The Indian urban juggernaut has begun rolling showcasing projects worth $7billion as its first offering in the twenty lighthouse cities that have made it to Round 1. The government is set to announce another 13 to 14 cities in a couple of days taking the total to 34 that will be financed in the first round under the Smart City Mission a flagship initiative of the government of India.
Speaking at the CII Smart City Investors Meet on Thursday in the capital, Minister for Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Parliamentary Affairs. Mr Venkaiah Naidu said “We will announce the next set of cities in one or two days and these will be included in the first set of cities that will receive the first tranche of funding”. Emphasizing on the role of the private sector in the development of smart cities and urbanizing India, Mr Naidu said that there is an urgent need to involve the private sector and bring in their expertise and technology to meet the aspirations of the citizens in these cities.
The global interest in India’s smart city mission was on display in the investors’ meet which was attended by ambassadors of the US, Japan, South Korea, Spain and the High Commissioner of UK among others. The day long convention brought together diverse stakeholders from solution providers to city corporate’s, policy makers and foreign investors.
Speaking on a day when assembly results in five states were being announced, the minister said that there is a move towards stability at the states as well which will augur well for the developmental initiatives. Emphasizing on how the Union Government has established transparency by reducing human intervention in the delivery mechanism, the minister said “This government is on a mission; a mission without commission is the new version of GOI.” Talking on how this is being from the top, Mr Naidu said Prime Minister Modi’s name stands for Making of Developed India, a dream that this government is committed to.
Elaborating on the new and innovate financing means that cities will be adapting, the minister said that cities are looking at monetizing land assets, introduction of user charges and tax incentive financing. “Citizens have paid and are willing to pay user charges as long as they get assured and quality services and this would be the biggest ask from the service and solution providers,” he said.
Spear earlier at the inaugural session, Mr. Rajiv Gauba, Secretary – MOUD said that a unique aspect of the entire Smart City Mission is about the citizen participation. Almost 14 million citizens across the country have participated in shaping the smart city plans and this needs to be built upon even as plans are rolled out. “We need to institutionalize it and see that citizens play a proactive role through feedback loops,” the secretary said.
Speaking at the inaugural session, Mr Ravi Parthasarathy, chairman CII Smart City Mission said that CII is committed to work with the Government and all stakeholders to realize this ambitious Scheme by adapting the global best practices to Indian conditions. He also emphasized that cities have emerged as new nodes of growth, a fact that resonates with both local & global constituencies in contemporary times.
The Meet was addressed by Commissioners – Ahmadabad & Pune amongst other dignitaries and was well attended by a vast array of stakeholders including – Industry, Government, City representatives, Consultancy firms, Think tanks, Foreign Missions, Academia et al.