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India’s Smart Cities Mission gains momentum and provides a holistic approach to urbanisation

India’s Smart Cities Mission gains momentum and provides a holistic approach to urbanisation

Hardeep Singh Puri , Minister of State (Independent
Charge) Housing and Urban Affairs, gave a glowing review of the smart cities
movement
 launched by India in 2016
while speaking at the opening of the First
Apex Conference for CEOs of Smart Cities
on 8 May 2018.

Established by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,
the Smart City Mission is India’s program
for comprehensive and systematic transformation through planned urbanisation
has been lauded as one of the flagship missions of the Housing and Urban
Affairs Ministry under the current regime. Minister Puri assured that all
current redevelopment projects are on the way to achieve completion before the
stipulated dates and are setting new benchmarks in India for project
implementation.

With the inauguration of its Integrated
Control and Command Center on 8 May 2018, Bhopal Smart City in Govindpura became
the 9th Smart City Center in India. Following quickly behind, Minister Puri
said that all the 7 smart cities in Madhya Pradesh will be established in the
next two months, and pointed out that the Smart Cities mission was gaining
momentum in other states too. In addition to the 9 operational cities, work is
already in progress to create Smart City Centers in 14 cities while tenders
have already been issued for development in 32 more cities.

The size and scope of these projects have
also been steadily increasing. The value of projects under implementation in
August 2017 was about Rs. 8,000 crore, within eight months this increased to
more than Rs. 30,000 crore involving 936 projects. Around 400 projects costing
Rs. 20,000 crore are in the tender stage and are expected to be confirmed over the
next 3 months. He added that 98 projects costing Rs. 6000 crore are under
implementation with Public Private Partnerships and are getting good responses both
in big cities and smaller towns. In the last eight months 26 more Special
Purpose Vehicles (SPV) were established, taking the total SPVs to 91 and total
number of Project Management Consultants to 67.

Minister Puri also advised that Indian
smart cities should take the lead from the experience and best practices of
other cities around the world to accelerate the progress locally. He suggested
that smart city developments need to take a holistic approach to urbanisation
and bring on board expertise from various domains. In achieving that, he
announced that 9 advisory committees have been set up for — smart education and
skill development, urban mobility and climate change, smart security,
entrepreneurship and start-ups, septage and sewage management, promotion of
public art, arts and culture, women’s empowerment, safety, and security, and Divyang
friendly measures and policy recommendations.

To bring these themes to the fore and
promote discussion, the Apex Conference served as a forum for Smart City CEOs
to share their experiences in creating these synergies in their respective
developments. The conference  featured
panels on modelling digitally integrated Smart City Centers, bonds and private-public
partnerships for financing urban infrastructure, the development of walkable
streets, creation of universally accessible public spaces, creating vibrant
urban spaces under area-based development, and establishing inclusivity in the
new cities.

The conference was organised to inspire
greater momentum in the Smart City Mission by promoting cross-learning and
sharing between various city development teams from all over India. Attended by
representatives from 77 smart city projects, the conference also featured Principal
Secretaries (Uttar Pradesh), State Mission Directors, Municipal Commissioners, overseas
Ambassadors, UN representatives, heads of multilateral/bilateral agencies, CEOs
of major Master System Indicator vendors, civil societies, and capacity
building institutes.

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