Smart cities in India – Is it a smart move?

smart city boon bane

Background :-

  • Smart cities concept was born in 2008, when IBM introduced this concept as a part of its Smarter Planet Initiative.
  • There are some successful smart cities in other countries such as Amsterdam, Barcelona & Stockholm etc.
  • It is expected that in India, by 2050, 70% of the population lives in cities. But the present cities are not capable to accommodate the growing migrants. 500 new cities are needed by then according to futurologists. To address this challenge, Govt of India launched ‘Smart cities Mission’ in 2015.
  • 98 cities were selected under this project. And these cities will be developed as smart cities in 5 years duration. In the first stage, 20 cities were selected for the financial year 2015-16. For the next two years, 40 and 38 cities respectively will be included in the mission.
  • The definition of ‘smart city’ differs from country to country and even from the city to city. It highly depends on the local needs. In the west, a smart city is more IT focused. But here, in India, smart city is the one that promises essential needs like clean water, electricity, sustainable environment, affordable housing etc with the integration of IT services.
  • The smart cities in India are being designed to drive economic growth and also to give a decent quality of life to the citizens.
  • The approx budget for this mission is 1 lakh crore rupees. Center will provide 48,000 crores in the next five years and respective state govts will provide another 48,000 crores. On top of this, investments will be provided through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.

In Favor :-

  • Many opportunities will be created not just to IT people but to many. So this can reduce the unemployment to some extent.
  • This can solve the problem of slums and the growing need for accommodation in cities.
  • Smart cities are going to be more citizen-centric. This will be a good step towards bottom-up approach in governance.
  • Smart initiates will reduce the cost of infrastructure, thereby making the housing cheaper and affordable.
  • Benefits will spread to all sections of people through trickle-down effect.
  • Improved transport system will have a great effect on economy.
  • Though the capital amount is huge, the benefits can recover the investment in future.

Against :-

  • Smart cities initiative will develop the already developed cities but not the poor villages. Instead of looking at solutions to accommodate the migrants from rural areas, it’s better to look at the solutions to increase the employment opportunities at villages.
  • Huge investment may make the life in smart cities more costly and unaffordable to many. Gated communities may develop there, which makes it a rich people zone. This can encourage slums.
  • As everything is integrated with technology, there will be a big data collection, putting privacy at risk.
  • Too much dependence on digitalisation can make us vulnerable to cyber attacks.
  • PPP model has failed in many cases. Relying on it is risky.
  • Huge investment.

Conclusion :-

‘Smart cities mission’ is indeed a smart move. But the real challenge ahead is ensuring that this mission won’t widen the rich-poor gap.

Afterwords :- What are your thoughts on this topic? Feel free to express your opinion in the comment section below.

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  1. No, we really don’t need smart cities but we need smart peoples and good culture which makes a city a smart city. The Smart city is never born, it has to made by hard work and various struggles. If the government tries to make a city smart but people these cities don’t know how to use those resources, then the city is no more called a smart city.

    Smart and intelligent peoples make a city smart.

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