Small, but smart steps ahead
With the announcement of 20 Smart Cities, the Indian Urban Ministry is taking baby steps to achieve its goal to have 100 such well-developed centres under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 100 Smart Cities Mission. The Mission’s main objective is integrated…

With the announcement of 20 Smart Cities, the Indian Urban Ministry is taking baby steps to achieve its goal to have 100 such well-developed centres under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 100 Smart Cities Mission.

The Mission’s main objective is integrated urban planning with a sharper focus on infrastructure, land use planning, transport, design and architecture.

The government says a Smart City is “not a destination but a series of small steps in that direction.” The list of 20 Smart Cities and towns shortlisted by the Centre on Jan 28 reflects its decisive steps in this direction.

These cities have already submitted plans to cumulatively mobilise resources to the tune of Rs 508.02 billion over the next five years under the public-private-partnership route and invest these funds for rolling out “smart” interventions across an area spanning 26,735 acres through a mix of redevelopment and greenfield development, reports have said.

With the announcement of the first batch of 20 cities, special purpose vehicles are being floated for channelling funds to build these Smart Cities. The urbanisation level in India is still at just around 31 per cent, far lower than China’s 54 per cent, Brazil’s 90 per cent and well over 80 per cent in most developed economies.

The government’s policy thrust is to upgrade basic infrastructure under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) across 500 cities with outlays of Rs 480 billion and Rs 500 billion, respectively.

The importance of these urban centres as drivers of India’s development cannot be underestimated. A McKinsey’s report has identified 49 metropolitan growth clusters covering 183 districts across India, which it estimated would contribute 77 per cent of India’s incremental GDP, 72 per cent of consuming-class households, and 73 per cent of its incremental income pool in the 2012-25 periods.

These small steps towards in creating 100 Smart Cities will bring greater gain to the country’s economic and social development.

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