100 Smart Cities in India by 2022 – “Mission Possible” under Modi 2.0?

“100 Smart Cities Mission” was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 25, 2015, and was received with much jubilation. 

As this program is an initiative by the NDA government in the previous run, with a thumping majority in their 2nd innings too, Modi 2.0 is expected to even more strongly propel this mission forward. However, there are several challenges ahead for the grand vision to materialize as scheduled. 

The implementation at the state level has to amplify to the national level. The 17th Lok Sabha elections sprung some surprises, resulting in a change in the dynamics between the central government and some of the state governments – some projects may now fast forward while others may go slo-mo for various reasons.

100 cities were selected over 4 rounds between Jan 2016 and Jan 2018 based on the “Smart Cities Challenge”, where cities competed first in a state-wide, followed by a countrywide competition. 28 states (excluding West Bengal) and 7 union territories (UTs) are a part of the Smart City Mission (SCM).

Smart City Mission

The Smart City Mission (SCM) states the guidelines for Smart City identification, development and implementation. It is touted to be one of the most transformation urban missions with an objective to provide a better quality of life for citizens. The first 20 Smart Cities, known as ‘20 Lighthouse Cities’, were selected way back in 2016. 

The Financial Outlay

There was a 54.2% hike in the budget allocation for SCM during 2018-19, which adds up to a total Investment of Rs 2,03,979 crores (US$2,939 crores) for all the Smart Cities over the entire period.

Out of this, for each smart city, central government provides Rs 500 crores and state governments contribute a matching share. The city projects can also converge with other Government schemes. For example, core infrastructure projects for an entire city can be taken up under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and/or Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY). In addition, an area-based (Smart City) development strategy could be taken up under SCM. 

Financial aid is scheduled by the central and state governments between 2017-2022. A minimum of 5 years has been given for each city to be completed. Based on the funding period, they are expected to be completed by 2022. The next 3 years will prove critical to be able to measure the program’s effectiveness. 

Implementation of SCM

Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) are the implementing agency for the SCM. From forming SPVs to tendering, there are several stages involved and as per officials, it takes close to a year to just complete the pre-work. 

Smart Command and Control Centre (ICCC) for each city is vital to enable authorities to monitor and control the status of various amenities like online water and power supply, sanitation, traffic movement, integrated building management, city connectivity and Internet infrastructure. As per the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs’ (MoHUA) press release on December 31, 2018, only 11% of the smart cities have operational SCCCs with projects worth Rs 1,558 crore whereas 100% of the Smart Cities have set up an SPV

Since the program’s launch in 2015, the various projects across all Smart Cities as on December 31, 2018, have been taken up as follows:

Smart City Mission (SCM)

100 Smart CitiesTotal Number of ProjectsCost in Crores (INR)
Identified & Approved5,1512,03,979

Year End-Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs-8-Final 2018 Report Source: PIB, Delhi

The estimated Per Capita Investment Cost (PCIC) is Rs 43,386 as reported by the High Power Expert Committee (HPEC). As shared by DZone, the total estimate of investment in smart city totals up to Rs 7 lakh crore within a span of 20 years. There is a requirement for at least Rs 35,000 crore p.a., assuming 1 million population in each smart city. 

To support this kind of outlay, in addition to the center and state’s share (parity funding), there is a need for additional financial support. Many of the infrastructure and other projects on the docket are suitable for a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to bridge the Viability Gap Funding.

The Way Forward?

Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State(I/C) for Housing & Urban Affairs, along with his team, has his work cut-out. However, as the team continues in their 2nd innings, it is expected that it will be business as usual in this Ministry.

As per the 2011 census, 31.16% of Indian population, i.e. approximately 40 crore people dwell in urban areas in India. By 2030, 50% of India’s population is expected to reside in urban areas as projected by the Minister.

To match the high influx of people in urban landscapes, cities need affordable housing, better health and sanitation services, easy mobility, uninterrupted power supply, clean drinking water, digitization & IT connectivity, sustainable environment and good governance to name a few. 

For the projects to quickly see the light of day, there is a dire necessity to incorporate a 360-degree feedback mechanism for a successful realization of the Smart Cities within the planned time frame. 

Going by the slew of programs proposed in the Vision 2019 document and the schemes announced in the very first Union cabinet meeting in Modi 2.0, farmers’ welfare (among other core welfare schemes) seems to be the key issue in the Government’s current priorities.

On the other hand, the Smart Cities Mission is one of the most ambitious initiatives of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government for a smart and sustainable urban ecosystem, so there is every possibility that the searchlight will refocus on this nation-wide drive very soon.

Urban sustainability, infrastructure efficiency and economic growth are the key drivers to assess the impact of the projects. Neither central nor state governments can work in silos. A prudent, rather than a politically-ordained, approach has to be taken at various levels towards the successful completion of the existing projects across the loop. 

Will more cities be added to this smart list? Too early to predict! But hopefully, for most of us, 100 smart cities will no longer be a dream of the distant future!

“A diligent citizen, nature enthusiast, occasional blogger, avid reader, and sporadic photographer; Kolla Krishna Madhavi likes to express her personal views with a dash of mirchi ka tadka. With 20+ years of corporate WEX, including the more recent stints at IIIT-H and Google, Madhavi opted to write full-time. She can be reached at [email protected]

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