Prime Minister Narendra Modi has instructed the Urban Development Ministry, which is entrusted with the responsibility of carrying out the Smart Cities project, to set proper and well-defined parameters for implementing the plan. He has told the officials that they should identify cities, which are centres of economic activity. Furthermore, he has emphasized that the authorities have to find out ways in which wasted resources can be used in order to generate wealth for the country. Modi has stated that factors such as basic infrastructure, services dedicated to the citizens and quality of life have to be given great importance if the project is to become successful.
Modi recently had a meeting with the top officials associated with the project. He told them that the project needs to focus on ways to better the standards of urban governance available in India. He felt that this would only make governance stronger across the country. It is expected that by 2030 40 per cent of India’s population will live in the urban areas. However, 80 per cent of that area has not been built yet.
Creating cities like Chicago or New York in a short time is always easier said than done. This could be one reason Modi has also asked the officers to organise a workshop where all the State and national level urban development authorities could be called. He has further stated that greater emphasis be put on reforming laws on urban development in India.
Regarding wastage of resources, Modi has asked that areas such as waste water treatment and management of solid waste have to be given more importance. While visualising the project, the Government officers have also been asked to keep in mind people who are dependent on the urban sector but do not necessarily live there. The Urban Development Ministry has asked the States to make sure that cities chosen for the project are in accordance with the basic criterion.
The cities should be economically feasible and they should have the requisite citizen and e-governance services, or at least the potential to develop them over time. They should also be energy efficient and have substantial scope for urban mobility. The Ministry had also asked the States to come up with a list by January 1, 2015. The Central Government will give special importance to cities that are expected to contribute 54 per cent of India’s incremental GDP till the year 2025. It will also focus on coastal and hilly regions, hubs of religion and tourism as well as cities which can be classed as mid-sized.
Delhi to have the first smart city
The Urban Development Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, has stated that Delhi will be the first smart city of India. It is also expected to be developed into a city at par with the very best around the world and will be equipped with all the latest facilities. The Urban Development Minister has further stated that Delhi will be brought up to the same level as cities such as San Francisco and London. He has also revealed that the Government wishes to have entertainment venues such as the Universal Studios and Disneyland in Delhi.
Naidu has stated that in his opinion Delhi is the heart of the country and informed one. He said that Barcelona has pledged technological assistance for developing Delhi as a smart city. Recently the Urban Development Minister had studied how the Spanish city has preserved its heritage while making room for newer buildings. This is something Naidu wants to replicate in Delhi as well. This makes a lot of sense when one considers that India is blessed when it comes to architectural heritage. Such a lineage needs to be held on to instead of being discarded at the altar of modernity and development.
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