Indian economy has been growing consistently attracting global acclaim. Growing economic activity and urbanization have historically gone hand in hand. However currently, many cities are struggling to cope up with the adverse effects of unplanned development without any master plans. Adequate infrastructure and avenues for IT enabled services are sadly in short supply in most cities. Fast increasing gulf between urban rich and poor is also a matter of serious concern.
Keeping this in mind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Smart Cities Awas Yojna Mission in June 2015. It is one of the government’s most ambitious programs,with a total of ₹980 billion being approved by the Indian Cabinet for development of 100 smart cities and rejuvenation of 500 others.
Selection of Smart Cities: The list of nomination marked the first stage in the selection process of smart cities, in which the state governments nominated potential cities and the Centre shortlisted 100. The implementation of the project will take place in three rounds. The first round comprises of selection of 20 cities which require immediate and foremost attention. These include Bhubaneswar, Pune, Jaipur, Ahemdabad, New Delhi and many others. The second round will shortlist another 13 cities like- Lucknow, Chandigarh, Ranchi, etc. Lastly the last round would cover rest of the 27 cities. Amritsar, Nagpur, Agra, Varanasi are among the few cities shortlisted for the third round.
The Main Motive of Smart City Yojana is not just to build multi-storied buildings but to develop a city and make it modern so that the people living in it may enjoy easier lifestyle and may avail basic facilities easily. The project would ensure these cities of India are made better in all spheres.
This project would ensure sanitation and other modern facilities for developing the city. The scheme would provide certain essential things needed for the cities and towns like vehicles, infrastructure, ecology, education, energy resources, people’s security, cleanliness and health care with the help of modern technologies.
Foremost importance is being given to Smart Housing for Smart cities. According to the terms of the program, the government of India will undertake to construct about two crore houses by the year 2022. Each house covered under the scheme will draw in a central grant of about INR 1 lakh which may go up to INR 2.3 lakhs. This will come as part of a 6.5 percent interest rate subsidy scheme which previously had an interest rate subsidy of 1 percent.
Following which Digital Governance in Smart cities is being given significance. This includes- multi-channel citizen interfaces like mobile, web, face-to-face, kiosks and social media can assist in delivering various citizen-centric services such as bill payment, tax, on-line issuance of certificates and registration of grievances. Social media has proven to be a very powerful two way communication channel.
To cater to high technological requirements of the implementation of the project, the government would call for foreign direct investment in various segements of the development.
This project will compromise a lot of steps. The exact duration of the scheme has not been mentioned, however, as conveyed the project would take place in phase/ rounds and the final phase should be completed within next two decades.
Benefits to other Social and Economical groups:
While the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is clear about its goals, it does ensure that the benefits of the scheme are enjoyed by women, economically backward groups of Indian society. Transgenders and widows, members of the society which belong to the lower income groups and urban poor, and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be granted preference when they try to avail the affordable housing scheme.
Apart from these groups, people who often find themselves out of a home, senior citizens and differently-abled people shall also gain preference in allotment of houses. They shall also be able to choose a ground-floor houses if need be. Apart from this, it is also mandatory that while registering to avail the benefits of the scheme, the beneficiaries must necessarily mention their mother or wife’s name.
As stated earlier, the project is one of the most ambitious projects till date in India. The intent and the fundamental idea behind the project is quite righteous, provided the implementation part is done with utmost honesty. The scheme is one-of-its-kind in India in terms of the protection and benefits that it extends to previously neglected groups such as transgenders and widows. Smart City Yojana would bring in smart solutions within the targeted cities, so that the day to day lives of the citizens living in these cities is convenient and efficient at the same time.