Cabinet cleared the Smart Cities Mission under which 100 smart cities would be built.
Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for 500 cities with outlays of Rs 48,000 crore and Rs 50,000 crore, respectively.
AMRUT is the new avatar of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). But in a significant departure from the earlier mission, the Centre will not appraise individual projects.
The aim of the mission is to more efficiently utilize available assets, resources and infrastructure to enhance quality of urban life and provide a clean and sustainable environment.
India is urbanizing rapidly and our cities need to keep pace with that process. For that, a co-operative model of governance between the centre, states, and city-level governments is necessary.
It is expected that by 2050, 70% of the population will be living in cities. It is said that, this would mean that 500 new cities will be needed to accommodate this joining population in urban areas.
Smart cities will be chosen in a competitive manner, based on pre-announced parameters. States would encourage their cities to apply on these parameters, and hopefully, a transparent process would select the first year’s smart cities.
Unlike earlier fears that smart cities would essentially lead to only tech spends and not citizen-friendliness, the ‘focus will be on core infrastructure services like: Adequate and clean Water supply, Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, Efficient Urban Mobility and Public Transportation, Affordable housing for the poor, power supply, robust IT connectivity, Governance, especially e-governance and citizen participation, safety and security of citizens, health and education and sustainable urban environment.’
Any improvement in these would make Indian cities much more livable.
One main often ignored truth is that most Indian urban population growth would happen in and around existing cities and their peripheries, not in new cities far removed from traditional urban populations.
The much-hyped DMIC cities will take at least 20 years to develop to even a million-plus population. Hence the importance of urban renewal is existing cities.
AMRUT implementation would expect urban reforms, such as ‘e-governance, constitution of professional municipal cadre, devolving funds and functions to urban local bodies, review of building bye-laws, improvement in assessment and collection of municipal taxes, credit rating of urban local bodies, energy and water audit and citizen-centric urban planning.’ All this would improve the quality of urban governance, leading to better citizen satisfaction.
Discuss the concept of smart cities. How it would reshape the urban Landscape of a country like India?
What are the possible problems and stumbling blocks that may be encountered in creating these smart cities?