Smart City Mission is Narendra Modi government’s one of the biggest and most ambitious projects. The government has already shortlisted the names of 100 cities to be converted ‘Smart’, it has sanctioned Rs 9,940 crore on the project so far. Though it is true that nothing specific appears visible on-ground, the government claims to have achieved a substantial development in this direction. Team RealtyMyths talked to Mr. Pratap Padode, Founder, First Construction Council to know his views on the developments. Here’s what he said about the government’s Smart City Mission.
- The government has announced 100 smart cities, but we only hear about a few of them like Indore and Raipur. What is going on with other smart cities?
– There are lots of projects happening around several cities, but some cities are doing much better than other. More than Rs 10,000 crore worth of projects are under execution. Around 20 plus cities are doing much better than what you hear. We see what the media chose to show
2. So you are trying to say that in bits and pieces everywhere some part of the work is going on and the authorities are doing their job. Coming on the authorities, the execution work comes back to the bureaucrats or the city authorities, so planning is one aspect and execution is another, how difficult it is to amalgamate both on the ground?
– There are not many difficulties at this level. Though there are some significant problems in public-private partnership kind of projects, their conceptualization and execution. Also, in some projects where some portion has a legacy like electrification of a city. Here electrification work is done by the government agencies in the part. So, there are some issues with these kind of projects. Largely, the government, under Smart City Mission, is planning and executing projects right from the beginning, therefore, no issues at all.
3. When you talk about automation and technology, it is also about getting them to practice by the common people because it is for them only. Unfortunately, in India, we lack sense, like when we talk about smart traffic management for that we need to have traffic sense and to bring that there has to be a change in perception. How are you prepared for bringing the perception change or do you think that this is the first step which is required?
– So first of all people are very adaptable when it comes to technology, be it educated or not. Almost everyone owns a smartphone, regardless of the caste, creed, age, religion, and colour. Even when it comes to railway booking, we make RS 25,000 crore worth of business through IRTC site alone. You are right that it is civic sense where we lack, but that is because that was never being enforced. There are laws for everything, for example in Mumbai there are e-challans for instance, so automatically the lane cutting and rules breaking has stopped, and because everyone knows someone is looking and monitoring them. These kinds of enforcement are needed to make impartment. Enforcement will bring perception change.
4. We keep on reading about the challenges to maintain these technologies like you’ll be having to deploy mini-sensors that give you data to analyze them. In order to preserve them, we need huge energy back-up so is only possible through solar or will there be batteries if yes then how do we plan to implement?
– Apart from electrical vehicle ecosystem, currently whichever project is going on, energy management of that project is the key because when you say that a project is going to be sustainable, then you know that there will be a replacement of specific part at a particular time, and the maintenance cost. When a project is being mapped, it has to include all these things. So without that, you face power failure, and the technology does not make sense. I think the government is making progress on electrifying and creating more capacity, I believe, those kind of problems are less now, it does take time, but eventually, this will soon be the thing of past.
5. One last question, though the government has there deadlines or targets to complete the development of 100 smart cities, what in your opinion is the current situation and by when can we have the dream of honorable PM?
– People have misunderstood PM’s dream, his dream is to create 100 smart cities, but his mission of completing those cities is by creating a smart area in the cities. The smart area is supposed to inspire the rest of the city so that the private developers and the public come together and get ideas from the smart area and build similar projects in the entire city. The government can’t make the whole city smart; it will take many years and a lot of capital which is not possible at this moment. The private developers are already taking ideas and building similar projects, this way the city will become entirely smart but over a period with the help of private developers and citizens.