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100 Smart Cities Mission: The Future Of India

Posted by
on December 03, 2015 at 06:53 PM

Let’s look at the future of India! We are presently in a prominent position on the international radar – and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 100 Smart Cities Mission is particularly drawing attention. But what is a ‘smart city’ anyway? A smart city, as per the mandate, is a well-planned, sustainable and digitally empowered city aimed to improve the quality of life of the average citizen, with a wise management of natural resources. The 100 Smart Cities Mission was thus launched – the first-ever Government initiative shaped by public participation.

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The Prime Minister’s vision for a better India mainly rests on a plan to improve the average standard of living and to create a “smarter” India. Modi launched the Rs. 98,000 Crore Smart City and AMRUT projects on June 25, in an attempt at transforming the urban infrastructure burdened with ever-growing population. Modi announced the implementation guidelines for the two big-ticket urban renewal projects - Smart City and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) - at Vigyan Bhawan. The main objective of the twin projects is to address the infrastructure gap in urban areas so that cities become more liveable, besides enhancing the business and investment climate for the benefit of the economically backward classes. The names of the 100 cities which will be designed as the smart cities have already been finalized. And global consulting firms are also been engaged to prepare Smart City plans.

Modi’s vision for advanced cities that benefit from the latest technology has begun to take shape with the Ministry of Urban Development identifying almost all the cities to be developed/remodeled under the 100 Smart Cities Mission. The Government has set 2019 as the deadline to deliver the first three smart cities, all of which will be built as part of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). 

The DMIC is a project the government aims to build as a ‘global manufacturing and trading hub’. The first smart three smart cities are Dholera, Shendra-Bidkin and Global City. Overall, seven smart cities will be set up between Delhi and Mumbai under the DMIC project, which is being built in partnership with the government of Japan. There are at least three more industrial corridors along which new cities are being built: Amritsar- Kolkata, Bangalore-Chennai and Chennai-Visakhapatnam. Besides, states have been asked to identify cities along the Amritsar-Kolkata corridor.

The best thing, however, is that these urban development schemes were not prepared by the Government, as is the usual norm. It was a far more inclusive and participatory process - perhaps the biggest consultation exercise ever taken by the Union Government, involving all stakeholders and examining global best practices.

People, therefore, were invited to contribute to the selection of the cities that would come under the Smart City Plan ‘list’. They were also encouraged to participate in the planning of the new Smart Cities – so as to know their views of the existing systems and incorporate their aspirations into the new plans. 

In the race of the cities of India to be nominated among the first 100 smart cities, smaller towns got more votes than the big cities. The Government has also shared a rough plan about the project, and said that the 100 smart cities mission to be completed in three phases. In the first phase which will be starting this year will be aimed to construct 20 smart cities while the remaining two phases will be constructing 40 smart cities each in and may be started after a gap of 2 years each.

The major goal of Smart Cities Mission is to improve the management of the urban diaspora. Smart City uses digital technology and information and communication technologies (ICT) to better quality and performance this engage more effectively and actively with its citizens.  The plan includes government services, transport, traffic management, energy, health care, water and waste. It is heartening to note that instead of only dreaming big, smaller steps at improving infrastructure are being taken as well. The makeovers of the railway coaches is one such manifestation of the #MakeInIndia campaign; while the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan too is being implemented seriously.

The first of India’s Smart Cities to be developed from scratch - GIFT – Gujarat International Financial Tec- City at Dholera (about 18 kms from Ahmedabad International Airport), is shaping up as a highly futuristic one, while using energy-efficient technologies. The 886 acre wonderfully planned Smart City stands on the threshold of heralding a new era in the history of India.

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