Written by Sudhansu Sekhar Das and Sidharth Sabyasachi
India is home to a population of 1.4 billion, with most of the population living in rural areas. According to the 2011 census carried out by the Government of India, 31% percent of India’s population lives in urban areas and contribute to 63% of its gross domestic product (GDP). Also, according to an estimate, 40% of its population will live in urban areas and contribute to 75% of its GDP by 2030. The government of India has tirelessly pursued efforts to build the required infrastructure of the cities to accommodate the increased population. In order to fulfill the above cause, a number of programs in the past and present has been initiated by Government of India. Out of several programs initiated by the government in recent years is the smart city mission. The smart city mission is to radically improve the infrastructure and facilities of the cities in India.
The smart city mission was launched in 2015 with an aim of making 100 cities of India on par with comparable global cities in terms of infrastructure and facilities . The different components of smart city missions are shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Different components of Smart City Mission.
To execute the various components of the smart city mission, the following sections have considered:
- Adequate and clean water supply
- Assured electricity supply
- Sanitation, including solid-waste management
- Efficient urban mobility and public transport
- Affordable housing, especially for the poor
- Robust IT connectivity and digitalization
- Health and education
- Sustainable environment
Adequate and Clean Water Supply
Water supply is one of the most basic requirements for each individual, irrespective of urban or rural living. As cities in India prepare to accommodate growing and migrating rural populations, providing adequate water supply to each and every household is a necessary task. However, water supply in India comes under the responsibilities of the respective state government. The central government can assist the state government with the help of its expertise and resources. Hence, according to the above federal structure of India, the government of India - with the help of states - initiated a program known as Jal Jeeven Mission in 2019. Under the mission, every urban household will be provided with the tapped water supply until 2024. The scheme is implemented by the urban local bodies in India, with the support from urban people of India.
Assuring Electricity Supply
Like water supply, electricity is one of the most vital requirements for the people of India. Under the smart city mission, the prime minister has launched Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojna (SAUBHAGYA). The SAUBHAGYA scheme aims to provide energy across all the urban and rural households of India. Through August 2022, the scheme provided electricity to 100 % urban households in India.
Sanitation Including Solid Waste Management
Solid waste management in the cities of India comes under the responsibilities of urban local bodies. As the population in the cities rises, the urban local body challenges also rise.
In order to face the above challenges, the Government of India enacted solid waste management rules in 2016. According to the rules, the responsibility of managing solid waste has been divided among the urban local bodies and the big industries. The household wastes will be managed by the local bodies and the big industrial wastes will be managed by the industry themselves.
Efficient Urban Mobility and Public Transport
Transport is a vital requirement in the lives of people living in urban areas. Due to vehicular emission and its effects, the government is promoting mass transportation and the use of electric based vehicles . To implement the above plans, the Government of India has initiated mass transportation facilities like metro rail under the metro rail act 1978, airports, public buses under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission 2005, electric vehicles under National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2013. The above plans and programs launched by the government proved to be a major catalyst for the development of urban transportation as well for the growth of urban development.
Affordable Housing Especially for the Poor
In India, people who are living in cities have well-built houses with basic amenities. However, not all the homes are like this. Hence, for people who are living in slums without basic amenities, the government has initiated Pradhan Mantra Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U) for them. The PMAY-U was introduced in 2015 and until 2022, 1.12 crore families have benefited under this scheme in urban areas .
Robust IT Connectivity and Digitalization
The annual export of IT related services has crossed 150 billion dollars from India and, according to National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), the IT exports of India have crossed 178 billion dollars in 2022. The average growth of IT service exports in India stands around 8%, which is one of the highest in the world, making IT development particularly important in India.
The government policies like Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) have helped in achieving the unprecedented growth4. However, there are lots to be achieved in India in IT exports. This can be done by training the youth of the country in the proper direction. The process of digitalization is the key to this.
India is home to the second largest population of internet users in the world. The tele-density in India is around 88.51%. However, the urban tele-density stands at 140.86%. The productivity of people in urban areas can be further enhanced by introducing the 5G services in the cities.
Health and Education
The literacy rate of India was 78% until 2022; out of this, the urban literacy rate is 88% and rural literacy rate is 73%. However, the urban literacy rate of urban India may be more than some of its south Asian neighbors and most of African nations, but when compared with the developed countries like USA, UK, Japan, South Korea, etc, it is not as impressive. Hence, to increase the literacy rate of urban areas, the government has introduced the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 with the aim of making India into a knowledge-based economy. To improve the quality of education and match with world class education standards, top 500 ranked QS world Universities are invited to establish their campus inside India, under the NEP 2020 and provide world class education.
The 1.4 billion people of India cannot realize their potential unless it is backed by a robust healthcare system. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Human Development Index (HDI) report, India ranks 132 among 191 nations in the world. This lower rank is attributed to poor healthcare service in India.
However, the healthcare sector in urban India has progressed significantly due to the allowance of foreign direct investment in this sector and the opening of private sector hospitals in the cities. In addition to the above, the Government of India has initiated programs such as the Ayushman Bharat scheme. The aim of this scheme is to provide health insurance coverage to 10 crore families in India and the opening of multiple secondary and tertiary hospitals in India. This policy has the potential to transform the health sector of the country.
India is one of the worst affected countries in the world due to natural calamities like flood, cyclone, and climate change, due to its south geographical location surrounded by the sea and near to the equator. The cities in India are more prone to such problems due to greater population density compared to rural areas. Climate change also has a huge impact on the population in the cities. So many cities in India experience heat waves in summer.
- Hence, to fight with the above challenges, several plans and programs have been initiated by the Government of India. These are:
- India has joined Kyoto protocol and has implemented several greenhouse emission reduction projects
- India is a signatory to the Paris agreement. Under this agreement, India has a binding commitment toward a nationally determined contribution
- India has set up a national disaster management authority under the chairmanship of the prime minister to fight various natural calamities
- India has set up national solar mission in partnership with various countries of the world
The Government of India has initiated the Smart City Mission to stand with the developed countries. To fulfill the basic needs and increase the standard lifestyle of Indians, 100 cities have been considered in the initial phase, and various factors have been included to make the life of people comfortable. By implementing the above explained plans and programs of the smart city mission, the cities in India can become better places to live for the huge population of India. It also directly helps India to become one of the major economies of the world.
- India Smart City Mission: http://smartcities.gov.in
- Solutions Exchange for Urban Transformation of India: https://smartnet.niua.org/
- Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs: http://mohua.gov.in
- Unified, Secure and Resilient: ICT Framework for Smart Infrastructure,” Pre-Standardization Study Report, Bureau of Indian Standards, Govt. of India, version 1, November 2017.
This article was edited by Sidharth Sabyasachi.