An ambitious target
The country is to have a 100 smart cities that will be both greenfield and brownfield. While details of the scheme are not yet known, Shankar Aggarwal, the secretary to the Union government for urban development, has provided a preview.
Issues related to land, and to red tape, rules and regulations are being addressed so that the private sector can be brought in; it will provide 90 per cent of the investment.
The government is looking at building by-laws and floor area ratio (FAR) so that you can build up instead of out, thus requiring less land.
A smart city will have smart infrastructure - roads, water and sewer networks, solid-waste management systems, drainage network, street lighting, pedestrian walkways, signal system, public toilets, gas supply, and safety and security systems.
This looks like a laundry list of what any well-run city with a decent quality of life should have. To be "smart" beyond this presumably means extensively using information technology for better management and delivery.
But what is disturbing is the continued faith in raising the FAR as a substitute to bringing more urban land into play, despite contrary empirical evidence.
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe look on during the signing of an agreement on developing Varanasi as a Smart City, at the State Guest House in Kyoto, in August 2014.
Text: Subir Roy, Business Standard
Image courtesy: PTI