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Smart Cities Mission: Empowering cities for integrated sustainability development

Tags: cities

Smart Cities Mission has been a first in many ways amongst the various Missions launched for urban development in the country. For example, under this Mission, for the first time cities were selected through a process of competition under the guiding principles of cooperative and competitive federalism, writes Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN).

India’s Smart Cities Mission was launched by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi 4 years ago on June 25, 2015. The main objective of the Mission is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart Solutions’. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and to create replicable model which will act like a lighthouse to other aspiring cities.

The process of selection of 100 smart cities was based on the principle of Cooperative and competitive federalism —all cities were given equal opportunity to enter through All India Challenge conducted in four rounds. Technology is one of the many instruments that smart cities are adopting to solve urban challenges. Inclusiveness is built into the mission to ensure that each and every citizen benefits from the urban transformation that is taking place in the smart cities.

Each Smart City has been encouraged to formulate its own concept, vision, mission and plan (proposal) which is appropriate to its local context, resources and level of ambition.

Smart Cities Mission has been a first in many ways amongst the various Missions launched for urban development in the country. For example, under this Mission, for the first time cities were selected through a process of competition under the guiding principles of cooperative and competitive federalism. For the first time, cities created their proposals based on an extensive exercise of citizen consultation and therefore the proposals truly reflected the hopes and aspirations of their citizens.

For the first time, an independent institutional mechanism in the form of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) has been created to ensure integrated implementation of urban projects. For the first time, convergence with various other Missions within the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) as well as other Ministries and leveraging of resources through various sources like PPP, debts, land monetisation, etc, was built into the design of the Mission.

Principles Guiding Smart Cities

Smart cities in common parlance are understood to be cities that use appropriate technologies for improving quality of lives of their citizens. Our Smart Cities are woven around the following 6 principles:

1. Citizen at the core: Citizens and the communities are at the centre of development;

2. More from Less: Being conscious of resource constraints, they have to generate more impact/outcomes from use of less resources- energy, finance and others;

3. Cooperative and competitive federalism: Cities are selected through competition in two stage challenges at State and Central levels;

4. Integration, innovation, sustainability: It is not merely about the use of technology, but creation of integrated infrastructure and services.

5. Technology is means, and not the goal: Careful selection of technologies, relevant to the context of particular cities, built around specific needs of their communities is important for the cities to work out solutions; and

6. Inclusiveness is a guiding philosophy: Cities are for the people and hence they have to be built around the principles of inclusiveness. Broadly, Smart Cities address three core issues: Liveability, Economic-ability and Sustainability.

Impact on Citiezen’s Lives

Mission’s impacts on citizens’ lives can be grouped in four thematic areas: Ease of Living, Smart Governance, Connected Communities, and Urban Resilience. Some examples of how ‘Smart Cities’ projects are making a difference in citizens’ lives are as follows:

Ease of Living: Pune has transformed neglected urban spaces into social hubs thereby creating active neighbourhoods through Placemaking projects. Public Bike sharing projects in Coimbatore, Bhopal and Pune are helping the sustainable transport agenda and also creating a greener healthier city.

Smart Governance: Intelligent Traffic Management Systems in the cities of Ahmedabad, Surat and Visakhapatnam is making travel within the city seamless and more efficient.

Connected Communities: Smart Class room projects in NDMC, Kakinada, and Jabalpur are transforming schools through smart classrooms with marked improvement in results through better learning management and regular training of teachers. Lighthouse Project in Pune is imparting essential skills to allow poor urban youth earn their livelihood and contribute to the society. B- Nest Incubation Centre inBhopal is fostering an environment of entrepreneurship in the City, which will lead to greater innovation and employment.

Urban Resilience: Waste to Energy Plant in Jabalpur is incinerating waste and producing power for thousands of households and reducing the city’s carbon footprint. Smart Water Management in Ahmedabad is driving efficiency in use of scarce resources through SCADA implementation saving tax-payers money and saving precious water.

The 100 cities under the Mission have proposed to execute 5,151 projects worth Rs. 2,05,018 crores in 5 years from their respective dates of selection. Financial innovation is built in the design of their capital investment plans. The distribution of funding envisaged from different sources is as follows:

  • Current progress: All 100 Smart cities have established their SPVs, constituted their City Level Advisory Forum (CLAF) and all cities have appointed Project Management Consultants (PMCs).
  • More than 3,600 projects worth around Rs 1,35,000 crore have been tendered which is about 70% of the total value of projects. Close to 3000 projects worth Rs 90,000 crore have been grounded or completed.
  • The number of projects tendered in SCM has accelerated by 170% since June 2018.

