Daily Editorials for UPSC IAS Exam Preparation

Editorial Today – Smart city project: #89 A critical analysis




Smart City India Project


smart city india

Challenges associated with Smart Cities

  • Problem with Indian cities is that they are ‘unsmart’ but that they are dysfunctional.
  • To make these states functional, large expansion of infrastructure is needed. But the states do not have that much finance available with them.
  • It adds to the problem further as the FDI which India expect to come and be invested in smart cities, is difficult to attract without infrastructural expansion.
  • Government document on policy on smart cities yields three important conclusions:-

There will be no big public investment in expanding urban infrastructure.

Government will support the citizens to develop the smart infrastructure in the cities as they need, for which they will have to pay from their own pockets.

City-wide public investments will be only for 2 purposes, either to help create a market for ICT or to address security concerns.

  • In project, bulks of proposed investments are earmarked for area-specific development, and not city-wide infrastructure.
  • Some of the sources of the funds, suggested by SCG (Smart City Guidelines) like funds from municipal bonds, leveraged borrowings from financial institutions, and Tax Increment Financing (TIFF) are regarded as toxic instruments, and discredited in west already.
  • India is short at the skilled labor force that smart cities require.
  • In china which is a model for developing the smart cities, land is owned by state hence acquiring land for development projects is not a big issue there.
  • While in India land acquisition issue has been haunting continuously to the changing governments, Presently too protests are going on against the new land acquisition law.
  • For smart systems to substantively improve planning, coordination and governance, they will need to have a centralized metropolitan governing structure in place, accountable to city residents.
  • It is simpler and cheaper to build cities anew than to upgrade older settlements.

Concerns associated with smart cities:-

  • Fears about loss of privacy
  • Smart cities may give rise to surveillance societies.
  • There are possibilities of authoritarianism unleashed by the normalisation of biometric control
  • All smart city projects will be implemented by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), private sector can also take equity stake in the SPV. There is a possibility that private sector can become a single biggest shareholder in the SPV.
  • SPV, along with transfer of financial control, is also a mechanism for transfer of political control.
  • The SPV will even have the powers to collect taxes and surcharges, and enter into JVs and PPPs.
  • All these powers associated with SPV can turn a private body into a an authorized governing body.
Print Friendly