A brief update on the Smart Cities Mission
A popular definition, by the research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, views smart cities as urban centres using intelligent solutions to achieve at least five of the following - smart energy, smart healthcare, smart building, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, smart technology, smart governance and smart education, and smart citizens. The world is expected to have 26 smart cities by 2025, including Singapore, Tokyo and Beijing. No Indian city makes the cut.
With urban areas expected to house 40 per cent of India's population by 2030, the task of the Smart Cities Mission (SCM), aiming to modernize mid-size cities to facilitate urbanization, becomes significant. It will cover 100 cities (10 are yet to be finalized), with a budget of almost Rs 2,00,000 crore for the 90 finalized cities spread over 2017-2022. Some of the shortlisted cities are Raipur, Indore, Dharamsala and Surat. The SCM may be continued, subject to evaluation by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
The centre will provide Rs 500 crore to each smart city over five years with the states expected to make matching contributions. To ensure the mission's success, the cities will converge with already existing government schemes.
These smart cities, through information technology, urban planning, public-private partnerships and policy changes, aim at developing a clean, sustainable environment; and enabling economic efficiency and a decent quality of life for its inhabitants. Economic efficiency and operational ease being the focus, improvements in administrative systems (like housing, transport, energy, water and waste management) are central to the idea.
The SCM promises inclusive and organic growth, with citizens as its primary focus. The promised infrastructural overhaul also emphasizes robust IT connectivity and digitization, good governance with citizen participation, safety for all, particularly women, children and the elderly, affordable housing and quality health and education.