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Infrastructure: And The Momentum Picks Up...

With the Smart Cities mission review date approaching, all chosen cities are competing hard to bring home ‘the best smart city in India’ medal

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On 26 June, it will be two years since the government first announced the Smart Cities project. This year, that day, officials from the Ministry of Urban Development will review the progress made by the smart-cities-in-the-making so far, and accordingly chart out action plans for next year.

With the review day approaching, however, the competition between cities is hotting up. From rolling out maximum requests for proposals (RFPs) to implementation of command and control centres, the cities are putting their best foot forward as the review will decide who leads the game.

For instance, while Surat has issued various RFPs for digital media agencies to create an open loop payment system, Ahmedabad is looking at a single card payment system that will be launched by 26 June. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has, on the other hand, floated a tender for design, built, supply and installation, operation and maintenance of Central Command & Control Centre (ICCC) and Data Centre with appropriate hardware and software.

Minister of Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu asserts that the implementation of the smart cities mission is changing the way city governments are addressing the issues of urban planning and execution.

He says the broad objectives of the smart city mission — aimed at improving the living conditions in the new cities — are: sustainable urban planning and development; management of urban affairs with citizens’ participation; area-based development; resilience to climate change, natural disasters, etc; and technology-based solutions for better governance and infrastructure management.

Echoing Naidu’s views, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis says, “The objective of smart city (project) is to enhance the quality of life of citizens.”

“We are planning integrated transport system in Mumbai and creating 200 km of metro network in the megapolis. We want to integrate the four modes of transport — metro, mono (rail), suburban railway and buses — in Mumbai, with one ticket for all,” he adds.

Each of the 100 cities — chosen by the government for smart city development — are coming up with different ways of enhancing the quality of life for citizens with unique innovations.

Mukesh Kumar, commissioner of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, says, “We are going to launch Transit Management System as well as Single card for all types of services across Ahmedabad. This would help citizens save time and will also be easier to use.”

These changes according to Surat Smart City Development CEO M. Nagarajan are good. “The smart cities programme has given the cities a framework with a timeline to view urban governance. It is a better approach than the pick-and-choose model of urban governance. This programme has brought speed and decisiveness to cities,” he says.

According to him, by providing equal access to best quality physical infrastructure, social infrastructure and mobility through leveraging state-of-the-art technology will make Surat a futuristic global city with focus on enhancing economic activity, protecting the ecology and preserving the identity and culture of the city.

In keeping with India’s smart cities mission, cities across the country are driving different kinds of projects such as LED lighting, widening of roads, Wifi projects and more. In fact, recently, principal secretary (Urban Development) of Madhya Pradesh government Malay Srivastava applauded the growing competitiveness among cities that is leading to better innovations across the country. As did Karnataka’s IT, BT and tourism minister Priyank Kharge. Talking about the scope of work that smart cities are generating, he says, “The response from IT companies has been phenomenal. There is a lot of interest in the smart city project.
However, the challenge is to tap into it to make it of practical use. Startups are very kicked about the vision of smart cities.”

“We are mobilising better resources to work in the smart cities mission across all cities. People’s participation has added to the mission. This will help in improving the professionalism among local bodies,” he adds.

He says there is a serious level of competitiveness among cities and states. They are welcoming new and innovative ideas in the development of their cities to make them smart.

For example, Haryana’s government is also trying to push its cities into the big game. While Faridabad got selected for funding under the smart city mission, Karnal is yet to compete in the third round. A funding of Rs 2,600 crore has been approved for Faridabad so far.




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