The aroma of wood and leaves was once replaced by glass and steel, and now the urban layout conceals a network of computers. These computers communicate with high intelligence and let us live in a world of automation. The traditional methods of building and managing cities are changing, and the digital advancement is creating a new kind of city – ‘a smart city’.
Smart cities are urban regions that are superior in terms of infrastructure, communication, and sustainable real estate. Information technology is linked to architectural, economical, social and environmental issues. With the agenda to provide a high quality of life for the citizens, the Indian government launched “100 Smart Cities Mission” on June 25, 2015. 90 cities have been selected till August 2017, in four rounds. Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Ludhiana, Kochi and Ahmedabad were a few in the list.
It is estimated that 25-30 people migrate to the urban areas in search of livelihood and better future. With this rate, it is expected that around 843 million people will live in urban areas by the end of 2050. To deal with it, India needs better infrastructure to accommodate people without disrupting the already existing life in these areas. Thus, the government of India aims to augment these cities with smart lighting, intelligent traffic system, accessible Wi-Fi points, and efficient vehicle management system. The present Prime Minister quoted:
“Cities in the past were built on riverbanks. They are now built along highways. But in the future, they will be built based on an availability of optical fiber networks and next-generation infrastructure.”
However, there are many obstructions. The downside of the plan includes lack of skilled personnel, lack of proper guidelines for the local bodies to arrange loans, no plan for incentives, lack of training and knowledge.
Expected Impact on Real Estate
- Capital Investment on real estate for the first 20 cities is Rs 48,220 crore
- 2 crore homes to be built in the smart cities for the low-income groups, stimulating the housing market
- Developed smart cities would allure investors to spend on new hotels, shops, shopping malls, etc.
- Developers will play a key role in implementing the economic and social infrastructure of the cities.
The smart city project makes the average citizen dream of a new utopia but checking the facts, one comes across a different story. Date analysis by Business Standard reveals the following:
- Only 6.3 % of the total projects sanctioned were implemented till July, 2017.
- Out of 2,895 projects, only 181 projects were executed till then.
- Pune: 52 projects were planned under the Pune Smart City Mission, but only 5 projects have started. Many have been outrightly dismissed d due to several issues.
The success of the government’s initiative also depends on financial support by the state governments, which are collectively estimated as Rs.48,000 crore. The Smart City Mission coupled with Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation has the potential to build country’s future on sustainable grounds, but only if everything is implemented as planned.