Similarly, the total amount of work started in the Mission has increased by almost 200% since June, 2018. Most of these projects are innovative and/or are happening in our country for the very first time. Some of these key projects being developed are as follows:

  • Smart Command and Control Centres in 16 cities have been completed and are operational, while it is under development in 45 cities,10 cities have issued tenders.
  • Smart Roads in 25 cities have been completed and are operational, while it is under development in 60 cities. 37 cities have issued tenders.
  • Smart Solar in 15 cities have been completed and are operational, while it is under development in 37 cities. 8 cities have issued tenders.
  • Smart Wastewater in 10 cities have been completed and are operational, while it is under development in 50 cities. 19 cities have issued tenders.
  • Smart Water projects in 24 cities have been completed and are operational, while it is under development in 56 cities. 29 cities have issued tenders.

New Initiatives

The Mission has launched several new initiatives that will not only ensure integrated development across various aspects of urban development but also catapult the mission to the next stage of development. Some of these key initiatives include:

India Smart Cities Fellowship Programme

The India Smart Cities Fellowship Program announced on 9th July 2018, is designed to cultivate young leaders, strengthen their understanding of Indian urban sector and prepare them for greater leadership roles in future.

Ease of Living Index 2019 and Municipal Performance Index 2019

The first framework on ‘Ease of Living’ (EoL) Index for cities was launched in June 2017 with the objective of framing an index to enable a shift to data driven approach in urban planning and management and promote healthy competition among cities.

As a part of improving the index, a new edition The Ease of Living Index 2019, more focussed on outcomes, aims to assess the ease of living of citizens across three pillars–Quality of Life, Economic Ability and Sustainability.

ClimateSmart Cities Assessment Framework 2019

This Framework is first-of-its-kind public assessment framework on climate relevant parameters, including those of the recently launched National Clean Air Programme. The objective is to provide a clear roadmap for the cities and in effect, urban India as a whole, towards combating Climate Change while planning their actions within the city including investments.

DataSmart Cities Strategy, Assessment Framework and Open Data, India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX) Portals

The mission has launched a suite of measures to make cities ‘Data Smart’ so that they can realize the full potential of technology interventions and innovation ecosystems in cities.

The Smart Cities Open Data Portal is a step towards effective execution of the Data Smart Strategy. The Smart Cities Open Data Portal is a platform where the Smart Cities can share their data which can then be used by all stakeholders in the Smart Cities Ecosystem.

IUDX is an open source software platform that will facilitate secure and authenticated exchange of data amongst various data platforms, 3rd party applications, data producers and consumers, both within a city to begin with, and scaled up across cities eventually at a national level, in a uniform & seamless way.

National Urban Innovation Stack (NUIS) 

NUIS aims to catalyse transformative collaboration in the urban ecosystem through establishing a shared digital public resource.

India Urban Observatory

A state-of-the-art India Urban Observatory has become operational at MoHUA. The Observatory will plug into various sources of data from cities both from real-time and archival sources for generating insights through analytics for cities, academia, industry and governments. This will greatly contribute towards evidence based decision making and policy making.

Capacity Building Frameworks on the National Urban Learning Platform (NULP)

NULP is content neutral, scalable and multi-channel platform which can be used for producing and delivering capacity building programmes through a 360 degree approach.

Consultation Paper on City GDP Measurement Framework

There is no standardised methodology available for estimating city level GDP. Measuring city GDP enables cities to do improve their socio-economic and infrastructure planning. To develop a such framework for Indian cities, a consultation paper on framework for city GDP has been brought out and a technical committee is working to finalise the methodology.

Smart Cities Digital Payment Awards-2018

The Smart Cities Digital Payments Awards (SCDPA) 2018 ‘100 days Challenge in 100 Smart Cities’ was launched on 9th July 2018 as part of the initiatives of MoHUA to promote ease of living for India’s urban residents.

City Investments to Innovate, Integrate and Sustain (CITIIS) Challenge

City Investments to Innovate, Integrate and Sustain (CITIIS) was launched on 9th July, 2018 by the Smart Cities Mission, MoHUA in partnership with AFD, EU and NIUA. The total size of the programme is 100 Million Euros. It was open to all the 100 smart cities. During the Challenge process for selection of projects, 36 Smart cities submitted a total of 67 proposals belonging to various themes. 13 Projects from 13 Smart Cities were selected.The CITIIS awards were given away during the 2nd Apex Conference of Smart City CEOs on 26 February 2019.

One City One Impact

One City One Impact is a 100 days programme of the Smart Cities Mission envisaged to encourage 100 smart cities to take up at least one impactful initiative which can be completed in 100 days and results in quantifiable and impactful outcome. The thematic area to be covered under this programme comprises of Inclusion, Environment, Cleanliness, Economy and Water. It is estimated that nearly 2.7 crore citizens will be directly benefitted from this programme.


The Mission is moving full steam ahead. As on 12 July 2019, more than 5000 projects worth over 2 lakh crore are at various stages of implementation. The Mission is proving to be a game-changer in this regard. Not only is it directly improving citizens’ quality of life, it is also contributing to transforming the country into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy.

This post first appeared on Asia's First Monthly Magazine On EGovernance, please read the originial post: here

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Smart Cities Mission: Empowering cities for integrated sustainability development


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