Challenges in Implementing Smart Cities

Posted by Admin on February 07, 2017

BY: One Globe Forum Team


Bureaucrats and industry experts laud the purpose and intent of the Indian government’s Smart Cities Mission. However, a number of ground realities need to be taken into account. A panel of experts at last year’s edition of One Globe Forum drew attention to the challenges in implementation.

The panelists were Dr. Sameer Sharma, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Purushottam Kaushik, Managing Director – Sales for CISCO India & SAARC, and Jayant Kohale, Head of Smart Cities at L&T Construction, and the moderator was New York-based Jerry Hultin, Chairman of the Smart City Expo World Congress Advisory Board.

Dr Sameer Sharma noted that the exercise of veto could pose a serious hurdle during the execution stages of the Smart Cities Mission. He said that other challenges ranged from integrating local departments to managing funds.

Fellow panelist Purushottam Kaushik noted that the “arrangement of resources in terms of technology and funds could be difficult while rolling out the plan”.

In view of the unforeseen odds, the MoUD has taken certain measures. In each of the cities under implementation, it has set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) governed by the Companies Act. The SPV is mandated to plan, release funds, implement, manage, operate, monitor, and evaluate the projects.

A batch of 20 cities out of a total 100 was selected through the India Smart Cities Challenge, a two-stage competition that polled citizen opinions. About 2.5 million people participated in it through a citizen-government partnership platform, and more than 12 million took part through mobile phones, public interactions, and other direct interactive modes.

The government will develop these cities in the first phase. Dr Sharma said that developing all 100 cities into smart cities would require an investment of roughly US$ 30 billion, of which $15 billion is expected from the government. Up to $4 billion is expected from convergence and other programs, including measures to enhance taxes, and the private sector is expected to invest more than US$ 10 billion.

Highlighting the commercial aspects of the project, panelist Jayant Kohale said: “It is a big business opportunity for global companies. They can collaborate and bring technology to the Indian market.”

L&T is considering turnkey solutions for the smart cities project, and has set up a unit named Smart World and Communication for the purpose.

The panel discussion highlighted the need to manage funds by reducing the cost of services and monetizing the assets created during project implementation. It emphasized the need to be result-oriented, sustainable, and focused on quality.