Is the kickstart of Smart Cities mission just an illusion? As per a recent report, only five percent of the proposed projects have been completed, so far. And the only progress has been seen in small cities.
The report stated that only two percent of the Rs 9,943 crores released under the Smart Cities mission have been utilized so far. The figures certainly pose a question on the ambitious plan of developing 100 smart cities by 2022.
As a matter of fact, many of the big cities proposed under the Smart Cities project are already saturated. Apart from that, implementation of the Smart Cities plan is not coming across as a piece of cake. There are various bottlenecks, including land acquisition, buy-in from resistant stakeholders, among others, which are preventing the speedy implementation of these projects, the report said.
“Apart from the slow implementation, it is also a fact that smart citizens are an integral part of the smart city ecosystem,” Housing.com quoted ANAROCK Property Consultants’ vice-chairman, Santhosh Kumar, as saying. “With more active citizen participation in such government initiatives at the implementation and not only end-user level, the pace of smart city development in India could theoretically be faster.”
The Smart Cities Mission, launched in 2015, aims to tackle the escalating problems being faced in urban areas with regards to transportation, energy supply, governance, basic urban infrastructure services and overall quality of life. The idea was to ease the pressure of overpopulation due to urban migration in Tier-1 cities while creating more sustainable employment-friendly Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
The report further shows that it is the small cities here that have emerged as clear winners and shown visible progress. In the recent smart city rankings by the Ministry of Urban Development, the tier-2 smart cities of Nagpur, Vadodara, and Ahmedabad topped the charts, leaving behind tier-1 cities such as Pune and Chennai.
It is clear that the smaller cities with more determined local authority and lesser red tape can push the required reforms as compared to metro cities. In fact, real estate experts reportedly believe that the country will have 104 tier 2 cities and 331 tier 3 and 4 cities by 2030, and only 155 tier 1 cities by 2030.
Overall, it is safe to say that the Smart Cities program has not really unfolded as was initially expected and even hoped for.