Smart Cities Mission is not only about the implementation of projects. The Mission aims to build capacity of cities to think strategically about Urban Development, says Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary (Mission Director Smart Cities), Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, Government of India, in conversation with Ritika Srivastava of Elets News Network (ENN).
The Government of India has embarked upon the ambitious ‘Smart Cities Mission’ to transform India’s urban landscape. Please share the progress of this programme?
All 100 cities covered under the Mission have constituted their SPVs, appointed PMCs, and established their city level advisory forums. As part of their SCPs, 100 cities have proposed 5,151 projects worth Rs. 2,05,018 crores.
The pace of implementation of the Mission has increased significantly and is one of the fastest in terms of progress. From projects worth 33,970 crores tendered, and those worth 19,041 crores under implementation/completed in January 2018 the corresponding figures have increased by 288 percent and 355 percent as on March 2019. But Smart Cities Mission is not only about the implementation of these projects. The Mission aims to build capacity of cities to think strategically about Urban Development. It is setting a template for future development, establishing new institutions, concepts and developing institutional and professional capacity to make Indian cities cater to citizens needs in the best possible way.
How technology and innovations are playing an important role in providing services to the citizens under the Smart Cities Mission?
Smart cities are envisioned as cities that focus on improving the quality of lives of their citizens, thereby creating a robust environment for sustained economic growth and innovation. The cities have initiated projects to confront the major issues faced by the citizens and are at varying levels of progress.
In a very short period the results are very encouraging: Rajkot recorded an increase in on-line issuance of birth/death certificates, and through surveillance, crime rate has gone down; Improvement in traffic challans in Ahmedabad; Pune has installed flood sensors at key points around the city which feed data to the smart city centre, thereby, enabling timely warning and response mechanism; In Vishakhapatnam, CCTV and GPSenabled buses are being tracked online through the Smart City Centre; and Bhopal has seen a rise in its property tax collections and is able to track its transport services online.
Smart cities leverage ICT-based technologies and digitalisation to make governance citizen-friendly and cost effective; bring about accountability and transparency; provide services without having to go to municipal offices; form e-groups to listen to people and obtain feedback; and use online monitoring of programs and activities with the aid of online tools. By now, 16 Smart Cities have operationalised ICCCs; and work is in progress in another 55. Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCC) are helping cities in better urban planning and management. ICCCs function as single source of information and point of resolution of the civic functions of the city. They are bringing transparency through information sharing, a step towards becoming an inclusive city. Some of the ways ICCCs impact citizens’ lives are:
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