Building Smart Cities in India

By Shamika Ravi, Adie Tomer, Ankit Bhatia and Joseph Kane – Launched under Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, the “Smart Cities Mission” is an ambitious multiyear effort to boost economic development, technological innovation, and sustainable growth across 100 cities.

Learning from previous national urbanization initiatives, the Smart Cities Mission promises to simultaneously improve the infrastructure and built environment in India’s expanding cities while offering a new path to urban fiscal health. If successful, Indian cities will position themselves as clean, modern, and competitive places for years to come.

Simply put, installing digital technologies alone will not deliver the results India hopes to achieve.

India’s growing tide of urbanization necessitates significant governance reforms to successfully manage such growth.

Following a variety of reforms during the past few decades—including those included under prior national urbanization programs—many regions across India have assumed greater control over managing and financing their urban development. However, states and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) can still vary widely in the amount of control they exercise in these matters and are continually exploring new ways to drive investments.

The creation of new local units to manage urban infrastructure—called Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs)—offers the potential to guide more comprehensive planning efforts, but their long-term role must be more clearly defined.

India must elevate the financial standing of its urban areas, making them more attractive destinations for future investment.

Across all levels of government, particularly among different city agencies, India must ensure that dependable capital is available to meet economic goals in years to come.

Increased private-sector engagement should be a paramount concern, which requires more active, coordinated leadership in project management, technical guidance, and risk mitigation. more>


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