What is a ‘smart city’?
- There is no universally accepted definition of a smart city.
- The conceptualisation of Smart City varies from city to city and country to country, depending on the level of development, willingness to change and reform, resources and aspirations of the city residents.
- Urban planners ideally aim at developing the entire urban eco-system, which is represented by the four pillars of comprehensive development –institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure.
Smart Cities Mission of the Government of India
- It is an urban renewal and retrofitting program by the Government of India with a mission to develop 100 cities all over the country making them citizen friendly and sustainable.
- The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities.
Questions raised on the mission
- Smart city is a misnomer, because only small pockets of a city are to be developed.
- Only 79 projects with total budget of Rs. 841 crore have been completed.
- Another 204 projects, with a budget of Rs.7963 crore, are under implementation.
- Projects worth Rs 1.14 lakh crore are still on the drawing board stage.
- To accelerate the work, the ministry has now decided to award World Bank and Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) funds on competitive basis.
Focus on ‘impactful’ Smart City projects
- The Union ministry has asked the states to push up implementation of ‘impactful’ projects which will make the mission more visible.
- The Centre and State governments together have identified 261 projects worth Rs 32600 crore under this category.
- These projects are expected to have visible and transformative impact.
- However, there is no clear definition of what ‘impactful’ means.
- These projects will be commenced by November 2017 so that they are completed in time for the next Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
- The list of ‘impactful’ projects varies from Museum of Urban History in Bhubaneshwar, to rejuvenation of water bodies in Coimbatore, to 5 km-long heritage walk in Warangal etc.