Smart City Programme

There is no universally accepted definition of a smart city and it may mean different things to different people. The concept of smart city can vary from people to people, city to city and country to country. The smart city mission of Government of India focuses on promoting the cities that provide core institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure; give their dwellers a decent quality of life; sustainable environment and smart solutions.

Core Elements of Smart City Mission

The focus of the smart city mission is on sustainable and inclusive development and set examples which can be replicated in other parts of the city and other cities of the country. There are 10 core infrastructure elements viz. adequate water supply; assured electricity supply; sanitation, including solid waste management; efficient urban mobility and public transport; affordable housing, especially for the poor; robust IT connectivity and digitalization; good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation; sustainable environment; safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly; and health and education.

Smart Solutions

The smart solutions under the mission refer to use of technology in such a way that it leads to Smart outcomes. Some examples of smart solutions are as follows:

  • E-Governance and Citizen Services: This includes public information and grievance Redressal; Electronic Service Delivery; Citizen Engagement; Citizens as City’s eyes and ears; Video crime monitoring etc.
  • Waste Management: This includes waste to energy and fuel; waste to compost; treatment of waste water; Recycling.
  • Water Management: Smart meters and management; Leakage identification, prevention and maintenance; water quality monitoring.
  • Energy Management: Smart meters and management; renewable source of energy; green buildings.
  • Urban mobility: Smart parking; Intelligent traffic management; integrated multi-modal transport;
  • Others: Telemedicine; Incubation / trade facilitation centres; skill development centres.

Selection and spatial distribution of Smart Cities

Government plans to develop 100 Smart Cities distributed among the States and UTs on the basis of an equitable criteria. The formula gives equal weightage (50:50) to urban population of the State/UT and the number of statutory towns in the State/UT.

The distribution of Smart Cities will be reviewed after two years of the implementation of the Mission. Based on an assessment of the performance of States/ULBs in the Challenge, some re-allocation of the remaining potential Smart Cities among States may be required to be done by Ministry of Urban Development.

Special Purpose Vehicle

The implementation of the Mission at the City level will be done by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created for the purpose. The SPV will plan, appraise, approve, release funds, implement, manage, operate, monitor and evaluate the Smart City development projects. Each Smart City will have a SPV which will be headed by a full time CEO and have nominees of Central Government, State Government and ULB on its Board.

Coverage and Duration

The Mission will cover 100 cities and its duration is five years (2015-16 to 2019-20). The Mission may be continued thereafter in the light of an evaluation to be done by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and incorporating the learnings into the Mission.

Strategy

The strategic components of Area-based development in the Smart Cities Mission include City improvement (retrofitting); City renewal (redevelopment); City extension (Greenfield development) and pan-city initiatives with smart solutions.

Smart City Mission promotes competitive co-operative federalism. It is the first time Ministry of Urban Development has adopted a challenging competitive method in order to select for funding and using a strategy of area-based development.

The States and ULBs will play a key supportive role in the development of Smart Cities. Smart leadership and vision at this level and ability to act decisively will be important factors determining the success of the Mission.

Challenges

Following are the key challenges for Smart City Mission:

  • For the mission to be successful, the states and ULBs need active participation and support.
  • There are concepts of retrofitting, redevelopment and greenfield development in the smart city mission. However, the policy makers, implementers and other stakeholders at different levels will require capacity assistance.
  • There is the need of major investments in time and resources during the planning phase prior to participation in the Challenge.
  • Also the Smart Cities Mission requires smart people who actively participate in governance and reforms. Citizen involvement is much more than a ceremonial participation in governance.

Key points in support

  • It primly focuses on transportation, e-governance to mitigate the current misery.
  • Water, energy and waste management systems, the basic infrastructural necessities will be dealt with in addition to transportation.
  • This project seems to be overlooking giving impetus to making villages also smart on the lines of the concept called Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA).
  • From an environmental point of view, the ‘Smart City’ programme will help reduce pollution levels in cities.
  • When thousands are migrating to the cities in search of work in the wake of a deepening agrarian crisis, the move is bound to halt this tide.
  • There will now be more avenues to look for rather than flock to the metropolitan cities; congestion and pollution can be reduced.
  • In these cities, adequate public spaces, pedestrian plazas, traffic-free roads, electric vehicles are on prime agenda.
  • There must be pedestrian plazas that are traffic-free and where free electric operated vehicles are in abundance.
  • This project will work with local residents, associations and NGOs in urban centres for development activities while setting up “smart” cities and rejuvenating existing urban centres.

Key points for criticism

  • To make 100 cities across India is ill-conceived especially when a majority of the population lives in villages.
  • The initial move of government must be development of Smart Village not smart cities.
  • The outlay of Rs. One lakh crore for this project should instead be diverted to make villages more liveable.
  • Development of Smart Cities in turn will lead to greater rural-to urban migration.
  • Instead, the government needs to rejuvenate rural life and focus more on solving grass-root problems.
  • The vulnerable section will be far from active inclusion in this project.
  • This project has a direct connection with the new land acquisition ordinance which aims to please the corporate audience.
  • To make urban living more liveable, more inclusive and a driver of economic growth, government has to plan by taking a holistic view of living in harmony with nature.
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