- The Government of India has launched the Smart Cities Mission on 25 June 2015.
- The objective is to promote sustainable and inclusive 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 lighthouse to other aspiring cities. The Smart Cities Mission is meant to set examples that can be replicated both within and outside the Smart City, catalysing the creation of similar Smart Cities in various regions and parts of the country.
- Some of the core infrastructure elements in a Smart City would include adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation, including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing, especially for the poor, robust IT connectivity and digitalization, good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation, sustainable environment, safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly and health and education.
- The strategic components of the Smart Cities Mission are city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (Greenfield development) plus a Pan-city initiative in which Smart Solutions are applied covering larger parts of the city.
- Area-based development will transform existing areas (retrofit and redevelop), including slums, into better planned human settlements, thereby, improving liveability of the whole cities. Development of well-planned and fully serviced new areas (greenfield) will be encouraged around cities in order to accommodate the rapidly expanding population in urban areas. Application of Smart Solutions will enable cities to use technology to improve infrastructure and services.
- Comprehensive development in this way will improve quality of life, create employment and enhance incomes for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged, leading to inclusive cities.
- The selection process of Smart Cities is based on the idea of Competitive and Co-operative Federalism and follows a Challenge process to select cities in two stages.
- In January 2016, based on the All India Competition, 20 smart cities were selected in Round 1.13 more Smart Cities were selected in May 2016 in fast track round.
- In Round 2, 63 potential smart cities participated of which, 27 Smart Cities have been selected in September 2016.
- In Round 3, 45 potential smart cities participated of which, 30 Smart Cities have been selected in June 2017.
- In Round 4, 15 potential smart cities participated of which, 9 Smart Cities have been selected in January 2018.
- A total investment of Rs.2,01,981 crore has been proposed by the 99 cities under their smart city plans. Projects focusing on revamping an identified area (Area Based Projects) are estimated to cost Rs. 1,63,138 crore. Smart initiatives across the city (Pan City Initiatives) account for the remaining Rs. 38,841 crore of investments.
- The implementation of the Smart Cities Mission is done by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to be set up at city level in the form of a limited company under the Companies Act, 2013 and will be promoted by the State/UT and the Urban Local Body (ULB) jointly both having 50:50 equity shareholding. After selection, each selected Smart Cities have to set up SPVs and start implementation of their Smart City Proposal, preparation of Detailed Project Reports (DPRs), tenders etc.
- The SPV will convert the Smart City Proposal into projects through Project Management Consultants (PMCs) and implementation thereafter
- It aims 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.
- It aims to focus on sustainable and inclusive development and to set examples that can be replicated both within and outside the Smart City, catalysing the creation of similar Smart Cities in various regions and parts of the country.
- To improve the ease of living particularly for poor, women, elderly and differently abled
The Mission will cover 100 cities and its duration will be five years (FY2015-16 to FY2019- 20).
- The strategic components of Area-based development in the Smart Cities Mission are city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (greenfield development) plus a Pan-city initiative in which Smart Solutions are applied covering larger parts of the city.
- It will be operated as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) and the Central Government proposes to give financial support to the Mission to the extent of Rs. 48,000 crores over five years i.e. on an average Rs. 100 crores per city per year. An equal amount, on a matching basis, will have to be contributed by the State/ULB.
- States are asked to nominate names of cities for a ‘City Challenge Competition’ and the chosen ones will get Central fund.
- Cities will prepare their Smart City Proposal (SCP) containing the vision, plan for mobilisation of resources and intended outcomes in terms of infrastructure upgradation and smart applications.
- The implementation of the Mission at the City level will be done by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which will be headed by a CEO and have nominees of Central Government, State Government and ULB on its Board. State/UT and the ULB will be the promoters having 50:50 equity shareholding.
- Funds provided by the Government of India in the Smart Cities Mission to the SPV will be in the form of tied grant and kept in a separate Grant Fund.
- Cities in India are governed by multiple organizations and authorities which have their own jurisdictions; thus Indian cities are characterized by multiple boundaries. The governing authorities in a city include urban local bodies (ULB) with the primary functions of service delivery, planning for socio-economic development and regulation of development. This results in their subdivision into different wards. Large cities also have development authorities, urban development authorities or improvement trusts responsible for planning and development that divide cities into various planning zones.
- Line departments, that are sector-specific organisations, deal with the provision of services in their respective sectors — the water supply agency has its own supply zones. Sewage disposal is also done based on various zones. The organizations responsible for safety and security delineate another set of zones. Therefore, the different spatial entities of the city formed by non-coterminous boundaries deter effective planning and good governance.
- This calls for local spatial planning. Spatial planning includes regional planning, transportation and environment as well as promoting economic growth of a region via models and techniques. This term is mostly used in context of Regional Planning.
- For example: Conventional city planning talks about where a metro rail project should come up, a spatial plan “will also say what growth impetus the metro project will provide for the city and how the metro plan will be linked to land use and boost the economic activity of the city”.
- It will be a blueprint for the city in terms of social infrastructure too. Planning for healthcare and schools, among other things, will be a part of it and once a project is sanctioned, it will become embedded in it. It will be easy to bring about any development project
- An important first step would be to build safeguards to protect the democratic nature of governance structures. A robust governance structure, which allows for sharing of power and financial resources between urban local bodies and the private sector stakeholders, would go a long way towards reducing fears.
- The VCF policy framework (a principle that states that people benefiting from public investments in infrastructure should pay for it like land value tax, fee for changing land use, betterment levy, development charges, transfer of development rights, and land pooling systems) was introduced by the Ministry of Urban Development recently. Besides this, tapping of municipal bonds can meet the financial shortages.
- Cues can be taken from successful models like Pune Municipal Body (Municipal bonds), Karnataka (for its methods to fund its mass transit projects) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (betterment levy) to finance infrastructure projects.
- Best international practices and principles of the recently concluded UN URBAN AGENDA of the Habitat conference can be incorporated to meet SDG goals.
- Similarly, at the planning stage itself, cities must seek convergence in the SCM with AMRUT, Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY), Digital India, Skill development, Housing for All, PMAY-Urban for better integration, coordination and inclusiveness.
- Institutional and legal mechanisms for any repercussions with regard to social justice, equity and cyber safety also must be stitched on to the mission strategy for it to be truly smart.