One Year Later: Smart Cities In India Are Far From Reality


Back in 2015, When India’s Prime Minister Modi announced Smart City project, the target was to create 100 smart cities. According to reports, these cities would have intelligent transit management system, smart street poles, e-pathshalas and much more to simplify life of people and set an ideal for other cities to follow. On 2nd July 2016, it was announced that 9 more cities will be added into these cities.

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Now that it has been more than one year since the smart city project was started, it is a good time to take a look at what has been done, what needs to be done and what are biggest challenges for the project.

Current State: 

In the last one year, some work has been done, however, the Smart Cities in India project is still in a pilot phase. Implementing the ideas of project looks more on paper than on reality. The problem being the appalling infrastructure.

Before other phases of project could be started, there is a lot to deal with in reality and there is a need for improvement in infrastructure.

Also Read: Current state of IoT in India

Biggest Challenges for Smart Cities in India: 

The road to building these 109 Smart Cities is not easy. Government has to deal with more than one problem in creating smart cities in India. Here are 4 biggest ones:

  1. Funding: Each Smart City will receive 500 Crore over the period of 5 years by Central Government. The state Governments are also required to match the contribution of Central Govt. But the issue is this amount is not sufficient. Currently various stakeholders are working out ways to create a self-sufficient and sustainable fund to be able to take the smart cities out from pilot phase to the execution and completion phase.Many private firms are coming forward to fund the initiatives but there needs to be a proper process and channel in which this can be streamlined.
  2. Technical know how: Many new technologies mentioned in the project are still in Pilot phase and using them is expensive. Also, a lot of technology is borrowed from other countries which is making it expensive to use. Overall, these technological limitations are increasing the cost and hindering the success of Smart City project. Challenge also lies in technology discovery and the need for a medium which can bring the technology users and the technology creaters onto a single platform for faster adoptions.
  3. Regulation and Governance Problem: PPP format of the project and lots of investors result into a large list of stake holders in the project. There is a strong need of a separate legal framework in case any legal issues emerge at any stage of the mission. Project big as this require effective communication between Central government, state government and the local governments. To complete the project in time, there might be need of statutory bodies which can provide quick approvals and process the projects to ensure that no resources, assets and time goes to waste.
  4. Lack of Infrastructure: A Smart City has to be built on two layers; the underlying layer is infrastructure while technology works as the top layer. According to the 2011’s study of cities by Ministry, almost 50% urban areas don’t have water supply connections.  Sewage is also a big problem as almost 30% households in cities don’t have toilets.  Fixing these problems is must before working on the other layer. Improving infrastructure is going to be one of the biggest challenges for authorities.

What do you think about Smart Cities in India project? Share your views in comments below.



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