OBJECTIVES OF SMART CITIES
The objective of Smart Cities is 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. 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 light house to other aspiring cities. Through Smart Cities the government also wants to create employment and enhance incomes for all, especially the poor and disadvantaged leading to inclusive cities.
CORE PILLARS OF SMART CITIES
- Institutional Infrastructure (Governance)
- Physical Infrastructure
- Social Infrastructure (Schools, hospitals, community houses etc.)
Total 100 cities will be developed as Smart Cities. Till date 4 rounds of selection of these Smart Cities have been concluded and 90 cities (out of 100) have been nominated. The fifth and final round is remaining.
Each selected city will get Rs 200 crore every year for the next five years. Rs 100 crore will be given by the Centre per year while the remaining will come from contribution by the concerned state. In all, each city will get Rs 1,000 crore in next five years for the metamorphosis.
LIMITATIONS OF THE SMART CITIES
- Area Based Approach
Proposals from a majority of cities have financially prioritised developing a small area rather than the entire city. According to a study, 71 per cent of the funding from the mission will be spent on area-based development, the beneficiaries of which are about 4 per cent of the city’s population on average. Thus a lion’s share of the Centre’s investment in the Smart City Mission will flow to well-developed pockets that account for less than 3 to 4 per cent of the cumulative area of the cities. This prioritisation of area might enhance the lived experience of residents of the area, but poses the larger questions on the substance of this mission.
- Lack of convergence with other schemes
There are multiple policies for urban India: the Swachh Bharat Mission which is gearing up to make urban areas clean; Housing for All which promises universal housing by 2022; the National Urban Livelihoods Mission; the National Urban Information System; and the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY). Additionally, there are multiple infrastructure projects like expansion of city roads and highways, water reservoir and storage-related development which are mostly undertaken by development authorities or the State governments. The Smart Cities Mission’s convergence with all these schemes is not known.
- Elected bodies ignored
In 1992, the 74th constitutional amendment had envisioned an elected local government with neighbourhood committees and mohalla sabhas as an institutional architecture vis-à-vis the functional, financial and legislative domain of city governments. The mission buries this arrangement. As the crucial decision-making powers for the Smart Cities Mission are delegated to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a body to be set up and which would implement the mission.
- Dilution of inclusive development
One of the stated objectives of the Smart City Mission was to act as a corrective to a lopsided developmental pattern. The mission intended to “create employment and enhance incomes for all, especially the poor and disadvantaged leading to inclusive cities”. This emphasis on inclusive development has been diluted. Only 26 of the cities hitherto selected have plans to provide affordable housing, education and medical facilities.
- Employment Generation overlooked
The city development plans should have been aligned with some of the government’s employment-generating initiatives, such as Make In India. Sensor-based public lighting and road redesign schemes seem to have caught the government’s fancy, instead. The government does have plans to promote start-ups and infrastructure projects. But these projects are concentrated in tiny pockets in the selected cities.
Analysis By – Wakeman Neutron