Mission Update: Some progress made, but miles to go

Some progress made, but miles to go

The Smart Cities Mission (SCM) was launched by the government in June 2015, with the objective of providing core infrastructure in Indian cities and ensuring a decent quality of life to its citizens through the deployment of smart and innovative solutions.

These smart solutions are based on six key themes: sustainable mobility, solid waste management, water and wastewater management, housing, energy, and safety and security. A total of 100 cities have been selected under four rounds of bidding under the SCM. The projects being developed entail a total cost of over Rs 2 trillion, with over Rs 1.6 trillion being allocated for area-based development (ABD) projects and the balance for pan-city projects.

Mission round-up

The progress of projects under the mission has been sluggish since its launch in 2015. So far, projects worth Rs 100 billion have been completed. This translates into 5 per cent project completion in a span of three years. Further, bids for projects worth around Rs 840 billion have been invited and implementation of projects worth close to Rs 498 billion has started.

Cities selected under the first two rounds of the mission have made significant headway. Among the Round I cities, Visakhapatnam had completed about 40 per cent (21 projects) of the proposed works as of October 2018. Further, 32 per cent of the projects are under execution and 17 per cent of the projects are currently at the bidding stage. Tirupati which was selected under Round II of the mission has completed 7 per cent of its projects. Further, 20 per cent of the projects are under execution and 27 per cent of the projects are under tendering.

Meanwhile, cities selected under Round III and Round IV of the mission are yet to make significant progress. For instance, Bareilly which was selected under Round IV of the mission has begun work on 20 projects at a cost of Rs 20 billion. However, none of the projects have been completed.

Uptick in activity

Innovative technology-led initiatives are being implemented across cities. Some cities such as Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Surat, Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai have launched initiatives for the deployment of advanced communications systems, intelligent transit management systems, smart meters, GIS and GPRS for solid waste management, online billing systems, mobile-based complaint redressal systems, etc. Ten cities have commissioned integrated command and control centres (ICCs) to provide a single interface for multiple solutions. Pune and Nagpur were the first cities to launch an ICC on June 25, 2017 marking two years of the the mission. Bhopal became the first city to launch a multicity ICC in May 2018. The ICC allows the Madhya Pradesh state administration to monitor and administer multiple city civic utilities and citizen services across seven smart cities in Madhya Pradesh – Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Satna and Sagar. Other cities such as Surat and Vadodara have also set up their ICCs, and cities like Kota are following suit.

Further, Nagpur has laid optic fibre cable networks under a pan-city project. About 3,800 CCTVs are proposed to be installed, of which 700 had already been installed till October 2018. Under the e-governance component, a city operations centre is being set up. As of October 2018, 25 of the 65 proposed kiosks had been set up.

Bhubaneswar launched Phase I of the “Bhubaneswar Me Wi-Fi” project in November 2018 making it a Wi-Fi-enabled city. Intelligent traffic solutions have been launched in a number of cities. For instance, Bhopal’s intelligent traffic management system which was launched in the first half of 2018 had issued over 35,000 challans by October 2018. Further, Pune was selected in October 2018 as India’s first city for setting up an urban mobility lab. The lab is being set up by the Rocky Mountain Institute in collaboration with NITI Aayog. Intelligent street lighting and smart poles are also being adopted under the mission. Bhopal is in the process of installing 400 smart poles on a public-private partnership basis. These poles will host 20,000 intelligent LED lights, 400 surveillance cameras, 400 digital signages, etc.

Further, cities are being encouraged to undertake project development. For instance, cities which had developed breakthrough projects such as the Safe and Secure Ahmedabad Project in Ahmedabad and the B-Nest Incubation Centre in Bhopal were awarded the India Smart Cities Award 2018 in June 2018.

The road ahead

The mission has achieved a level of maturity that allows the government to focus on accelerating implementation. The SCM will go a long way in developing core infrastructure services in India’s urban centres. This also creates opportunities for various stakeholders such as project developers and equipment providers. The majority of the opportunities both in terms of number of projects and investments will be offered under Round III. Rounds I, II and Fast Track cities offer immediate opportunity in projects that are at the detailed project report preparation stage.