New Delhi: Urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Tuesday work would begin on several smart cities very soon and by October activity would be in full swing.
Moreover, in a couple of months, about 500 cities with a population of over 1 lakh would be upgraded by redeveloping them. Naidu said that for smart cities to be successful, it was important to empower municipal bodies, adding that allowing them to issue municipal bonds was a step in this direction.
“The government is keen to ensure that such improvements are done in a manner such that urban habitations become more livable over a sustained period,” he said.
Speaking at the Digital India Dialogue, Naidu said cities needed to be creditworthy. “Close to 80-90% of revenues are spent on salaries and we need to rightsize the staff,” he said. Naidu said he had held meetings with representatives of states and municipal corporations across the country in an attempt to convince state governments to allocate land for smart cities.
Outlining the concept of Smart Cities, Naidu observed that these cities would have clean potable water, assured power supply, efficient public transport and would not be polluted or congested.
The future of a smart urban India would depend on the role people played and not solely on the government’s initiatives, the minister said. Naidu said the country’s journey towards an urbanised society depends on the efficient use of modern technologies, IT, better management of available resouces.
Calling for a change in the mindset, Naidu said, “People have to pay for what they ask for and they also need to participate actively. The government alone cannot create smart cities and hand them over to people”, the minister asserted. The minister stressed the importance of education, employment, entertainment and economic activity in the making of smart cities.
The minister also released a report — How smart are our cities? — put together by the Express Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) conceptualising the models for future smart cities in the country.
The report, assesses the transformation of Indian cities into smart cities and analyses the extent to which Indian cities are using technology to make administration more efficient and empower their citizens.