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Smart Cities should aim at enhancing quality of urban life

Learning from the experience of implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the new urban development initiatives should aim at improving the quality of urban life in the country by addressing the chronic urban problems and by going beyond provision of just infrastructure. This broad view has emerged at the two day long brain storming session chaired by the Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M Venkaiah Naidu. During the discussions that concluded today, various aspects of urban development including the Smart Cities initiative were taken up for critical examination. 


Union Minister of Power Shri Piyush Goyal, Members of Parliament – Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Shri Jyothiraditya Scindia, Shri Baijayant Panda and Shri Rajiv Chandrasekhar also shared their perspectives. Shri Shankar Aggarwal, Secretary (Urban Development), Smt Anita Agnihotri, Secretary (Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation), senior officials of the two ministries besides experts participated in the two day long deliberations. 


While reviewing the progress on conceptualization of the ‘Smart Cities’ initiative, Shri Naidu stressed that the focus of this project should be to enhance quality of urban life through an integrated approach to urban planning and execution besides ensuring ‘inclusivity’. 

Shri Piyush Goyal suggested that solid waste management, cleanliness etc., should be addressed on priority for immediate impact. Referring to development of smart cities, he said that four or five such projects could be offered to states which have ready land availability. 


Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy noted that the six dimensions of smart cities should be smart governance, smart mobility, smart environment, smart ecology, smart people and smart living. He said based on the learnings of experience of some Asian and other developed countries, India specific model need to be evolved. 

Shri Baijayant Panda observed that emerging towns should be included under Smart Cities initiative aimed at energy efficiency, clustering of infrastructure and efficient management and governance ensuring inter-sectoral linkages. 


Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia suggested development of ‘counter magnet cities’ to spread urbanization to new areas. He noted that state governments need to play a pro-active role in addressing urban challenges. He suggested that small towns and cities that are not handicapped by ‘legacy’ issues like congestion and limited land availability could be chosen first to be developed as smart cities. 


Shri Rajiv Chandrasekhar said that though JNNURM had laudable objectives, it failed to develop a single ‘model city’ and this experience should be taken into account while devising new urban development schemes. He said, under JNNURM, central government ended up merely supporting asset creation. He suggested that the central government should play the role of a ‘catalyst’ in the new scheme of things. He stressed the need for city specific long term statutory development plans for assured outcomes. Shri Chandrasekhar also stressed the need to go beyond provision of infrastructure to ensure efficient delivery of public services to the urban people. He noted that the spirit of 74th Amendment to the Constitution empowering urban local bodies should be realized in full measure for urban development initiatives to be meaningful. 


As a starting point for the discussions, Shri Shankar Aggarwal, Secretary (Urban Development), in his presentation outlined that a ‘Smart City’ could be one with technology based governance that enables efficient public services and has 24 x 7 water and power supply, 100% sewerage, drainage and solid waste management facilities besides top class infrastructure. He further noted that to mobilize the required resources, funding through Public-Private Partnership, Multi-lateral agencies, Viability Gap Funding by the central government can be explored. 


After detailed deliberations, Shri Venkaiah Naidu directed the Ministry officials to prepare Notes for Cabinet at the earliest, based on the learnings of JNNURM implementation, inputs/suggestions received during the two day brainstorming session and from other sources. He suggested that there could be two different schemes – one for renewal of 500 urban habitations and the other for ‘Smart Cities’. The 500 habitations are to be provided with safe drinking water, sewerage management and use of recycled water, solid waste management and digital connectivity as mentioned in the General Budget for 2014-15. 

 

     
Others | 2014/07/31 by Bharat Vasandani