On 9 July, the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister
Mr Hardeep Singh Puri inaugurated Smart Cities fellowship and internship
programmes that, he said, are expected to provide the youth with opportunities
to experience various aspects of urban planning and governance. He also
launched Local Area Plans (LAP) and Town Plan Schemes (TPS) for 25 cities in
the country, under which the Ministry will provide IN ₹2.0 crores (around US $291,240)
as central financial assistance to every city for planned urban expansion.
According to an official statement
released by the Ministry, while addressing a press conference, Mr
Hardeep Singh Puri said that the Smart Cities
Digital Payment Award that was announced on 9 July, was created with
the intent to promote the Prime Minister’s ‘Digital India’ initiative. Digital
India was developed to digitally empower Indian citizens, and through the Smart
City Mission increase the efficiency of financial transactions for India’s
urban residents by promoting digital payments.
Smart Cities are
a part of the Smart City Mission that was initiated on 25 June 2015. Using
technology, Smart Cities improve quality of life, generate employment and
increase the efficiency of local bodies, public services, and the overall
management of city infrastructure. Nine
Integrated Command & Control Centres are already operational in
the cities of Ahmedabad, Kakinada, Visakhapatnam, Nagpur, Pune, Rajkot, Surat,
Vadodara and Bhopal.
The Ministry has encouraged Smart Cities to increase the use
of digital payment methods; the India Interface for Money (Bharat Interface for Money) and
the RuPay scheme
are two digital payment methods that the Prime Minister launched under the
Digital India initiative. The Bharat Interface for Money is a mobile app
developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), based on the
Unified Payment Interface; the RuPay initiative is an Indian domestic card scheme
that was also developed and launched by the NCPI.
During the press conference, Mr Hardeep Singh Puri said that
the Smart Cities Digital Payments Awards 2018 only aim is to guide, motivate,
recognise and reward the Smart Cities for promoting digital payments and
carrying out innovative payment initiatives in their respective cities.
According to the release, for evaluation purpose, the Smart Cities
will be divided into four different categories based on their population. The
Local Area Plan (LAP) and Town Planning Scheme (TPS) will be implemented in 25
selected cities on a pilot basis. The scheme will enable the selected cities to
formulate local area-based plans and town planning schemes for which financial central
assistance will be made available.
The press release said that under India Smart Cities
Internship (ISCI) Programme, the Ministry will engage students pursuing
undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate degrees as interns to help with the
implementation of a number of digital projects in states around the country.
The Smart Cities Fellowship Program is designed to provide valuable
experience to the youth that is particularly interested in Smart Cities, and the
urban sector in general and will bring in new ideas and solutions to the
challenging but crucial work of implementing state-of-the-art technology and
efficient and cost-effective strategies to solve urban problems.
According to the Ministry, 30 graduates, post-graduates
and PhD-holders in the fields of urban planning, urban design, engineering, IT
(Information and Technology), urban mobility, finance, and environmental issues
will be able to participate in the fellowship programmes. The participants will
be given experience certificates at the end of the programme.