The Smart City Mission was launched in India in 2015 with the aim of transforming cities into more efficient, sustainable, and livable metropolitan hubs. However, the initiative faces hurdles in completing all its projects by the June 2023 deadline. A look at the progress made so far, the best and worst performers, and the challenges standing in the way of achieving the goals of the Smart City Mission.
Progress Made So Far
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs stated that a total of 7,813 projects have been green-lit so far, worth ₹1,80,658 crore. Under the program, 100 cities were chosen across five rounds from January 2016 to June 2018, with Shillong picked as the final city. The primary objective of this scheme is to adopt digital information technologies along with ideal practices for the development of the city. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry changed the completion date for all cities to June 2023.
Best & Worst Performers
Bhopal was listed as the number one smart city in the union ministry of housing and urban affairs' 2022 rating Smart City Ratings. Bhopal has made considerable improvements to its urban area in order to take the top spot. Other cities such as Varanasi, Ahmedabad, and Surat have also made considerable progress in achieving their smart city goals.
However, Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh is one of the country's poorest performers. The 'Aligarh Habitat Centre,' the city's centerpiece project, was finished in 2022 but is still not operational. Other components of smart city development that the city lags behind are mobility, governance, and social inclusion. There is a high crime rate, a low literacy rate, and bad health indicators in the city.
According to official numbers submitted in Parliament, 5,399 projects costing 1.02 lakh crore have been completed out of a total of 7,799 projects, with the remainder still under progress. Just about 20 cities are expected to fulfill the June deadline; the remaining cities will require additional time. Cities chosen in January and June 2018 have completed 44% of their goals, while those chosen in the second round in 2016 are just 46% complete.
Other than this data security, political hindrances, power crisis, and excessive priority to the private sector may be some of the other challenges standing in the way for SCM. Inter-departmental non-cooperation has also been reported on some occasions.
Despite the limitations and challenges, several cities have developed inventive solutions to urban problems, such as better waste management systems, smart transit networks, and digital infrastructure. To ensure the success of the Smart City scheme, government and local administrations must work together to solve issues such as closing financing shortages, improving procurement procedures, and assisting local authorities. Overall, the Smart City scheme has the potential to create a sustainable city but requires sustained commitment and effort to achieve it.