Skip to main content

Experts agree govt lacks clarity on Smart City: Project involving Gujarat's CEPT, Leeds and Cape Town univs launched

Counterview Desk
#Gujarat’s prestigious CEPT University’s Centre for Urban Equity has joined hands with the Leeds University, UK, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa, in a major research project on smart cities amidst experts at a seminar in #Ahmedabad on the project agreeing that the Government of India lacks any clarity on how to identify a particular city as “smart”.
Titled “#Smart cities: Urban Utopias or the Future of Cities?”, the seminar concept note distributed said, “When access to reliable electricity, clean drinking water or safe sanitary facilities and public transport remain beyond reach for too many people; will the ‘smart cities’ agenda outshines some of these basic needs in Indian cities or will ensure efficient delivery of the same?”
Headed by three experts, Prof Ayona Datta from Leeds, Prof Rutul Joshi from CEPT, and Prof Nancy Odendaal from Cape Town, this was the first of the seminars for project, in which planning professionals, academicians, researchers and civil society activists took part. Several of those who participated insisted that the talk of 100 smart cities was “political”.
Prof Datta said that a “fiction” is being sought to be created around smart city by citing urbanization as an business model, calling smart city a public purpose in order to acquire land from agriculturists, and defining smartness of cities only in terms of information and communication technology (#ICT).
Prof Datta quoted a well-known pro-Narendra #Modi economist, Laveesh Bhandari, who, at a seminar in January 2015, had talked of what smart city should be like. He had said that the poor should be kept out of it in two ways, through “prices and policing”. While “the prices will automatically be higher in such cities, the notion that they will be low cost is flawed”, the police will need to “physically exclude people from such cities” as here there will “a different set of laws from those operating in the rest of India”.
CEPT University’s Prof Bhargav Adhvaryu cited a study which he carried out among the protagonists of smart city to suggest that ICT actually ranks pretty low in the list of nine benchmarks which are cited as important components of a smart city, which included landscaping, environment, transport, energy, social infrastructure etc.
A former Gujarat government official, Vijay Anadkat, who is with Embarq, a not-for-profit initiative of the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank in Washington, DC, suggested he doubted if private participation, as claimed by Government of India, could be cornerstone of smart cities.
Involved in the past with the Jawaharlal Nehru National Renewal Mission (#JNNURM), which has been “dropped” by the Government of India in favour of smart cities, Anadkat said, of the 552 JNNURM projects taken up in the country, only 48 could be peripherally called as involving public-private partnership (PPP). “Even here, the private involvement was limited to management contract”, he asserted.
Anadkat also pointed towards how finances are going to be huge problem in the smart city project. “We estimate that Rs 3.35 lakh crore is what is required for infrastructure development of India’s cities. But what is allocated is Rs 48,000 crore for 100 smart cities and Rs 50,000 crore for Amrut, an urban scheme for another 500 towns”, he said.
Prof Janaki Nair, who made a presentation on development of Bangaluru city, said, she found “speculative urbanism” as the main hallmark of urbanization taking place between Bangaluru and Mysore. There are opponents of urbanization between the two cities, but they are all real estate developers, she asserted, adding, none of them have “interests” in agriculture.
Social activist Persis Ginwala, associated with the land rights movement in Gujarat, said, the Government of India effort to “corporatize” cities through the smart city concept looks strange and wishy-washy. The government is efficiently putting forward the need to involve private sector in every walk of life at a time when it does wish to carry out its basic duty, of taking care of health, education, and other basic infrastructure needed for the poorer sections, she added.

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.