20th July 2014
What is smart city:
Bangalore has electronic city and Chennai Mahindra World City in Chengalpattu and many other cities also has integrated townships which has villas, apartments, office spaces, schools, hospitals, malls etc. However smart city’s core infrastructure is information technology, where a network of sensors, cameras, wireless devices, data centers will build the key infrastructure providing essential services. Smart cities use sustainable materials for building facilities and reduce energy consumption.
Smart city improves living quality, energy consumption, cleanliness in the environment by use of technology.
What It Takes To Build Smart City:
Smart city requires significant investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory action and engagement. Smart city means efficiency based on the intelligent management and integrated ICTs, and active citizen participation and implies a new kind of governance, genuine citizen involvement in public policy.
Building 100 Smart Cities In India:
India wants to build 100 smart cities and budget paves way by way of providing Rs 7,000 cr monetary assistance. Morever various countries are offering help to India in building 100 smart cities.
Singapore has offered to build some of the smart cities. India is also keen Singapore builds another Tianjin knowledge city (created by Singapore in China) that can be replicated in different parts of the country.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also expressed interest of France to help India. He met Indian PM and expressed the country’s interest in building 100 smart cities.
Impact of Smart Cities:
India has 3 cities in top 50 densly populated cities in world with Chennai (Rank 12), Delhi (Rank 14) and Mumbai (Rank 31). Creating more smart cities will not only help in de-congest the existing cities but also will stop huge migration to these cities. Also smart cities will save energy, water, oil consumption. India depends upon foreign countries to meet energy requirement. Moreover smart cities will provide cleaner environment, e-governance which will improve quality of life of people.
Despite of all euphoria India has to address few questions on building smart cities.
In the budget finance minister allocated Rs 70 cr to build one smart city which is miniscule amount in comparison to the requirement. Building smart cities should get infrastructure status then only it can attract FDI, otherwise government cannot fund these requirements.
Also it will take decades to build one city completely. India need to give clear policy direction in this regard. Earlier governments did not give clear direction for SEZ income tax policy matters which affected many early investors on SEZ schemes.
Acquiring land is always a contentious issue in India with siliguri in West Bengal is the best example. Land acquisition will be become more complicated with the introduction of Land Acquisition Act 2013 which asks acquirer to pay 4 times of market value of land and also to provide employment opportunity to displaced people. However the new government intends to tweak in section 40 of the act which gives power to government to acquire lands at short notice for certain reasons. It wants to add include building cities and laying roads in to section 40 of Land acquisition act 2013.