100 cities to turn smart

The Union Cabinet has cleared the Smart Cities Mission — under which 100 smart cities would be built.

Aim of the Mission:

The aim of the mission is to more efficiently utilize available assets, resources and infrastructure to enhance quality of urban life and provide a clean and sustainable environment.

Selection of the Cities:

  • Cities to be developed will be selected through a ‘competition’ intended to ascertain their ability to achieve mission objectives.
  • Each state will shortlist a number of smart city aspirants, which will prepare proposals for the Centre.
  • Each selected city would get central assistance of Rs 100 crore per year for five years.
  • To begin about 20 cities would be selected after the state governments come forward with names of cities they want nominated.
  • There will be special emphasis on participation of citizens in prioritizing and planning urban interventions.

Implementation:

  • The Mission will be implemented through ‘area based’ approach, which includes retrofitting, redevelopment, pan-city initiatives and development of new cities.
  • Under retrofitting, deficiencies in an identified area will be addressed through necessary interventions.
  • Redevelopment enables reconstruction of an area that is already built but not amenable for any interventions.
  • Pan-city components could be interventions like intelligent transport solutions that benefits residents by reducing commuting time.
  • The focus will be on core infrastructure services like
    1. adequate and clean water supply,
    2. sanitation and solid waste management,
    3. efficient urban mobility and public transportation,
    4. affordable housing for the poor,
    5. power supply,
    6. robust IT connectivity,
    7. governance, especially e-governance,
    8. citizen participation.

Smart City

What are Smart Cities?

  • A ‘smart city’ is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability.
  • It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents.
  • There are many technological platforms involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres.
  • In a smart city, economic development and activity is sustainable and rationally incremental by virtue of being based on success-oriented market drivers such as supply and demand. They benefit everybody, including citizens, businesses, the government and the environment.

Origin:

  • The concept of smart cities originated at the time when the entire world was facing one of the worst economic crises.
  • In 2008, IBM began work on a ‘smarter cities’ concept as part of its Smarter Planet initiative.
  • By the beginning of 2009, the concept had captivated the imagination of various nations across the globe.
  • Countries like South Korea, UAE and China began to invest heavily into their research and formation.

Are they necessary?

  • Across the world, the stride of migration from rural to urban areas is increasing.
  • By 2050, about 70% of the population will be living in cities.
  • The idea will work as millions of poor are migrating to cities for job opportunities and better standard of living.
  • Existing cities are unable to bear any extra load of migrants.
  • Masturbation in India has for the longest time been viewed as a by-product of failed regional planning.
  • Though it is inevitable, and will only change when the benefits of urbanization overtake the costs involved, it is an opportunity for achieving faster growth.
  • With increasing urbanization and the load on rural land, the government has now realized the need for cities that can cope with the challenges of urban living and also be magnets for investment.

Challenges:

The concept is not without challenges, especially in India. Some of the Major challenges are:

  • The success of such a city depends on residents, entrepreneurs and visitors becoming actively involved in energy saving and implementation of new technologies.
  • There are many ways to make residential, commercial and public spaces sustainable by ways of technology, but a high percentage of the total energy use is still in the hands of end users and their behavior.
  • There is the time factor — such cities can potentially take anything between 20 and 30 years to build.
  • Land acquisition will also obviously be the biggest hurdle while setting up smart cities.

Benefits:

  • Smart cities can be developed over a minimum area of 500 acres and will require at least Rs 6,000 crore of investment for basic and back-end infrastructure.
  • Experts say it can generate employment for at least 200,000 people per city.
  • 10 such new cities can bring in about Rs 9 lakh crore investment (including investments by users) and usher in unprecedented economic growth.
  • The smart cities will result in new orders for city planning, engineering, designing, and construction companies.
  • The project will also generate huge interest among the global players who might want to partner such projects.
  • One sector where results can be made visible almost instantly is urban development, where both public and private sectors can identify 500-5000 acres at a single location and kick start the development process.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, BS.

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