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Is India's Plan to Build 100 Smart Cities Inherently Flawed?

09:30 - 29 June, 2017
Is India's Plan to Build 100 Smart Cities Inherently Flawed?, Mumbai Skyline. Image <a href='https://pixabay.com/en/mumbai-bombay-cityscape-skyline-390543/'>via Pixabay</a> by user PDPics (public domain)
Mumbai Skyline. Image via Pixabay by user PDPics (public domain)

The Indian Government’s Smart City Mission, launched in 2015, envisions the development of one hundred “smart cities” by 2020 to address the country’s rapid urbanization; thirty cities were added to the official list last week, taking the current total of planned initiatives to ninety. The $7.5-billion mission entails the comprehensive development of core infrastructure—water and electricity supply, urban mobility, affordable housing, sanitation, health, and safety—while infusing technology-based “smart solutions” to drive economic growth and improve the citizens’ quality of life in cities.

In a country bogged down by bureaucratic corruption, the mission has been commended for its transparent and innovative use of a nation-wide “City Challenge” to award funding to the best proposals from local municipal bodies. Its utopian manifesto and on-ground implementation, however, are a cause of serious concern among urban planners and policy-makers today, who question if the very idea of the Indian smart city is inherently flawed.