Analysing the work under the smart city project
by Anushree Ghosh,
The smart city programme was announced in June 2015, it was positioned as one of the prominent projects in Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) manifesto in the 2014 election campaign. The cities under the project were supposed to undergo a transformation in a way that serves as an example of a model city to the others. The entire system of city management was supposed to be reformed. Technological support was a key factor in the development of the physical infrastructure of these cities. This was to be followed by other cities in India so that the whole country can develop one step at a time.
The concept took some time to gain momentum, special purpose vehicles were formed (SPVs) and consultants were appointed to guide the process. However, the rate of progress varied in different cities. The nation was divided into two zones under the Smart City Mission. 100 selected cities were grouped into 5 zones.
As per the report published by Economic Times on 5th May 2019 – Mission director Kunal Kumar said:
“We appointed city support coordinators, from within members of our team. Each member from our Mission Management Unit at Delhi and the Technical Assistance team was mapped to some cities and they continuously engaged with their representatives. They were tasked with the responsibility of identifying projects that were stuck”.
As a result of this approach, the government focused on the concept of “Getting projects from paper to ground”. In 2018, the last 6 months were spent on identifying the obstacles in various plans regarding the smart city project; various meetings were held, and quick action points were discussed using video conferencing. As a result, the number of projects completed increased in the last year in comparison to the last two years.
However, there are many confusions in the smart city development scheme. The most important question is the inclusion of the citizens in building a sustainable community. The progress on smart city projects remains non-effective if the residents can’t align themselves in the new set-up. The corporate involvement in the city building project is worrisome as we don’t know the level to which the citizens will be asked to pay back.
Further, it has been 5 years of Modi government and it is time to learn from the mistakes that lagged the project. India can learn from other smart cities around the world. For instance, Arthus is Denmark is a result of successful collaboration between the private, public and educational sector. Likewise, the Indian government must work closely with the corporate/private and local community to complete the projects and take on the next lot of Indian cities.