modern cities equipped with modern facilities in the Tarai. Similarly, required urban infrastructure will be extended in Biratnagar, Janakpur, Birgunj, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Dhangadi. To manage the uncontrolled urban development taking place, there is also a plan to develop residential colonies and settlements only on land that has been allocated for residential infrastructure development purpose. To realise this goal, the government plans to strictly enforce implementation of land use policy. “The provision to take prior approval from local bodies will be made mandatory while plotting land for residential purpose by either individuals or companies,” the budget speech reads.