India's Smart Cities: Mission Progress

  Aug 25, 2023

India's Smart Cities Mission and its Progress

Q1: What is the Smart Cities Mission in India?

A1: The Smart Cities Mission is a government initiative launched in 2015 with the goal of transforming selected cities into smart, modern, and technology-enabled urban centers that provide better quality of life for residents.

Q2: How were cities selected for the Smart Cities Mission?

A2: The selection of cities for the Smart Cities Mission was based on a competitive process where city bureaucrats presented their pitches, and cities were selected by the Ministry of Urban Affairs. The goal was to select 100 cities for transformation.

Q3: What was the original target completion date for the Smart Cities Mission?

A3: The Smart Cities Mission was initially supposed to be completed by June 2021.

Q4: What are the key components of the Smart Cities Mission?

A4: The Smart Cities Mission involves various projects aimed at urban modernization, including technology upgradation, infrastructure development, mass transportation, and civic infrastructure improvement.

Q5: How many projects were sanctioned under the Smart Cities Mission, and what was their value?

A5: As per a report submitted to Parliament, around 7,804 projects worth over `1.8 lakh crore were sanctioned in 100 cities under the Smart Cities Mission.

Q6: What progress has been made in completing the projects under the Smart Cities Mission?

A6: The progress in completing projects under the Smart Cities Mission has been mixed. While a report card submitted to Parliament showcased a positive picture, a parliamentary committee noted that many 'smart cities' had failed to achieve their targets by January 2023.

Q7: What challenges have impacted the completion of projects under the Smart Cities Mission?

A7: Challenges in completing projects include delays, misleading statistics, and attempts to manufacture completion rates by focusing on smaller, quicker projects to meet deadlines.

Q8: How does India's approach to the Smart Cities Mission differ from international standards?

A8: Internationally, 'smart cities' focus on technology-driven improvements to urban infrastructure and efficiency. India's Smart Cities Mission, while including technology, also encompasses a broader city modernization program.

Q9: What are the criticisms of India's Smart Cities Mission?

A9: The Smart Cities Mission in India has faced several criticisms, primarily centered around the lack of clarity in defining the concept of a 'smart city' and the challenges posed by the country's urbanization dynamics. Two main criticisms are as follows:
Lack of Clear Definition: One of the primary criticisms of India's Smart Cities Mission is the absence of a universally accepted and well-defined concept of what constitutes a 'smart city.' This has led to ambiguity in project selection and implementation. Without a clear framework, different cities interpret the concept differently, resulting in a wide range of projects and goals that may not align with the overall objectives of creating truly technology-driven and efficient urban spaces.
Mismatch with Urban Growth: India's rapid and often unplanned urban growth presents a significant challenge to the Smart Cities Mission. Many cities in India face issues such as inadequate infrastructure, lack of affordable housing, and limited civic amenities. The focus of the mission on technology-led modernization can sometimes neglect the fundamental challenges that cities are grappling with, leading to a mismatch between the mission's goals and the actual needs of the urban population.
Overall, the criticisms highlight the need for a more coherent and comprehensive approach to urban transformation that considers not only technological advancements but also the basic needs of urban residents and the unique challenges posed by India's urbanization process.

Q10: What are the broader challenges faced by Indian cities?

A10: Indian cities face challenges related to infrastructure, affordable housing, public transportation, and civic amenities. Urban transformation requires comprehensive efforts to address these issues.

Q11: How does India's capital spending on cities compare internationally?

A11: India's capital spending on cities is significantly lower than that of many other countries. The need for capital expenditure to transform cities is substantial, given the country's urbanization trends.

Q12: What is the outlook for India's Smart Cities Mission?

A12: The Smart Cities Mission, in its current form, faces challenges in meeting its objectives and transforming cities holistically. There is a need for more focused and comprehensive efforts to address urbanization issues in India.


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