Smart Cities Mission was launched by the Government of India in June 2015. It is an urban renewal and retrofitting program, and the mission proposes to develop 100 cities rendering them citizen friendly as well as sustainable.
The cities selected are midsized and will be developed by modernising the existing amenities. They will serve as the satellite towns of bigger cities.
The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities. An amount of ₹980 billion has been approved and allotted for the purpose of development and pan-city solutions of 100 smart cities and rejuvenation of 500 others by the Indian Cabinet.
Once the mission was launched, the state governments nominated potential cities and the Centre shortlisted 100 out of those. The cities were selected on the basis of having fulfilled the following criteria:
- Implementation of e-governance and online grievance redressal mechanism;
- Putting all government expenditure online for public;
- At least 5% increase in latrine coverage under the 2011 census as per the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan;
- Track record of paying salaries to employees;
- Track record of urban reforms and citizen participation being introduced.
What is a Smart City?
As per the vision of PM Narendra Modi a smart city will include the following:
- It will be equipped with the required infrastructure for a better quality of life as well as a clean and a sustainable environment through the application of smart solutions.
- Assured water and electricity supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, robust IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation, safety and security of citizens.
- Public information, grievance redressal, electronic service delivery, citizens’ engagement, waste to energy and fuel, waste to compost, 100% treatment of waste water, smart meters and management, monitoring water quality, renewable source of energy, efficient energy and green building, smart parking, intelligent traffic management system.
The Progress So Far
The Smart City Mission has seen many global companies make a beeline for India in search of business opportunities.
- Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei are already paving the way to capture business opportunities in infrastructural pursuits. Huawei will also target areas like public safety.
- Vendors including Ericsson, Nokia and Cisco are also targeting smart city projects in India.
Some of the selected cities are already making progress towards the execution of the smart city initiatives.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the flagship Smart City Mission into implementation mode with launch of 14 projects of Pune’s Smart City Plan, on 25th June, 2016 by releasing the Mission Guidelines.
- The Jaipur Smart Mission Limited has selected Spanish firm Epista as project management consultant for the execution and implementation of its smart city project. The Spanish company will help the local authorities in planning, designing, developing and monitoring smart city projects over the next 2 years.
- ZTEsoft, a subsidiary of ZTE has signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Gujarat to collaborate on the development of smart city project.
- Ericsson will be installing 15,000 smart meters in Assam for a public sector power company.
- Cisco is already working in smart city projects in nearly 13 cities.
- Germany has also taken the initiative and offered support for developing high-speed railway, smart cities and renewable energy.
- Preparations to develop Ujjain into a smart city is well underway with the Central Government nominating BSNL to provide free wi-fi in the entire city. Smart poles will be installed in many areas of the city.
- Bhubaneswar Smart City Ltd (BSL) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) have signed an MOU to take the New Urban Agenda forward.
- Cisco, Philips, and Microsoft are looking to invest in the Faridabad smart city projects.
- Patna, the capital of Bihar, is all set to become a smart city in the near future. A plan is being developed by the Department of City Development co-housing development consultant agency.
- Dharamshala saw hiccups in the progress as there was an interruption due to a legal battle with Shimla to enrol in Smart City. There is also a confusion regarding the finance because while Himachal Pradesh government has directed to spend ten percent of its share to the Smart City project, the Central Government has directed it to spend 50 percent.
Smart City Mission is not a fancy concept. In fact, the mission is meant to improve the quality of living of all the citizens, including the poor, by ensuring availability of all basic services in a comprehensive manner.
Digital technology is not aimed at availability of easy access to the social media by the Gen Y but at improving the quality of governance and public services.
Urbanisation will only help towards mitigating poverty and empowering the poor. Smart City Mission is indeed an opportunity for India to step into the future to ensure the overall development of the nation.