The Blueprint prepared by the Centre drives down the Smart Cities Initiative in 100 cities. India’s Mission for Smart Cities took off on a very positive note and has stayed consistent. As Prime Minister, Narendra Modi puts it that through, an inter-connected approach and with an increased public participation, cities need to be strengthened. This new urbanisation should be considered as an opportunity too. The Smart Cities initiative is being faced with rather novel challenges now. An aspect that goes largely behind the scenes is the city planner’s plan. Their role is far too important and their plans also need to be addressed with a critical eye. For example, one may build a connected city as far as security and even traffic regulation is concerned, but, the impetus received to the segment needs to sustain the city for at least the next ten years. Here is where ‘future-retrospective’ planning would come into place.
No, it is not just future planning, the plan must set a new paradigm for the current township while also boosting them positively and surviving the next ten years. Here, sustainability is the key. With the disruptive technologies in the market, it is crucial as to which one is picked up for execution at the current time.
The ‘smart’ city planning goes much beyond the infrastructure. Municipal bodies and planners work very closely through the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). During a change in the rule, such processes should not lose their sight, at the end of the day, they are meant to be for the long-term benefit of the city. A change in power can severely affect the momentum and strategy to achieve these projects too. Also, the administration system needs to be strengthened and this can only be possible through the medium of law. For example, during the execution stage- a tender has to receive many clearances such as the special ones required from the Green Tribunal, or for development in military areas and near Heritage structures. This needs to be further defined and streamlined as they severely affect the timeline set to the projects too. It is important to address the challenges faced by the developers, to make even the planning a ‘smart’ process.
The city also needs to be perceived from the view of all stakeholders and users. While, the smart initiative is a boost, it needs to be affordable. Hence, the planners need to closely look into another important aspect and that is of revenue models while planning new infrastructure systems.
Long-term returns should come in, directly through the medium of money for the municipality and constituency at large. Efficiency remains the key to the movement backed with the support of governing law. There is a stronger need for consolidated effort. However, being able to afford these facilities and even being able to sustain them in the light of fast-changing technologies along with the perceived growth of population will severely determine the outcome of the movement.
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