Millennium Post

Cz smart is the new buzzword

Sustainable smart cities are the way ahead for inclusive economic growth and this is the message being continuously highlighted by the concerned authorities in India. While the Indian government is concentrating on this effort, many smart cities have already begun springing up throughout the country and these include: Kochi Smart City, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in Ahmedabad, Naya Raipur in <g data-gr-id="74">Chhattishgarh</g> and Wave Infratech’s 4,500-acre smart city near New Delhi. With drought, scarcity of water, climate change leading to crops being damaged and the rural population migrating to the cities in search of job and better living conditions, India’s urbanisation is proceeding at a speedy rate that estimates suggest nearly 600 million of Indians will be living in cities by 2030 – up from 290 million as reported in the 2001 census. Statistics <g data-gr-id="89">show</g> that by 2050, about 70 <g data-gr-id="93">per cent</g> of the population will be living in cities, and India is no exception. It will need about 500 new cities to accommodate the influx. Smart Cities offer a conceptual and practical tool box to deal with unprecedented urbanisation. Urbanisation in India has historically been viewed as a byproduct of failed regional planning. It is only now that it is being realised that it is inevitable.

With increasing urbanisation and the load on rural land, the government has now realised the need for cities that can cope with the challenges of urban living and also be magnets for investment. The announcement of “100 smart cities” falls in line with this vision.

While Modi is pushing for making Smart Cities a success in India, his effort has begun with <g data-gr-id="72">allocation</g> of an amount of Rs 7,060 crore towards this project, which comes to around Rs 70 crore per city. According to the government’s smart city concept details released last year, the estimated investment requirements for water supply, sewerage, sanitation and transportation-related infrastructure will be Rs 7 lakh crore for 100 cities.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has stated that rough estimates highlighted a requirement of around Rs 40 lakh crore in 20 years to ensure basic infrastructure in all urban areas, including 500 cities and smart cities. Since the government alone cannot provide this – due to its various other activities – it was going in for the PPP model by involving the private sector in a big way, the Minister stated.

Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu recently stated that the Central government was not in a position to make all investments for Smart Cities <g data-gr-id="69">and therefore</g> the public-private route would be necessary. “It will take lakhs of crores of rupees to invest in Smart Cities. The government will provide viability gap funding and facilitate whatever is <g data-gr-id="71">necessary</g> but it has to be built through the PPP model only,” the minister has said at a session on building smart cities in Gujarat.

Shankar Aggarwal (IAS) Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, highlighted the 100 Smart Cities initiative while delivering the keynote address at another interactive panel discussion on “Smart Cities in India: Reality in the Making” jointly organised by MVIRDC World Trade Centre and All India Association of Industries  along with the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “This process started from the <g data-gr-id="78">Swachh</g> Bharat Abhiyan, to rejuvenating heritage towns, and bringing about urban renewal of 500 towns – leading to creation of the 100 smart cities,” he said while pointing out that Indians were basically entrepreneurial by nature, India possessed demographic dividend and the urban population of 31 <g data-gr-id="92">per cent</g> contributes to 63 per cent of GDP. “It is education that would bring about empowerment; however the quality of education is poor which can be fixed through the right infrastructure such as e-education, imparting good quality skills. Each step of the process can be made sustainable and frugal innovation can be introduced in every area which then can be supported by governments and semi-government bodies,” he said.

Aggarwal pointed out that national priorities could be made a reality through technology, innovation, citizen involvement, employment generation through ‘Make in India’ while improving the quality of life. Noting that to bring about the smart cities concept, competition was needed among cities through the Bloomberg Philanthropy whereby funding solution to urban challenges could be reached, he assured of setting up 100 cities in a span of 10 years and support for adding to the existing strength of the people, providing the necessary hand-holding in seeing projects through and being a facilitator in the entire process.

“The exciting times that we are living in are transformational in nature for India and we can all perform wonderfully well under the present government which is focused in its goals to provide meaningful and inclusive growth. This can be achieved when the 22 per cent of the population that is below the poverty line, the 50 per cent below the empowerment line and the disadvantaged are included in such growth. This has brought us to the juncture to relook at the urbanisation <g data-gr-id="102">process,</g> since growth and in turn employment is generated from the urban sector,” he said. 

