The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) launched one of its flagship missions, the Smart Cities Mission, in July 2015. The mission’s aim is to improve the quality of life in Indian cities by applying smart solutions to provide core infrastructure services. These core services comprise adequate water supply, solid waste management, sewage and septage management, stormwater drainage development, energy efficiency, affordable housing, etc. Thus, the focus of the mission is sustainable and inclusive development of the country’s urban centres.
The MoHUA has adopted a challenge or competition method to select 100 cities under the mission. To date, 99 cities have been selected by the ministry. In Round I, 20 cities were selected, followed by 13 in the Fast Track Round, 27 in Round II and 30 in Round III. Recently, in January 2018, another nine cities were selected under Round IV of the mission.
Under Round IV, Silvassa from Dadar & Nagar Haveli emerged as the top ranked city. The other eight winning cities were Erode (Tamil Nadu), Diu (Daman & Diu), Biharsharif (Bihar), Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh), Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Moradabad and Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh), and Kavaratti (Lakshadweep).
Together these nine cities have proposed an investment of Rs 128.24 billion of which Rs 106.39 billion will be for area-based projects and Rs 21.85 billion for pan-city initiatives impacting a population of around 3.5 million. These cities have proposed the implementation of around 409 projects.
Of the funds required, the central and state governments will provide 61.25 per cent, 21.19 per cent will be made available through convergence with other schemes, 12.9 per cent will be arranged through public-private partnerships, 1.57 per cent through the urban local bodies’ own sources, and 0.09 per cent through other sources. With the selection of these nine cities, the total proposed investment for the 99 cities under the Smart Cities Mission is Rs 2,039.79 billion.
The strategic components of area-based development are retrofitting, city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension, that is, greenfield development. Retrofitting will introduce planning in an existing built-up area to achieve smart city objectives, along with other objectives, to make the existing area more liveable with more efficient services. Further, redevelopment will effect a replacement of the existing built-up environment and enable the co-creation of a new layout with enhanced infrastructure through mixed land use. Greenfield development will introduce most of the smart solutions in a previously vacant area of more than 250 acres using innovative planning, financing for the plans drawn up, and implementation tools for the same.
Pan-city development envisages the application of selected smart solutions to the existing city-wide infrastructure. This will involve the use of technology, information and data to make infrastructure and services better. It also envisages the setting up of integrated command control centres and information and communication technology-based municipal services.
Of the 90 cities selected under the earlier rounds, 85 have already incorporated their special purpose vehicles and 61 cities have engaged project management consultants (PMCs). Further, another eight cities are in various stages of hiring PMCs. Within two years, there has been an over 350 per cent increase in the value of completed projects and a 230 per cent increase in under-implementation projects over the past six months.
As of January 2018, around 2,948 projects worth Rs 1,387 billion are under various stages of implementation. Further, 189 projects worth Rs 22.37 billion have been completed, and implementation is under way for 495 projects worth Rs 186.16 billion. Also, tenders worth Rs 158.85 billion have been floated for 277 projects while detailed project reports are being prepared for 1,987 projects worth Rs 1,019.92 billion.
As far as priority sector interventions are concerned, 36 of the 60 cities (Round I, Fast Track Round and Round II) have already initiated the development of smart roads and 30 cities have initiated integrated command and control projects. In addition, 37 cities have initiated smart water projects and 44 cities have initiated solar projects. Architectural, landscaping and city beautification projects have been initiated in 40 cities.
Smart city centres have become operational in four cities – Pune, Surat, Vadodara and Kakinada – and work is in progress in another 18 cities. Further, tenders to develop such smart city centres have been issued in another 11 cities. With regard to street redesign projects, 32 cities have issued tenders and work has begun in 17 of them. Similarly, for smart reuse and wastewater projects, 33 cities have issued tenders, and work has begun in 16 cities. In order to promote the use of renewable energy, projects totalling 250 MW of solar installations on rooftops of government buildings are already completed. Till date, 44 cities have issued tenders for solar projects and work has begun in 38 cities. Most of these cities have completed their projects.
The way forward
The Smart Cities Mission will go a long way in developing core infrastructure services in India’s urban centres. City planners are also thinking in terms of converging the objectives, resources and processes of different projects taken up by various agencies towards the realisation of a common vision. This also creates opportunities for various stakeholders such as project developers, equipment providers and pipeline manufacturers to benefit from these developments.