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Smart City Projects Getting Momentum in India

Source: Google

After months of the ambitious announcement of building 100 smart cities, now governments both at centre and state level are taking initiative to address following core issues-

  • On which criteria city should be considered to develop as a smart city and
  • Which criteria must be fulfilled by a city to be called itself a smart city.

On January 31, two-day ‘Consultation Workshop of States and Stakeholders on Smart Cities’, concluded in New Delhi. Principal Secretaries and municipal commissioners from about 25 states took part in this workshop along with other stakeholders.

After intense discussions some basic eligibility conditions were suggested at the end of workshop. Some of them are-

  • The need for a vision and city development strategy,
  • Progress under Swachh Bharat Mission,
  • Timely payment of salaries to municipal staff,
  • Information and grievance redressal mechanism and
  • e-newsletter.

For the further ranking of cities for final selection, the final recommendations of States were presented at the concluding session. Suggested parameters and respective weightage as follows:

                                             Parameter       Weightage 
    Self-financing ability              25%
    Institutional systems and capacities              25%
    Existing service levels and committed plan of action for 3 years              25%
    Past track record in implementing reforms              15%
    Quality of vision document              10%

This important consultations were organised by the Urban Development Ministry upon the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take the states on board before proceeding further with a the launch of the smart city initiative.

From the latest MoUs signed to develop smart city, it is clearly seen that there is a competition not only to become smart city but also take the crown of ‘India’s first smart city’.

Some recent MoU/ agreements / Initiatives:   

MoUs were signed between the US and the governments of Rajasthan, UP and Andhra Pradesh in late January to develop Ajmer, Allahabad and Visakhapatnam to develop as smart city. (Ajmer was chosen for its large Muslim population, Allahabad was picked for being a Hindu pilgrimage centre. Visakhapatnam was chosen as the state government was unable to reconstruct it after last year’s Hud Hud cyclone). It was already agreed to set up three joint task forces to for each city. Each task force will discuss city-specific features, project requirements and appropriate revenue models for enabling flow of investments before suggesting action plan to develop them as smart cities.

Cisco Systems- global IT networking major and the implementing company, will develop Visakhapatnam as a smart city and according to news it will be a first smart city. Cisco also claimed that its development model for Visakhapatnam would be adopted in the other smart cities — Allahabad and Ajmer. 

Recently, Spain has come forward to assist in transforming Delhi into a Smart City and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) will be signed shortly between the two countries.

Three areas in Delhi would be taken up as models for developing the capital as a smart city. Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has suggested-

  • Lake City in Mayur Vihar-II (80,000 sqm area).
  • A land patch in Karkardooma in eastern part of the city (2.8 lakh sqm area).
  • A greenfield project in outer Delhi (20,000 hectares).

First two are the brown field projects. (In construction and development, the term brownfield project means to develop the land, which was already constructed or developed at some point in the past. It is exactly opposite to Greenfield project).

Progress of Maharashtra:

In a bid to make early progress, Maharashtra has formed three high-level panels to finalise norms for its smart cities. These panels were set up after approval from the chief minister on January 29.

First panel will fix the norms for information technology related infrastructure and to be headed by information technology department in the state government. Currently centre stipulating a 100 mbps Internet backbone and 100% cell phone coverage.

Second panel will look after quality physical and social infrastructure like water supply, drainage, roads, schools, healthcare and commercial facilities. It will headed by Principle Secretary Manisha Mhaiskar (Urban Development- II).

Third panel will be headed by Principle Secretary Nitin Kareer (Urban Development- I) and it will define the norms for smart cities.

So far, the Shendra-Bidkin belt in Aurangabad (as a part of Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor) has been identified as one of the smart cities.

Maharashtra sets itself to compete with neighbour’s Gujarat International Financial Tech (GIFT) City in Ahmedabad. CM Devendra Fadnavis is planning to transform Mumbai into a global financial centre. An expert committee headed by former World Bank official and consultant Percy Mistry had submitted a blueprint for the same.

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