Will 2018 be the year...

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs saw some drastic changes in 2017. Its name was changed. It witnessed three ministers and two secretaries at the helm of affairs. With new bosses in the ministry, what is in the offing in the year 2018 for cities?

2017 saw major developments for Indian cities which will have a significant bearing on their economic prospects for the coming year and beyond.  The year 2018 has come with many hopes and aspirations. Certainly, people have pinned their hope to see more efficient urban management in every domain related to their day-to-day lives. Traffic, waste management, disaster management, water supply, roads and business-friendly environment need an urgent overhaul as many cities including the national capital are plagued with many problems despite multiple missions in cities.

Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs, has assured countrymen, in an interview with a newspaper, that people will start seeing the physical manifestation of smart cities by June 2018. It will be very interesting to see how Indian policymakers and planners have envisaged smart cities and what these cities will look like. The proposed projects are out in the open but the implementation in our cities will be a different ball game.  General elections are not very far. NDA Government has just one year to showcase the result of its flagship programs. Most of its projects are routed through cities. Whether it is Swachh Bharat Mission, Smart Cities Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Make in India, Start-up India, they will falter if they do not perform well in urban centers. It is expected that the focus will be on cities.  I am hopeful that the great economic divide between the big corporations and smaller ones will also be addressed by making systematic changes to ensure every municipal corporation becomes self-sufficient financially. The success of Smart Cities Mission also lies on this fundamental requirement for cities as the state and center will give only a part of the total requirement to cities and the remaining amount will have to be generated by the cities themselves.

The success of Smart Cities mission also lies on this fundamental requirement for cities as the state and center will give only a part of the total requirement to cities and the remaining amount will have to be generated by the cities themselves.

Globally, the issue of climate change and its impact on cities will be discussed strongly as the rulebook for Paris accord will also be finalized this year. The role of cities will be prominent since they are the biggest emitters and the biggest sufferers too.

As changing urban ecosystem is also affecting the health of city dwellers, I am sure, they will accept the potential convergence between environmental and personal well-being by bringing in fundamental changes in their lifestyle. The need to change individual lifestyle will surely benefit cities. The year started with a note of restriction for Indian cricket players in South Africa. They were asked to limit their shower to two minutes because the South African cities are going through the worst water crisis in recent times. It is important that everyone everywhere should adopt a sustainable lifestyle to ensure a better, brighter future for the cities of tomorrow.

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