Smart City –The New Address of Urban India
500 Cities in 20 Years
Every minute, about 30 Indians are migrating to cities from rural areas. By 2050, India’s urban population will reach the mark of 70 crore. To attend their needs, there is a need to develop 500 cities. By 2050, 70% of the world population will be living in urban areas and metro cities bear most of the burden.
Despite increased urbanisation in India, the modes and means of managing the cities and urbanisation processes haven’t changed. Thanks to the governmental apathy, our basic amenities in our towns and cities have been in shambles and citizens are put up with sub-humane urban infrastructure. At such a juncture the smart cities initiative assumes paramount importance. Let us take a look at the new urbanisation initiative by the Indian government and its potential to change the future of our cities. The NDA government has decided to develop 100 cities into smart cities by 2020 and overall 500 cities in the near future. The need for development of such cities is has been an overdue.
Growth of the Idea
The idea of smart city came into being as part of the search for solutions to the increasing problems of urban dwellers. By making optimal use of resources, smart cities propel growth. This will in turn result in healthy competition and sustainable development. The idea first came into prominence during global financial slowdown, which stated in 2008. In this year, the IBM Corporation has started IBM Smarter Cities Initiative to focus on creating tech-savvy smart cities. Since 2009, several countries including South Korea, United Arab Emirates and China made huge investments in research and development of smart cities.
Need for Smart Cities
Urban areas record faster growth than rural ones in any country. The migration of rural and semi-urban population to the big cities in search of better opportunities accelerates this growth and this has been the world-wide phenomenon. According to 2011 Census, about 42.6 % and 45.2% of population of Gujarat and Maharashtra are urban dwellers, respectively.
In south India, the undivided Andhra Pradesh state has more than 35% of its population living in urban areas. The urban population of Tamil Nadu and Kerala are 48.5% and 47.7% and in Karnataka it is 38.6% and this trend is growing. Unplanned urbanisation as such rapid speed is nothing but a fountainhead of problems. Concentration of development in big cities also created regional economic disparities.
The cities have witnessed huge demographic growth after independence due to rural migration. During 1971-81, the population of Bangalore has grown at 75.6% growth rate. Asansol, the second largest city in West Bengal has recorded a huge 108.7% population growth rate during 1981-1991. In the same period, Faridabad of Haryana, Guwahati of Assom, Thane of Maharashtra, Visakhapatnam of Andhra Pradesh and Bhubaneswar of Odisha have respectively recorded the population growth of 85.5 %, 188.3%, 105.9%, 75 %, 87.7%. Between 1991 and 2001, Surat (Gujarat) and Nasik (Maharashtra) had 85.1% and 58.9% population growth rates. Between 2001 and 2011, the country’s prominent metros Delhi and Mumbai have received huge numbers of migrant population from different parts of the country. Stagnation of rural economy and recurrent agrarian crises have compelled the migration from rural areas to big cities in search of opportunities.
The EU Strategies
Between 1991 and 2011, about 7 million farmers have left agriculture. The continuous migration has exposed the long-pending problems in development and management of urban infrastructure. At this juncture, the NDA government which assumed public office in May 2014 brought the concept of smart cities to the fore. As part of this project, it has decided to develop 100 cities into smart cities. Several developed countries are now ready to extend their cooperation in this rejuvenation process. Reportedly, Indian government is now studying the urban growth strategies of European Union. .
Definition of Smart City
According to Frost & Sullivan, a growth consulting firm, smart cities must have eight fundamental features -
- Smart Governance
- Smart Energy
- Smart Building
- Smart Mobility
- Smart Infrastructure
- Smart Technology
- Smart Healthcare
- Smart Citizen
IEEE Smart Cities, the smart city is a process of bringing together the technology, government and the society with the objective to develop of smart economy, smart mobility, smart environment, smart people, smart living, and smart governance.
According to Business Directory, economic growth is the key for improvement of economy and standards of life. Any city that has achieved it can be called a smart city.
In India, the government proposed to develop 100 smart cities in 2014-15 budget. To initiate the project, the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely earmarked Rs. 7,060 crore. According to the government, the following 100 cities will be modernised and developed into smart cities –
7. Gandhi Nagar
5. Bihar Sharif
In these cities, special investment areas or special economic zones will be developed and government wants to attract foreign investment by providing tax incentives.
Indian government wants to develop the 100 smart cities by 2020. This goal is clubbed with the sustainability goals of World Bank. Experts feel that smart cities can further the growth of fast-growing Indian economy. And the road for this development is modernisation of existing cities and converting them into business hubs.
For quite a long time, Indian urbanisation has been perceived as a by-product of failed regional planning. Urban areas become viable only when they generate income that exceeds the expenditure over them. So far, this fundamental aspect has missed in thought of urban development. The new effort of the government has this important ingredient.
Benefits of Smart Cities
The smart cities must emerge as the cities with best of the class infrastructure, sustainable real estate, information management and markets. By implementing smart technologies, following benefits can be reaped -
- Efficient Public Transport System
- Sewage Water Recycling
- Water Management Systems
- Green Spaces
- Well-developed Physical and Social Infrastructure
- Employment through Special Economic Zones
- Uninterrupted supply of goods and services
- Improvement in life standards of the people
- Effective Management of Natural Resources
- Citizens’ Participation in the Governance
- Conservation and Management of Environment
- Smart Urban Governance
- Sustainable Development
- Global Networking
- Creative Industries
- Availability of modern communications network
- E-Urban Governance
- Modernisation of Security System
Global pension funds of Japan, Singapore and the USA are keen on participating in the development of 100 Indian smart cities. It is estimated that only Greater Noida alone will attract investments worth Rs. 30,000 crore. According to an estimate, if Kochi becomes a smart city, Kerala will emerge as an IT hub and about 1 lakh jobs will be created. This will develop other sectors such as media and real estate. Overall, development of Kochi will elevate growth rate of Kerala.
The US is keen to extend its expertise in the areas of railways systems, manufacturing of railway equipment, airports, traffic control systems, repair and maintenance of aircrafts, modernisation of security systems, integrated traffic management systems, urban safety systems and port development. Cooperation in smart cities development will take Indo-US cooperation to the next level.
Singapore government is also evincing interest to take part in development of smart cities. Besides, Singapore also wants to have lion share in development of capital city of newly-carved Andhra Pradesh state. After holding the talks, the Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have decided to form a committee to oversee the cooperation in urban development. This committee will look into the topics – development of smart cities, infrastructural development in 500 cities and towns, urban housing development, development of the cities of historical and heritage importance. The Indian government has requested the Singapore government to also assist in the areas of urban e-governance and solid waste management, which play an important role in delivery of civic services.
Policies hold the key
The idea of developing cities with advanced infrastructure is highly commendable. However, these facilities must be of on par with world class. For this, there is need for policy flexibility and conducive tax systems which can attract foreign investment. To reach this goal, governments must work in selfless and non-partisan manner.