Indian cities are under transformation and it is fuelled by an array of schemes of Government of India. The role of municipal corporations is changing with the introduction of these initiatives. Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), which are created under Smart Cities Mission, is a new entrant in the urban domain. These SPVs are looking after projects under the Mission for improving urban infrastructure and civic services. Both the agencies, municipal corporations and SPVs, need to synchronise their operational functioning and priorities for better results. This is much more important for the cities which have different officials heading the SPV and the corporation
India is slowly but consistently moving towards becoming a country of ‘cities and towns’. The exodus of people from rural areas has intensified in recent times. And, the last census in 2011 suggested the same as the urban population growth, for the first time in the history of independent India, surpassed rural population growth. There are several reasons for this. Agriculture requires far less human resources because of the availability of advanced technological tools. The sector is no longer lucrative for educated youth, barring a few exceptions here and there.
People are moving to cities for a better lifestyle and education. The attraction of cities is increasingly becoming irresistible for the rural populace and the lack of even basic facilities in rural habitats is strengthening the desire of migrating to cities. The trend in small towns and cities is similar and many studies suggest that only a few select metropolitan cities are witnessing the steep increase in population growth. But most of these cities are not capable of this influx of population and
their urban infrastructure is bursting at seams.
The government of the day knows this and that is why it has desired to create 100 Smart Cities in India so that the migration of people to cities can be evenly distributed.
Smart Cities Mission that was launched in May 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under implementation in 100 cities. The pace of work or progress of projects under the Mission is uneven. Some cities are on the track while others are still building workplace or offices to kick start the desired projects.
According to Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, as many as 98 special purpose vehicles (SPVs) have so far been constituted to execute projects in cities selected under the Mission. Tenders have been issued for another 1,686 projects worth more than 63,000 crore in various smart cities while 1,200 projects worth more than 38,000 crore are under implementation. The progress in the cities will completely depend on how these cities generate funds for the projects because the cities will have to generate funds for the projects planned as only 1000 crore will only be contributed by the state and central government over a period of five years. And, it is to be noted that most of the cities have submitted the projects ranging between 1000 cr and 5000 cr. Some cities like Bhopal have been able to manage their finances well. The cost of the project planned in Bhopal is around 3400 cr and the Smart City SPV has been able to generate over 5000 cr through land monetization.
Smart City may not be a new concept globally. It has various connotations but the concept is undoubtedly relative to local realities. Developing or transforming a European City into a Smart City would bean entirely different exercise from transforming an Indian city into a smart city; dbecause the local realities of both urban habitats are different. In Europe, cities have reached a level where basic civic services are reaching to the last person but cities in India are still struggling to provide basic services to everyone. Smart Cities in developing countries mean integrating technologically advanced tools into urban eco-system to strengthen existing service delivery or urban infra, while in India, using technology to improve delivery of basic civic services or say making sure that no one is left behind in service delivery is the priority. The objective here is to ensure access to electricity, water supply and sewer connection
The role of SPVs in the present scheme of things is diverse yet limited. The Mission is an effort to rejuvenate urban management operations. It is a great opportunity for state governments and central government because they can create a mechanism under which both the agencies can pull up the standards of civic services to a level of a global city.
The overarching goals of Smart Cities encompass objectives for sustainable cities. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can be an enabler in attaining sustainability and good governance. SPVs in Smart Cities can help municipal corporations in developing a renewed working culture and attitude towards looking at the problem because they are better positioned in terms of availability of resources and trained workforce
The overarching goals of Smart Cities encompass objectives for sustainable cities. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can be an enabler in attaining sustainability and good governance. SPVs in Smart Cities can help municipal corporations in developing a renewed working culture and attitude towards looking at the problem because they are better positioned in terms of availability of resources and trained workforce.