Friday, October 30, 2020
Home Editorial Smart city plan is slowly walking into controversy

Smart city plan is slowly walking into controversy

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After announcing 100 smart cities, BJP now announced its planning to open 100 additional airports by 2024, as part of a plan to revive economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The proposal, which includes starting 1,000 new routes connecting smaller towns and villages, was discussed at a meeting last week to review infrastructure needed by 2025. With economic activity at a six-year low and prospects of further slowdown looming, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to double down on infrastructure projects in a bid to revive growth and achieve a target of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2025. India, with a population in one billion plus, is the seventh largest economy in the world. The rapid pace of growth witnessed by the country is an indicator of rising aspirations of its citizens. Economic growth directly linked to labour market efficiency, has the potential to spring at a much faster rate, if citizens in metropolitan areas are provided with better lifestyle.

This is also the need of the hour, considering the country has witnessed matchless levels of migration from rural to urban India for education and professional reasons. One the way to achieve this is through focus on ease of living, build smart cities that are well equipped with public facilities, have adequate infrastructure to support needs of contemporary Indian families, and last but not the least, are affordable. According to figures on the union urban development ministry’s website, 49.5% projects are yet to be initiated but without proper guidelines..

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Indore, Bhopal and Jabalpur have started implementing 20 of the 159 projects that were approved for these three cities and completed 12. Surat and Ahmedabad have started work on eight of the 49 projects and completed two while Udaipur and Jaipur have completed three of the 91 projects that were selected.

Since the time the Narendra Modi led government assumed office, it has highlighted the urgency of providing Indians with better lifestyle, starting from basic sanitation to affordable housing to building a digital India. We need to acknowledge that our metro cities are bursting at seams, and capacity building is the only way forward. Semi-urban areas need to be groomed and graduated to cities, so that education, jobs, public utilities such as electricity, public transport, and sanitation, healthcare is no more a ‘privilege’ of the few, but a matter of fact for every Indian citizen. This is contrary to the Left leaning ecosystem that has glorified poverty and sees no problem when a significant chunk of the nation does not have access to basic facilities like electricity or potable water.

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Meanwhile, for a smart city to succeed government needs to create more jobs. Smart city concept came from growing urbanisation. That means an increasing population as a result of better-paid jobs. If you do not create jobs and you have more urbanisation, it will be chaos. That is what is happening to the concept of Smart city in India. Everyone thinks that painting the walls, keeping the city in fancy look is what makes city look smart but building better roads, having better connectivity, better parking, etc means Smart city.

Well! Smart cities, yet to establish its existence, now India’s plans to expedite airport development still trails that of China’s, which has set a goal of having 450 commercial airports by 2035, almost double the number at the end of 2018.

The Indian government has committed investments of 1 trillion rupees to build airports in the next 5 years. Just three years back, only 75 of India’s 450 runways were functional, as airlines avoided flying to smaller, World War-era airstrips in

smaller towns. But Modi’s subsidy programme, which partly funds airline losses while capping fares on remote routes, has helped add as many as 38 airports to the nation’s aviation map at the start of this year, while contracts were given to airlines to start flights to a further 63 airports with no or limited connectivity.

In a bid to privatise state-owned airports and allegedly to benefit a well-known corporate house, the Central government has planned to privatize six more airports. All six airports that have been listed for the second round of the privatisation – Bhubaneswar, Varanasi, Indore, Trichy, Amritsar and Raipur – will, in all probability, be awarded to the Adani group.

The government has brushed aside the suggestions given by the ministry of finance to allegedly benefit Adani. Ministry of Finance had recommended that any company or corporate house will not be awarded more than two airports, but the Modi government is planning to lift the cap that will pave the way for Adani to win all the six airports after the “bidding”. If the Adani group gets all the six airports in this round, it will become the largest group managing and developing airports in India. BJP government is accused of selling off everything from roads to airports to natural resources and profit-making public-sector companies including railways and Bharat Petroleum. All workers unions have protested privatisation of airports including RSS-affiliated Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), but the Modi government did not pay any heed to their protest. It shows that the government’s priority is to benefit their corporate friends, not the common man.

Meanwhile, the Smart city plan is slowly walking into its death. Which external investor would want to invest in cities with dismal infrastructure (potholed and congested roads, inept public transport, poor Internet connectivity)? State Governments only launch those projects, which give them political mileage and help in image building for the next State elections.


(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])

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Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr. Vaidehi Taman is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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