Smart city initiative necessitates a perfectly sculpted Governance structure


  • The Urban Planning and governance in recent time have been given new impetus by Government of India by introducing concept of smart city.

What is the concept of Smart City?

  • The concept of smart cities related to development of urban area that creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life for people.
  • The concept of smart cities resolves on developing the entire ecosystem of urban governance.
  • The aim is to achieve sustainable and inclusive development.

The core infrastructural element of smart cities includes

  • Adequate water supply,
  • Assured electricity supply,
  • Sanitation, including solid waste management
  • Efficient urban mobility and public transport
  • Affordable housing, especially for the poo
  • Robust IT connectivity and digitization
  • Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation
  • Sustainable environment
  • Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly
  • Health and education

Government initiatives:

  • The Smart Cities Mission is launched by the government.
    Smart Cities Mission is to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local area development and harnessing technology, especially technology that leads to Smart outcomes

What is Urban Governance?

  • Urban governance refers to how the government and its various stakeholders decide on management of urban areas.
  • It involves allocation of social and material resources and political power.
    Relevance of Urban Governance:
  • Plays a critical role in shaping the physical and social character of urban regions.
  • Influences the quantity and quality of local services and efficiency of delivery;
  • Determines the sharing of costs and distribution of resources among different groups; and
  • Affects residents’ ability to access local government and engage in decision-making, influencing local government accountability and responsiveness to citizen demands.

Challenges of Urban governance in India:

  • Multiplicity of boundaries is a deterrent for proper planning efforts and good governance.
  • Cities in India are governed by multiple organizations and authorities.
  • The different spatial entities of the city formed by non-coterminous boundaries deter effective planning and good governance.
  • Influenced by the political decisions and institutions.
  • Approximately 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas; this is expected to increase to 66% by 2050. The highest rates of urban growth are expected in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Managing urban growth is one of the key challenges of the twenty-first century especially in a country like India where countries where municipal capacity is weakest.
  • Minimum organizational set up for planning and implementation.
  • Prevalence of huge corruption.
  • Challenges of rapid urbanization and local environmental degradation
  • Unlocking the potential of cities requires investment in residential, commercial and industrial structures supported by effective land markets, appropriate regulation, good public services, adequate public finance and transparent and accountable city level political systems.
  • Structural composition of Urban Local Bodies:
    The governing authorities in a city include many organizations which are as follows:
    1. Urban Local Bodies (ULB)
  • It’s primary function is to deliver services.
  • Planning for socio-economic development
  • Regulation of development

2. Large cities also have development authorities
3. Urban development authorities or improvement trusts, responsible for planning and development that divide cities into various planning zones.
4. Line department, sector specific organizations which deals with services in their respective sectors like water supply agency, sewage disposal zones.
Examples of multiplicity of authorities of Delhi and Mumbai:

1. In Delhi urban planning for promoting and streamlining development has always been a national priority.
2. Till 2012, Delhi was governed by three municipal corporations-:
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi(MCD)
• The New Delhi Municipal Corporation
• The Delhi Cantonment Board
3. In 2012, the MCD was bifurcated into three municipal corporations:

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation.
The East Delhi Corporation

  • In 2012, two new districts were added that is South East and Shahdara , to form 11 districts.
  • The Master Plan for Delhi, 2021 which was formulated by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), identifies 15 planning zones.
  • The Delhi Jal Board, responsible for water and sewage management has delineated 11 zones.
  • The Delhi Traffic Police has divided the NCT into 11 districts, which are sub divided into 53 traffic circles.


  • The planned development of Mumbai was deterred by a multiplicity of authorities like Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, The City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd and the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority

Solutions to handle problems of urban governance:

  • The existing maze of boundaries needs to be revamped for more coherent and integrated planning and governance.
  • Single planning authority should be there for proper implementation.
  • It is advisable to look at the urban development foreign and learn from their best practices. Singapore, with its planning boundaries and smart urban development’s is a good example to learn.
  • The urban planning boundary of Singapore was first delineated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in the 1991 Concept Plan.
  • It comprised 55 planning areas organised into five planning regions.
    The Statistics Development of Singapore published the 2000 census based on these planning areas boundaries earlier, electoral boundaries were used.
  • The unified boundaries of the various forces in planning and coordinated efforts as have contributed to the planned and smart urban development of Singapore can also be implementing in India.
  • Electoral reforms for urban local bodies are the need of present day.
  1. Autonomy of financial resources.
  2. Fairness in enforcing laws.
  3. Better local participation and involvement through public meeting,
  4. Participatory planning and budgeting.
  5. Efficient Urban Management by taking account of all interest in promoting efficiency and better services and efficient investment in infrastructure.
  6. Accountability and transparency in functioning.
  7. Easy access to urban governance by all individuals and organizations.
  8. Challenges of rapid urbanization and local environmental degradation need to be addressed.


  • Urban governance is an inclusive process in achieving a quality of life for all the residents of cities, especially the disadvantaged, marginalized and poor sections of society so there is need to pay greater attention to this issue for achieving good governance.
  • This can be also be achieved by involvement of various stakeholders like NGO’s propose a change in the structural as well as functions of the administrative bodies.
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