Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

Smart Cities Mission is too project-based and lacks integrated vision: Report


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization, their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Smart Cities Mission

Mains level: The newscard critically evaluates Smart Cities Mission on its very goal of area-based development thereby neglecting community development due to institutional bottlenecks.


Lack of holistic approach

  1. The government’s flagship Smart Cities Mission has been too “project-focused” instead of evolving an integrated urban development paradigm
  2. New Delhi-based Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) highlights following aspects seeking more attention:
  • Gender
  1. It also lacks a strong gender equality or non-discrimination approach to city development
  2. The report also highlights the lack of any specific directions with the mission to make Indian cities more gender friendly or non-discriminatory.
  3. The ministry of housing and urban affairs had earlier proposed to set up several smart city sub-committees, including one on gender, but these are yet to take off.
  • Area
  1. The report also critiques the model for creating small area-based ‘smart enclaves’ resulting in an undue focus on a part of the cities.
  2. These area-based development zones cover less than 5% of the geographic domain of many of the proposed smart cities, says the report prepared by the HLRN.
  • Urban Amenities
  1. The lack of a city development model, for example, and adequate standards to guide project implementation, including for housing, water, sanitation, health, and environmental sustainability.
  2. This raises questions about whether the mission will really be able to deliver on its aims and ensure the fulfillment of rights and entitlements of all city residents, the report says.
  • No HR based approach
  1. The SCM guidelines do not include any human rights-based indicators to monitor implementation of the Mission or to ensure that projects will also benefit low-income and other disadvantaged groups.
  • Least Spending made so far
  1. In its March 2018 report, the standing committee had noted that of all urban schemes, spending on Smart Cities Mission had been the lowest.
  2. Only 8% of the total identified projects under the mission have been completed in three years.

Way Forward

  1. The Smart Cities Mission should reinvent itself as the Sustainable Cities Mission.
  2. A shift is required to bring about substantial and sustained improvement in the lives and livelihoods of not only the 8% of India’s population covered by the mission’s proposed ‘area-based development’
  3. It should define its goal as development for every inhabitant of this country.
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