Don't make Smart City Projects just a PR stunt; Harish Rao -min
Today the word “Smart City” has become the most fashionable and sought after word. Some planners use these words without understanding the concept.
The government announced the Smart City Mission with the objective of improving the amenities in the cities and also to make lives of the people living therein more comfortable. The government has selected 99 cities under the mission for development. Apart from these 99 cities, state governments have announced their intention to make many of their cities smarter in the coming years.
Nowadays if one glances through the tender pages of the daily newspaper, tenders relating to smart city project – be it appointment of CEOs, appointment of consultants or procurement of materials – consume substantial space of the newspapers.
But the big question is – has the mission been able to change the realities on the ground in the last three years? Sadly the answer is ‘No”. There is no change in the situation on the ground and today we see the cities in the same condition they were three years before – pothole filled roads, poor public transport system, wastes thrown all around, kids and elders defecating on the footpath and so on. There are early signs to indicate that the Smart City Mission started with much fanfare three years ago is likely to meet the same fate as any other government programs.
Look at the status of some of the smart city projects. In some cases SPVs are yet to be formed. Where they are formed, CEOs are not yet recruited. Where CEOs are appointed, delegation of authority not taking place as the people at the top known to delegate only responsibilities and not authority. Where authority has been delegated funds have not been sanctioned.
Indeed, implementing smart city projects in India is not going to be an easy task. First of all mindset needs to changed – mindset of people implementing the projects and those who are going to use the amenities has to be changed. Those who are in charge of the projects should start respecting the schedule of implementation. General public should also realise that it is not the sole responsibility of the government to maintain cleanliness of the city and their cooperation too is necessary to make the cities a better living place.
The government should bear in mind that the program should not only be eco-friendly and technocratic but also human-centric.