Smart Cities

How SMART city project and AMRUT is different from earlier programs?

Earlier Mayors were bystanders. Now they are given major responsibility  of designing and implementing projects


Previous urban development schemes had rendered them powerless and they were reduced to mere bystanders watching the central government handing over projects to State ministers. As the new set of urban policies — Smart City Mission, Swachh Bharat Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) — claim to transfer powers of designing and building cities to municipalities, the shift has been overwhelming.


The mandate, sidelining State ministries, establishes direct contact between the municipal bodies and the Urban Development Ministry, and the coordination assures easy access to central funding with minimum bureaucratic delays. On the other hand, the municipal commissioners, who are trained to administer the city services, are struggling to make the transition from being armchair bureaucrats to on-ground managers, tasked with designing solutions to meet peoples’ “aspirations”.


Issues in Smart Cities Mission:


  • Major reliance on Private sector funding.


For the entire mission, the Centre has asked the States to generate half the funding (Rs. 48,000 crore) through public-private partnerships. And mayors are encouraged to use their political clout to attract private investors.

Much to their dismay, private investors refused to come forward. Out of 2,900 JNNURM projects, only 50 projects were backed by the public-private-partnership (PPP) model, with a private sector capital investment of just about Rs. 1,000 crore, which barely covered 0.2 per cent of the total project cost.

  1. Convergence: There are multiple policies for urban India: the Swachh Bharat Mission, Housing for All, National Urban Livelihoods Mission; the National Urban Information System; and the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY),etc. The Smart Cities Mission’s convergence with all these schemes is not known
  2. Mission gives more say to SPV rather than to elected local government defying intent of 74th CAA
  3. 20 initial cities selected under mission are adopting area based approach. It will lead to development of few pockets creating islands of development in ocean of backward areas.




Critically analyse the objectives and design of recently launched Smart Cities Mission and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). Do you think such schemes will be effective in addressing fundamental problems of urbanization? Comment. (200 Words)


Smart cities:

  1. Are those cities which have smart/intelligent physical, social, institutional and economic infrastructure while ensuring centrality of citizens in a sustainable manner. It focuses on : solid waste management, water management, public transport, green energy, e-health, e-literacy, traffic lights, electricity supply etc. controlled through IT.
  2. It will be implemented through area based approach which includes – retrofitting, redevelopment, pan-city initiative and development of new cities.
  3. SPV will be set up for their implementation. PPP model will be used for mobilising private investment.


AMRUT (Atal mission for rejuvenation and urban transformation)

  1. It is the new avatar of JNNURM and focuses on – water supply, sewerage, storm water drains, transport, development of green spaces and parks. 10 % of budget allocation will be given to states/UTs as incentive based on achievement of reforms during previous year.
  2. In a significant departure, states will have more flexibility as centre will not appraise individual projects.
  3. It will lay the foundation to enable the cities to eventually grow into smart cities. It will be implemented at 500 locations.


Critical analysis:

Projects will face challenges like – presence of large slums, limited scope of expanding roads and bridges in the midst of cities, data intrusion and hacking, displacement of population and land acquisition problems. No mention of increase in floor space index in cities. There is no mention of earthquake resistant design of buildings in smart city concept. Problems of Urban Sprawl, Urban Crimes find no mention in the above two schemes.


But, existing cities are unable to bear extra load of migrants and by 2050, 70 % of world population will be in cities. It also offers opportunity for faster growth as they such cities become magnets for investments. Experts say, it can generate employment for at least 2,00,000 people per city and usher in unprecedented economic growth.




Critically examine how different is India’s ‘Smart City’ concept from that of West’s or US’? Also examine drawbacks of these concepts. (200 Words)


Our smart cities-

  1. Our concept of smart cities is based on renovation rather than on innovation.
  2. We are improving and restructuring our cities based upon new demands.
  3. The support of foreign countries is being sought in developing our cities.
  4. Our cities are not well planned in the past. And hence things become more complicated.


West’s smart cities

  1. They are well planned since the beginning.
  2. Their smart cities are surrounded by satellite cities they reduce stress on urbanization.
  3. Grid pattern is well followed.


Pit falls in our concepts-

  1. Our local governments have limited say in reshaping our cities.
  2. Local problems may not be addressed effectively due to up-down approach.
  3. We give less emphasis on making of satellite cities and PURA. This adds stress on urbanization process.
  4. We have unique challenges like large scale slums, limited finances and web like city planning.
  5. There is limited scope for expanding our roads and bridges in the mid of our cities.
  6. Foreign assistance may charge more costs.

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