Sanjay Sethi (IAS). Additional Metropolitan Commissioner-I, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), while attempting to define the smart city concept, said that the right definition would emphasise the process of creating a smart city and not the final product. Providing a case study on the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC – Mumbai)) in making it a “Brownfield Smart City Project,” he said that they were achieving it through the use of ICT and non-ICT initiatives – coupled with the right urban design. “Besides, the formation is based on foundational, advanced and futuristic initiative which is the way forward. Smart BKC is being built around centricity, business and making it environment-friendly through the process of continuous innovation. It is being conceptualised in comparison to global cities. In a similar way, Smart Wadala Greenfield (Mumbai) project is being conceptualised to include mixed land use, smart transport, pedestrian segregation, green buildings, intelligent buildings and smart physical infrastructure,” he said.

Abhishek Lodha, Managing Director, Lodha Group brought in the aspect of the private sector in the creation of smart cities and opined that some of the most livable cities across that world have incorporated the various smart elements to improve the quality of life for its citizens. “Smart Cities need to become smarter in multiple domains across governance, sustainability while improving overall quality of life of its citizens,” he said while citing the example of Palava, a project involving an initial investment of Rs. 30,000 crore, and which exemplified the smart city opportunity with numerous initiatives being rolled out.

Vijay Kalantri, Vice Chairman, MVIRDC World Trade Centre and President, All India Association of Industries, while stressing on the need for infrastructure in order to create smart cities, said that Modi’s announcement of the 100 Smart Cities initiative has opened up a plethora of opportunities as well as challenges necessitating some innovative approaches and measures. Although a vision to make Smart Cities was in place, there is a need to frame policies for the implementation process while also making the people involved accountable, he said.

Addressing a session on “Smart Cities and Sustainable Development”, Nilesh Purey, Vice President, ICT, Gujarat International Finance Tec- City Co. Ltd (GIFT), showcased GIFT  which is which is being implemented as a globally-benchmarked International Financial Service Centre. “GIFT is a classic example of a public-private model  developed by the Government of Gujarat through a joint venture between its undertaking Gujarat Urban Development Company Ltd, (GUDCL) and Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. ( IL&FS) . 

Recognizing the potential of the State as a centre for the financial services industry, GIFT is being conceptualised as a financial and IT Services hub to capitalise on the in- house financial business acumen.  Located between Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, GIFT is easily accessible through 4-6 lane state and national highways and will be in the proximity of Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC),” he said, adding “It is estimated that GIFT would provide 5, 00,000 direct jobs and an equal number of indirect jobs. Supported by state-of–the–art internal infrastructure, GIFT CITY is being developed as an integrated smart city which will also host social and residential facilities like School, Training Centre, Business Club, Retail Mall, Hotel and Residential Apartments.”

Beyond urbanisation

“India has proven historic track record of urban development in our ancient cities like Indus Valley Civilisation and our Smart Cities will have continuum in this wisdom and direction,” Dr Suhas Pednekar, President <g data-gr-id="228">Vijnan</g> Bharati and Principal, Ruia College, said while describing the four important pillars of Smart Cities as being the: Institutional, Physical, Social and Economic infrastructure. 

<g data-gr-id="229">Vijnan</g> Bharati is a national organisation working in the field of Science and Technology to create awareness about scientific issues, project grass-root level issues to policy-makers and the deliverables of +Smart City+ pragmatically to the <g data-gr-id="230">stake-holders</g>. 

“The +Bharat Model+ for building Smart Cities takes into account local consideration in their planning and recognises that the “One-Size-Fits-All’ universal urban model adhered to across the world cannot be replicated in India if the needs of the diverse urban population are to be best served. The Bharat Model is aimed at building smart cities from the bottom up, rather than the other way <g data-gr-id="244">around,</g> and addresses the grassroots concerns of its citizens,” he said.

 “<g data-gr-id="231">Vijnan</g> Bharati believes in the fact that our own strengths and weaknesses can evolve a model for ourselves for the Prime Minister’s grand vision of 100 Smart Cities. We believe that a +Bharat Model+ of Smart City will look inwards to discover as to how our own local dynamics will guide us to establish a signature of its own. At the same time, the progress on this subject is not possible without taking into account attempts made in other countries. While brainstorming with prominent experts at national and international level, we felt that there exists a scope in understanding many facets of Smart Cities,” he said.

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