It is for the first time in the world that Smart Cities are being selected through competition. An ambitious game changer that seeks to transform the cities into sustainable centres of economic activity, providing an improved quality of life
On June 25, 2015 Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that urbanisation should be viewed as an opportunity and urban centres should be viewed as growth engines.
Exactly after seven months on January 28, the PM’s ambitious project of ‘100 Smart Cities’ has finally begun to take shape as the first list of 20 Smart Cities to be developed in Bharat was announced.
The top 20 cities led by Bhubaneshwar as number one, to be made in the first list based on a competition, followed by ranking are (according to the rank): Bhubaneshwar, Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur, Visakhapatnam, Solapur, Davanagere, Indore, New Delhi Municiplal Corporation (NDMC), Coimbatore, Kakinada, Belagavi (Belgaum), Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana and Bhopal.
The Smart City initiative is an ambitious game changer that seeks to transform the cities and towns into sustainable centres of economic activity, providing an improved quality of life to the citizens. These existing cities will be remodelled into Smart Cities by using technology-enabled solutions and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) intervention.
“This mission marks the end of 'business as usual approach to urban development in the country followed so far and instead, the Smart City Challenge requires cities to come up with integrated plans and proposals– maximum analysis, planning, coordination and minimum delays. The mission marks the beginning of ‘Bottom Up’ approach as against capitals-driven ‘Top Down’ approach followed so far,” said Union Minister for Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu, while releasing a booklet—‘Smart City: Mission Transformation’ on January 28 in New Delhi.
To compete in the ‘Smart City Challenge’, the cities prepared proposals based on SWOT analysis with detailed assessment of strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats specific to the city and the areas chosen for development. The participating cities penned strategies for implementation with an identification of partnerships and collaborations that would produce desired results.
“The aim of making the selection process tough was to pick up the best of the lot. The Centre (Urban Development ministry) had the least intervention in the entire process. Everything was done by the local civic bodies and the States, and the plan was forwarded to the Centre; that’s why we’re calling it ‘Bottom Up’ approach. It’s interesting to note that Bharateeya consulting firms have stood up to the intense competition from foreign companies and their Bharateeya associates in respect of guiding the mission cities in preparation of smart city plans.”
However, none of the cities from major states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, etc could make it in the first list.
“Those states who missed the bus in the first phase, have been a deadline up to April 15 to upgrade respective proposals and submit. We’re giving them another chance,” said Naidu.
The results of the competition revealed the unrecognised strength of the federal structure (Centre-States-Local Bodies) in our country. The ministry only did a degree of hand holding offering clarifications on concepts as and when required.
“This mission reflects our PM’s vision of bringing total transformation of the country. This will open up opportunities and create jobs. That’s why Planning Commission has been rebranded as NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog,” the minister added.