India gets Smart with its urban strategy

24-Jun-2015 #Digital India Source: India Inc

The Narendra Modi government will kick off its ambitious project to build 100 smart cities, which promises to change the face of India’s urban landscape, on June 25. The scheme envisages spending at least Rs 1 lakh crore ($16.6 billion) on building these cities by 2020.

Uttar Pradesh is likely to get the highest number of such smart cities – 13 – followed by 12 in Tamil Nadu. Incidentally, these states are ruled opposition parties, UP by Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Tamil Nadu by Jayalalitha’s All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham.

In India’s horribly convoluted political discourse, where every decision is analysed through the prism of political opportunism, this is expected to blunt charges of partisanship and patronage.

Maharashtra, the largest BJP-ruled state, has been allotted 10 smart cities and Gujarat, Modi’s home state and one that he ruled for 12 years before moving to Delhi as Prime Minister, will get to build six.

The number of smart cities in other states are as follows: Rajasthan and West Bengal (4 each), Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Bihar (3 each), Telangana, Haryana, odisha and Chhattisgarh (2 each), while 4 Delhi, Chandigarh, J&K, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Kerala have been given one smart city each.

In keeping with the spirit of federalism, the Centre will ask the state governments to nominate the cities that will be developed under this scheme according to a set of guidelines that it will release soon.

India is undergoing massive urbanisation as people from rural areas flock to cities in search of livelihoods. This has placed an unbearable strain on India’s existing urban infrastructure, which is creaking at the seams and, in many places, has broken down.

By building new urban clusters spread across the country, the government intends to decentralise the process of urbanisation while at the same time giving citizens a better quality of life by way of assured power, water and sanitation, better transport facilities and a strong technology backbone to control several facets of urban infrastructure.

Simultaneously, the government is also flagging off an ambitious green energy initiative to generate 100,000 MW of solar power and 100,000 MW of other forms of renewable energy. This is expected to meet a large of the part of the power requirements of these cities.

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