Chasing Urban Dream: India identifies 98 smart cities


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India’s smart cities mission has moved a step forward with the government announcing the list of 98 ‘Smart Cities’ that will be developed to enhance the quality of urban life in India. With the Indian economy growing over the past couple of decades, a host of problems associated with unplanned urbanization have cropped up.

Indian cities have started becoming unlivable, according to many urban development reports, and are facing plenty of challenges from housing to infrastructure, sanitation, employment and public transport.  To help address these issues, the government has shortlisted 98 cities across the country as part of its Smart Cities project.

The Centre has decided to provide funding of Rs 48,000 crore to selected cities to improve infrastructure and public service delivery with the help of technology and e-governance.

Smart City has also become a major plank of India’s foreign policy thrust, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking support of developed countries in his quest to transform the country’s urban infrastructure. The United States, France, Germany, China and Japan are some of India’s key external partners in this smart cities project. Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu stressed that these smart cities will be equipped with robust IT connectivity and digitization and core infrastructure such as water supply, electricity supply, sanitation, public transport, solid waste management and affordable housing. “We are not just aiming at making our urban landscape fanciful and flashy but the prime objective is to enhance quality of urban life,” said Mr Naidu.

Some of the metropolitan cities with a population of over 5 million that have made it to the list include Chennai, greater Hyderabad, Greater Mumbai, Ahmedabad. Some of the major features of a smart city include promoting mixed land use in area based developments, housing and inclusiveness, creation of walkable localities, preserving and developing open spaces, promoting transport options, making governance citizen friendly and cost effective, giving an identity to the cities, applying smart solutions to infrastructure and services.

While the grandiose plan of smart cities seems to have captured the imagination of many people, urban development experts and public policy analysts have expressed their reservations on many issues from sustainability to feasibility. Critics have also argued for the government to focus on improving the quality in the interior areas of the country first and bring them to the standard of cities rather than focusing on already reasonably well developed cities and remodeling them.

Here is the list of 98 smart cities unveiled by the Indian government:

Port Blair, Vishakhapatnam, Tirupati, Kakinada, Pasighat, Guwahati, Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Biharsharif, Chandigarh, Raipur, Bilaspur, Diu, Silvassa, NDMC, Panaji, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Dahod, Karnal, Faridabad, Dharamsala, Ranchi, Mangaluru, Belagavi, Shivamogga, Hubballi-Dharwad, Tumakuru, Davanegere, Kochi, Kavaratti, Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur, Gwalior, Sagar, Satna, Ujjain, Navi Mumbai, Nasik, Thane, Greater Mumbai, Amaravati, Solapur, Nagpur, Kalyan-Dombivalli, Aurangabad, Pune, Imphal, Shillong, Aizawl, Kohima, Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, Oulgaret, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Jaipur, Udaipur, Kota, Ajmer, Namchi, Tiruchirapalli, Tirunelveli, Dindigul, Thanjavur, Tiruppur, Salem, Vellore, Coimbatore, Madurai, Erode, Thoothukudi, Chennai, Greater Hyderabad, Greater warangal, Agartala, Moradabad, Aligarh, Shaharanpur, Bareilly, Jhansi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Lucknow, Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Agra, Rampur, Dehradun, New Town Kolkata, Bidhannagar, Durgapur, Haldia