Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project Smart Cities Mission aims to extensively modify the basic infrastructure of the existing Indian cities through guaranteed water/power supply, IT connectivity, better public transport, sanitation/waste management and well-organised urban mobility – which is expected to change the way cities operate in present times. Under PM Modi’s project, 100 cities (at present 99) will undergo a total citizen-friendly revamp. The Smart Cities Mission has been launched in the year of 2015 with total funding of Rs 98,000 crore. In the recent meeting of PM Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the “excellent cooperation programme” in three smart cities which are Chandigarh, Nagpur and Puducherry. Both the leaders signed the loan agreement between French development bank AFD and Union government of 100 million euros (around Rs 800 crore) in support of the Smart Cities Mission.
PM Modi and Macron also expressed satisfaction of the excellent Indo-French cooperation on sustainable cities and smart cities. This also marked various cases of innovation sharing and fruitful collaborations between French and Indian stakeholders. The Rs 800 crore financial aid from France’s AFD will help in the success story of Smart Cities Mission. AFD has been operating in India since 2008. The first 20 cities were identified under Smart Cities Mission in January 2016. In May 2016, 13 more cities were identified. In September 2016 and June 2017, 27 and 30 more cities were included in the third and fourth rounds respectively. In January 2018, 9 cities were selected in the fifth round which makes 99 in total.
Manoj Gaur, Vice President CREDAI-National & MD, Gaurs Group tells FE Online that “post the launch of the Smart Cities mission in the year 2015, there has not been any considerable work which has been witnessed on this front.” The government agencies are putting all their efforts to make the mission successful. Though there are challenges like any other huge infrastructural programmes. Gaur further added “to achieve the deadline of 2022 for the Smart Cities mission, the state governments and all other concerned bodies will have to work on a war footing wherein the committee formed will have to work in tandem with all bodies ensuring that there is no delay of any sorts with regards to approvals and clearances. Project layouts will have to be finalised at the earliest and funds sanctioned so that the groundwork can start.”
Since the time of planning, Smart Cities Mission should keep in view of challenges which can become a roadblock to the success of the mission. It is a huge infrastructural investment where government plays the most important role from planning to implementing and from getting resources to offer a sustainable environment to reside. Every city under the mission should be a place where people want to live. Land acquisition, implementation of contracts and getting proper approval from environmental management should be done on priority as this will ensure fast-tracking of the smart cities project.