SMART CITY MISSION @ 100
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
In news: Silvasa from Dadar and Nagar Haveli was declared as the winner of the National Smart City Competition along with eight cities. These cities will have approx. 406 projects with investments of Rs. 12824 crore rupees. Majority would go to Area Based Developments and other in pan city initiatives which would be impacting 3.3 lakh persons living in these areas. Now, total 99 cities have been selected under Smart cities mission.
Why government went with smart cities mission?
In history of urban development, urbanization has happened by default. In 1979- the first big scheme was Integrated Development of Small And Medium Towns, then the Mega City Mission and then JNNURM.
JNNURM was primarily the infrastructure mission in which the small mega cities were combined and then reformed. It was here found that city is like an ecosystem and various things cannot be separated. Roads cant be separated from houses, building cannot be separated from roads and sanitation is part of buildings. This is where the integration concept and smart city concept came.
What is smart city?
It is looked at it as three concentrated layers
- Core- provision of basic services and infrastructure- better roads, water supply, sewerage- the things that matter to people the most.
- Digital technology- it has the possibility of improving both the services and infrastructure.
- Area based development- lightened streets, parks, clean air.
Key areas to have fulfill Smart city mission
- Socio economic aspect
- Physical components
- Institutional mechanism
If these three objectives are woven together and in each other, it is easy to diversify and address number of problems like mobility, development of physical infrastructure, ICT, health, and economy. The main aim of the smart city mission is to ensure better quality of life.
Smart city framework
Smart cities mission is a continuous process. And it has to be a trigger for better urban development and planning in the years to come. The most important mission that smart city came out was to encourage states to come up with similar mission. If the cities have to transform themselves and become engines of economic growth, the central government can provide a meta framework and help the state government to execute it. The state governments can ultimately empower the cities to become local governments.
Unlike earlier missions, there is feet light touch framework. The cities should themselves develop their plans in consultations with citizens. Maharashtra and MP are developing their own smart city missions. There is also undertaking of National Urbanistion Policy Framework within which the cities and states will develop their own instruments and their policies. ICT can be put to maximum use so that people can get to know the information for their best possible use. The people feel smarter by virtue of getting immediate information. And helps in decision making.
Formal acknowledgement of urban developpment
As a country, there has been under investment in cities and the urbanization process in terms of policy focus, energy levels and funding. This has increased the energy levels of city managers to make their city a smart one. It has unleashed creativity, has brought interesting aspects like SPVs, and ecosystem of players to rally around municipalities and solve the challenges there.
Change yet to be seen
Out of 46800 crores approved, only 500 crores have been used and only 83 projects have been initiated out of 964 projects. Thus, capacity building has to be done in faster manner as most of the top decision making powers are too dependent on foreign consultants for city management.
Though smart city project may not have optimistic results to fast, there are projects proposed worth 2 lakh crores. Out of it, 2500 crores are paid for project completion. 20000 crores in tenders and 15000 crores on ground. These are not run of the mill projects or business as usual.
Now, more time is going in planning and thinking before than doing it and later start thinking and regretting.
The competition of selection process is going for two years now. Allocation of public funds on large scale is made on competition and not norms. Cities like dharamsala are beating cities like Bombay. Thus, the changes in way urban planning for development is taking place is seeing a change in approach.
Challenges to conquer
- Area based development is a way to rejuvenate. It could have huge impact on economy and job creation. The cities should be started to look upon as centres of job creation and economic growth. Factors like productivity, investments is needed which is still lacking from urban areas.
- It holds out model for how to fix one area of city and then do SOP in other neighborhoods.
- It is impossible and unnecessary to do area based development in every part of the city.
- There could be side stepping of root cause challenges. The state government need support from central government in this areas. The extremely big problem of special development planning in cities in terms of policy framework etc. The current UDPFI may not measure upto that standard.
- Making the cities financially self sufficient and financially accountable is the sustainable way forward.
- Municipal staffing- The city counsels are toothless and largely managed by state governments. There is need for institutionalized citizen participation like area sabhas to encourage citizen participation in city development.
These are tough issues which need to be concurrently addressed along with missions like smart cities mission which are largely project focused. Else there will be same set of challenges faced every 10-15 years.
There is no compromise on the smart city mission and its components. The cities are not given solutions for their problem. Instead, areas are identified various options are given and the cities have to identify the best and the most suitable option for them.
There are 20 smart city control command centres under implementations. These command centres have centralized management system which takes into account data from multiple factors concerning the city- like water management, energy management, e-governance services, ICT enabled solid waste management etc. Today, all centres have ITMS (Intelligent Transit Management System) as a city cannot thrive without a digital transport solution. There is no compromise in selection and no universal general prescription to a city.
In last three years, lot of money and energy has come in urban sector and across the centre, states and cities which is a huge positive step. However, along with focus on individual projects, schemes and missions there is a sharp need to build the municipalities. Intuitional reforms should be strong and fundamental to democracy.
Connecting the dots:
- Smart City Mission is a way forward for a sustainable economic growth. Critically analyse.