Noida: The Central government’s flagship project ‘The Smart Cities Mission’ is gradually accelerating in the past two years and it is now high time for the mission to get a further boost, which can be achieved by intensifying the attention of civic bodies on planning and implementation of the proposed projects. So far, a total of 90 winning cities have been shortlisted for the Smart City tag by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), including the recently-announced list of 30 cities in round 3.
The recent list includes important cities like Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Amaravathi, etc. The smart city label will enrich economic growth and infrastructure in these capital cities with an overlay of smart technologies. Especially, the Smart City Vision for Bengaluru, which is highly focused on making the city more livable with enhancements in safety, housing and infrastructure, slum rehabilitation, better linkages to transportation nodes and providing citizen centric e-governance and services. The city counts for about one third of the 40 million sq ft of total commercial absorption every year. The infrastructure development so far is unable to cope up with the city’s residential and commercial real estate growth. The smart city initiative may help to revive the congested localities, expand housing opportunities for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), improve neighborhood safety, promote e-governance, rejuvenate the economic centres, create best-in-class infrastructure facilities and provide integrated urban mobility options in the city.
“Active planning, adhering to scheduled timelines, collaborative effort of respective authorities, citizen engagement and effective use of fresh and innovative smart technologies will be critical to reach the ambitious objective of sustainable and inclusive smart cities soon,” said Joe Verghese, Managing Director, Colliers International India
After reaching the qualified list, the next step in the mission process includes setting up of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) and registration with Public Financial Managements (PFMs), appointment of Project Management Consultants (PMCs), implementation of critical reforms such as Value Capture Finance (VCF), credit rating, transaction advisor for issuance of municipal bonds and on ground implementation of the smart solutions for respective cities.
As per Colliers Research, the shortlisted cities should become more proactive in carrying out the next step for successful implementation of smart solutions as the mission has a determined target that needs to be reached within a timeline of 5 years.
Outlining the progress so far, most of the cities have framed the SPVs and 55 cities are in the process of appointing and engaging PMCs to aid in design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and knowledge management support for proposed smart projects. The list of the smart projects in the top 60 cities predominantly comprises of projects based on the affordable housing theme (73 projects), open space and riverfront development (159 projects) and App based smart solutions (24 projects). As per MoUD reports, 46 Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects of worth Rs 4200 crore in several smart cities are at various stages of tendering process, of which only 16 projects of worth Rs 1327 crore have already started implementation as on March 2017. Cities like Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Surat, Ahmedabad, Udaipur and Jaipur are being the smart frontrunners in terms of swift implementation of projects proposed.
Colliers Research believes that the major challenge in implementation is to execute the smart solutions in retrofitting model for Area Based Developments (ABD), which involves planning and implementing the smart solutions in already built-up and congested localities of the cities. Other challenges will also include the financial instability of most of the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), timely clearances for projects and co-ordination between the Central Government, State Governments and ULBs on various issues in financing and implementation.