Press Esc to close
Saturday 10 December 2016
News updated at 2:38 AM IST
Weather
Max: 28.9°C
Min : 18.4°C
In Bengaluru
Partially cloudy

Smart Cities Mission takes forward step

By Amit Bhatt, Feb 1, 2016,
In the last 15 years of my professional career, many concepts around urban development have come and gone, but none have evoked such an excitement as the Narendra Modi government’s proposed 100 Smart Cities initiative, that has a price tag of Rs 1,00,000 crore over the next five years. This excitement isn’t only restricted to India. Experts are discussing it globally, and many have sharp and contrasting views on the subject.

Global experts, like Catherine Morency, Professor at ÉcolePolytechnique de Montréal, have noted that “smart cities are not sustainable per se. There is a need to advance social, environmental and economic asp-ects as part of the smart city concept and to provide citizens with the tools to make this happen”.

Gil Peñalosa, former Commi-ssioner of Bogota and a thought leader on urban sustainability, further reinforces this point, saying that smart cities aren’t just about technical solutions – they’re about serving people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the launch of the Smart Cities programme, defined a smart city as one that provides for the needs of its citizens. This is a simple yet revolutionary way of looking at smart cities. On the one hand, it looks at the obvious issues around infrastructure of cities, and on the other, it links the issues around governance, service delivery, citizens’ aspirations, and quality of life.

Smart Cities isn’t the first initiative aimed at addressing urban issues. The UPA-I regime launched the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Programme (JNNURM), which was the first major programme of its kind, where over $20 billion was earmarked for urban infrastructure improvements and basic services to the urban poor in 65 mission cities over the course of seven years.

The JNNURM received mixed reviews from experts as it was felt that the programme didn’t match up to the desired level. There were various issues, such as the quality of project planning, funding processes, lack of capacity, and others. While the programme left a lot to be desired, what it did well was bring cities to the forefront of planning and development through the Central government, for urban development is usually a state subject.

The Smart Cities programme is, in many ways, a completely different approach compared to other schemes of the Centre. All other programmes, including the JNNURM, were based on the principal of allocation, wherein states were allocated money as per proposals submitted within stipulated guidelines.

The Smart Cities program-me, on the other hand, is based on the principal of competition. Cities are competing against each other to access funds and, to some extent, for prestige, given the hype around the scheme.

When Minister of Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu announced the first list of 20 shortlisted cities on January 28, it marked the end of the first phase of competition, wherein 20 out of the 97 cities that submitted proposals were selected as the winners.

List of surprises
While Bengaluru, Gurgaon and Patna were surprise omissions from the Smart Cities race, as the respective state governmen-ts deemed other cities more competitive for the national challenge, the 20 shortlisted cities also have quite a few surprises.

The biggest surprise was the fact that Bhubaneswar topped the challenge with 78.83 per cent marks followed by Pune (77.42 per cent) and Jaipur (73.83 per cent). In fact, the top 20 cities list was dominated by tier II and III cities, with only Delhi and Chennai representing the metros of the country.

Lesser known names like Davanagere, Kakinada, Belagavi outweighed many big cities like Howrah and Hyderabad, who failed to make it to the top 20. Ludhiana is the only city from the northern and eastern belt of the country. Guwahati is the only city from the north-eastern states, suggesting it was much better prepared than its peers.

As part of the competition, the cities had to submit area and city-wide development projects aimed at improving the quality of life for citizens by engaging with them and addressing their needs, and building capacity amongst city officials by moving towards e-governance and the use of technology.

Cities were asked to develop holistic city development plans with a vision for zero emissions and zero waste, and funding would be provided to pursue strategic infrastructure projects. Priority sectors were identified, with Rs 100 crore of financial assistance from the Centre for five years and a matching contribution from state governments. Cities were asked to submit proposals that would not merely change, but transform them. The Rs 100 crore should be seen as initial capital that can be leveraged for this transformation.

India is currently one-third urbanised. Global trends have shown that urbanisation stabilises at 75-80 per cent mark. This means two-third of urban India is yet to be built, which gives us the opportunity to get it right.

Choosing the right implementation framework for smart cities is critical. Creating the framework from cities to compete is a great idea but the real success would depend of the implementation. Nevertheless, a good start has been made.

(The writer is Director Transport, WRI – EMBARQ India)

 

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
The super yacht Indian Empress, owned by fugitive Indian businessman Vijay Mallya...

The super yacht Indian Empress, owned by fugitive Indian businessman Vijay Mallya...

Students of Metagalli JSS Highschool forms India map during Bharath Matha Pooja programme...

Students of Metagalli JSS Highschool forms India map during Bharath Matha Pooja programme...

Artistes perform during the International Gita Mahotsav-2016 in Kurukshetra...

Artistes perform during the International Gita Mahotsav-2016 in Kurukshetra...

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama at the inauguration of a four-day seminar on legacy...

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama at the inauguration of a four-day seminar on legacy...

Two rats gather in a shrub at the Saint Jacques Tower park, in the center of Paris...

Two rats gather in a shrub at the Saint Jacques Tower park, in the center of Paris...

A wrecked bus after meeting with an accident on the Delhi-Agra National highway due to fog...

A wrecked bus after meeting with an accident on the Delhi-Agra National highway due to fog...

Smoke rises from the house where two Lashkir-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were hiding...

Smoke rises from the house where two Lashkir-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were hiding...

Huge cash seized by the Income Tax department after it conducted searches in Chennai...

Huge cash seized by the Income Tax department after it conducted searches in Chennai...

The carcass of elephant Sidda being shifted in a lorry for the burial at the Manchanbele dam...

The carcass of elephant Sidda being shifted in a lorry for the burial at the Manchanbele dam...

A heater is placed in the enclosure of a tiger to keep big cat warm during cold day at Sanjay...

A heater is placed in the enclosure of a tiger to keep big cat warm during cold day at Sanjay...

Like us on Facebook

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523