PANAJI: The government's proposal to create 100 smart cities in the country which boast of world class amenities maybe a step in the right direction, but, the use of technology-driven services is a disconcerting point, architect-urbanist and thinker Henrik Valeur said at a talk-cum-informal discussion late Wednesday evening.
"Essentially, we are giving the government data about ourselves so that the government can work efficiently, but, there is no clear limit on the data," Valeur said.
Smart Cities has become the buzz word in India ever since the central government came up with the idea of creating 100 smart cities in the country and earmarked Rs 7,060 crore in the Union Budget for it.
The government's loose definition of a smart city is a city with technology-based governance that will enable efficient public services and have 24x7 water and power supply, 100 per cent sewerage, drainage and solid waste management facilities, besides top-class infrastructure, something that Valeur finds commendable. Put in a nutshell, such cities will use technology to run themselves and manage resources efficiently.
Since then, every state has rushed to list the cities they would like to make "smart". The proposal has attracted a lot of hype, but, there has been hardly a strong debate on the concept and its drawbacks, which is why Valeur sought to draw attention to the fact that the concept itself was created by Information Technology companies, some of whom stand to gain by the extensive use of data centres and data collection hardware required to build smart cities.
The Danish critic and writer also indicated that India, which has nearly 32% of its population living in urban centres is staring at a grave water scarcity and pollution crisis.
"Pollution and depletion of the water table along with rapid population growth has put pressure on water resources in India," Valeur said. "And at least three of India's cities are more badly polluted than the cities of China."