Budget 2019: What lies ahead for Modi govt’s Smart City Mission under Digital India?

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Updated: Jul 05, 2019 9:31 AM

Budget 2019 India: A lot is riding on the Union Budget 2019 as it opens up new streams for the Smart City Mission, especially concerning the private companies under the Digital India programme.

Budget 2019-20: The major players are now echoing the sentiment that Modi government shared at the inception of the programme.Budget 2019-20: The major players are now echoing the sentiment that Modi government shared at the inception of the programme.

Union Budget 2019 India: In 2015, Modi government, in its maiden term, launched the vision to create a technologically-advanced ecosystem for Indian cities, amid a cheerful uproar. It was termed the Smart City Mission and it has seen huge investments since then. According to the estimates reported by the central agencies responsible for undertaking the project of smartening up, 897 projects are underway with an infusion of Rs 14,847 crore. On July 5, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the new outlay for the Smart City Mission under its Digital India programme.

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While the project encompasses a 360-degree facelift of major cities under the government’s watch, there are partner companies that are equally involved. An outlay of Rs 13,900 crore was allotted in the interim budget, which is expected to be revised considering the propensity of the government towards digitisation of the country. This underscores the participation of private players in the programme. With a leap of about 182 per cent, the engagement of private firms has increased manifold. So far, 15 per cent of the total of 21 per cent under the PPP proposal to finance the project has been carried out.

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A lot is riding on the Union Budget 2019 as it opens up new streams for the Smart City Mission, especially concerning the private companies under the Digital India programme. The major players are now echoing the sentiment that Modi government shared at the inception of the programme.

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Rajiv Bhalla, managing director at Barco India, believes that the Smart City Mission is a “key priority” and that Union Budget 2019 will create “favourable, predictable, and innovation-friendly climate” for the participating businesses. “It will also be exciting to see what the new Finance Minister has in submission to individuals and corporates. Boosting economic growth surely being one of the centrifugal factors, we look forward to how the ministry details out the roadmap to encourage more and more players to explore the possibility of manufacturing within India,” Bhalla told Financial Express Online ahead of the unveiling of the Budget on July 5.

Along the same lines, cybersecurity has emerged as one of the top concerns that needs to be addressed head-to-head. The process of digitising cities needs a concrete mechanism that is efficient enough to circumvent the fallouts caused by cyber threats. A vigilant eye towards the overhaul of the security of the Smart City Mission at its core is the need of the hour.

“With the rapid digital transformation happening across industries, the cybersecurity concerns have also risen significantly. It is hence imperative for the government to ensure data privacy of Indian citizens, so that they are truly empowered to use IT infrastructure and e-governance services,” Saurabh Saxena, Country Director, Micro Focus India, said while enlisting his expectations from the Union Budget 2019.

For what it’s worth, the government’s vision of Smart City Mission is set to expand to more cities in the coming years. The estimates shared by the government paint an optimistic picture of where the project is heading four years after it was conceived by the Modi government.

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