Talks of smart cities have been there for quite some time, but not so in India. The phenomenon caught public imagination when the BJP’s poll manifesto early last year talked about creation of ‘100 Smart Cities’ in the country. And, ever since the Narendra Modi-led NDA Government came to power, there’s been a systematic bid to educate on ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of such cities.
Every other day, the government is coming up with a new announcement regarding creating or developing smart cities, and it is lapped up by the public with the same enthusiasm. It was recently that the government approved Smart City Mission entailing an expenditure of Rs.48,000 crore. The concept once executed is expected to transform the country’s image at the global level.
Some of the cities to be developed as smart cities include Ajmer in Rajasthan, Allahabad and Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, and Pune and Palghar in Maharashtra, among others. However, out of 100, only a few have been finalised to be developed into smart cities. Currently, the Government is in the process of finalising the guidelines for selection of cities to be developed into smart ones.
According to Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, a Smart City would be having provisions for basic infrastructure to give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of smart solutions, keeping citizens at the centre.
The Smart Cities Mission involves ‘an area-based approach’ and it is meant to set examples that can be replicated both within and outside the Smart City, he says.
Adding another feature to smart cities is the State of Maharashtra, which plans to create theme-based cities. For instance, Pune will be developed as a smart city for Education and Information Technology (IT). The Government is also planning to develop necessary infrastructure and promote investments in education and IT hubs spread over more than 3500 acres of land adjoining the city of Pune. It is will be developed at a scale fit to be called a global smart city.
Further, Palghar, located about 87 km north of Mumbai, has 480 hectares of land. The government intends to develop Palghar as the medical city whose potential for medical tourism could also be exploited. In addition to it, rapidly growing Thane district lying adjacent to Mumbai might be refined as an industrial smart city.
However, another city hitting the headlines frequently these days is Amethi – yes, the bastion of Congress party. Parliamentarian from the constituency, Rahul Gandhi, has been planning to develop a food park there. The project that the Congress Vice President was to propose in House last month, was signed off by the previous UPA Government.
In a smart move, the NDA Government has now included the city in its list of cities to be made smarter. A senior Amethi official, M P Saroj, said that a town planner would be hired soon to plan development of Amethi as a high-tech city with wi-fi, uninterrupted power supply, good roads, high-tech disposal of wastes and world-class education system, and with a focus on employment for youth.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi firm on developing 100 smart cities and turning the country into a ‘Digital India’, it looks just a matter of time that we turn into a ‘smart’ nation.