In a significant move that would accelerate the creation of ‘smart cities’ in India, the Prime minister Mr. Narendra Modi met senior government officials & policy makers, to kick start a series of consultations to actualise his vision to build a 100 smart cities in India. Readers would recall that the Ministry of Urban development (MuD) had released their preliminary vision / ideas about the smart cities, earlier this year. Ramesh Menon, Director, Certes Realty Ltd, a strategic consulting co. & expert on Land pooling avers that “Smart cities are a just requirement, not just for an aspirational burgeoning population, but also to incorporate the vision of the government to offer ‘Quality of life to all residents’, not just to the urban population, but the urban dependent too”.
India is one of the fastest urbanising nations in the world, with an estimated 400 million people being added to cities over the next 3 decades. “Adding more urban centres, with the captive ability to create economic activity for the addition of population would be the norm” said Menon.
Albeit very ambitious, the officials made presentations suggesting the roll out of “One Chicago need be built every year”.
During the meeting, the PM asked his officials to identify centres where these smart cities would be created, based on Infrastructure, citizen-centric services & quality of life. In a more pragmatic move, he asked his officials to identify areas within the catchment of existing cities, so that the smart cities are developed as ‘satellite’ destinations. both could complement each other, and grow simultaneously, offering opportunities for upgrade of services.
The PM also emphasised on the need to create these smart cities on the premise of “Independent economic hubs” which focuses on deployment of modern technology for the waste management, water treatment, and waste to energy.
In line with this, the PM has asked the MUD to organise a workshop at the earliest, with the participation of all the stakeholders, to identify the gaps in the actualization of ‘Concept to creation’ of the smart cities. These model cities would deploy the vision of the PM to create well governed urban centres, which can be replicated in other cities too.
Ramesh Menon feels that “pragmatism, rather than quota should be the yardstick for identification of smart cities. Smart cities need smart people, to manage smart businesses, to create smart revenue. These cannot be stand alone cities, else, this too would go the SEZ way”.
You would recall that the Delhi development authority (DDA) has already announced about two new smart cities in the National capital, for which the operation mechanism of land pooling is being finalised.