India plans to build 100 so-called smart cities by 2022 to help accommodate its swelling urban population, which is set to rise by more than 400 million people to 814 million by 2050. Here is a ready reckoner on the futuristic project, one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s big-ticket ideas to propel India into the league of developed nations.
What is a Smart City?
The term broadly denotes an urban area that provides world-class, sustainable infrastructure to give a decent quality of life to its citizens. Infrastructure will include uninterrupted clean water and power supply, gleaming roads, high-speed internet, automated waste disposal, sustainable public transport, affordable housing and digitised public services.
How does a city qualify?
The central government wants to cover 100 cities by 2020. Cities will compete on a variety of matrices, including urban reforms and their plan of action in four key areas -- Swachh Bharat, Make in India, good governance (modern accounting system, rationalisation of property taxes) and e-governance. Competing cities will offer ideas on how they plan to become smart which the Union ministry of urban development will then evaluate.
Who pays for all this?
The Centre and states will equally split the overall cost of the project estimated at Rs 96,000 crore. The central government will provide on an average Rs 100 crore per chosen city per year. The project cost of each smart city will vary depending upon the level of ambition, model, capacity to execute and repay.
What are the hurdles?
Raising funds is the key challenge as also is developing older cities with limited scope to overhaul. Heavily populated areas may need complete rebuilding which will then involve temporarily rehabilitating people and, in some cases, acquiring land.