Presently a little more than 30% of India’s population lives in cities. And contribute to 63% of the economic activity of the nation. It is expected that by 2030 almost half of India’s population will have moved to cities in search of better opportunities. The Modi government’s ambitious Smart city mission is envisaged to meet this pressing challenge of providing a better standard of living for its citizens now and in the future. Smart cities are seen as a vital element in propelling India's economic and social growth.
As per the Mission Statement & Guidelines laid out by the Ministry of Urban Development, “the objective is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and the idea is to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act like a light house to other aspiring cities”.
The core infrastructure elements in a Smart City,as laid out in the Mission Statement & Guidelines,would include:
1)Adequate water supply,
2)Assured electricity supply,
3)Sanitation, including solid waste management,
4)Efficient urban mobility and public transport,
5)Affordable housing, especially for the poor,
6)Robust IT connectivity and digitalization,
7)Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation,
8)Sustainable environment, safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly, and
9)Health and education.
Rs 48,000 crore has been earmarked by the Union cabinet for the development of the 100 shortlisted smart cities spread across the length and breadth of the country. An equal amountwill have to be put up by the state and urban local bodies.
One of the challenges for the successful implementation of the scheme, will be to get support from these bodies in terms and funding and administrative help as some states have shown some scepticism. The involvement of multiple parties like the centre, states, local bodies and private entities, make the task even more challenging.
Good planning will be critical to the success of the mission. The smart cities need to be planned so that vertical expansion can be factored in to cope with the burden that migration impose on a city resources.
But if the mission is implemented it will be great catalyst for growth and socio-economic development. Proxy sectors of the housing space, like cement, paints, electricals, waste management, housing finance institutions, etc., will get a tremendous boost. The mission is especially desirable due to itsthrust on affordable housing which will enable the EWS section of society to realize their dream of owning a homes worth considering too.