After promising to build 100 new cities in its manifesto, the Centre has now whittled down its ambitious plan and will now focus on making existing cities smarter.
The government will do this by introducing technology-based interventions in the management of the cities.
According to sources, this is one of PM Narendra Modi’s pet projects and is being closely monitored by the PMO. The union urban development (UD) ministry is readying the blueprint of the proposal, which will replace the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), said the sources. The ministry initially proposed to launch the smart cities project in phases.
In phase I, big cities would be targeted where the government proposed to use information technology as a tool for solving urban problems and creating an efficient governance mechanism.
“Some of the bigger cities have already introduced technology-based interventions like intelligent traffic systems or online systems for getting death/birth certificates. In the first phase, we want to bring these interventions used by different cities on one common platform,” said an official. Initially, the government will concentrate on 468 cities where 74% of India’s urban population lives.
UD ministry officials have been told to take inspiration from a similar smart city project — Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) — coming up in Gujarat.
“Nothing has been finalised as yet. We are still grappling with issues related to its implementation and funding pattern — to what extent public private partnership would be used, whether centre and states would jointly fund the project or states would have to garner their own resources,” said the official.