‘Smart cities initiative will push mindset change’

New Delhi, Sep 2:

A change in mindsets will be a “significant outcome” of the government’s smart cities initiative and the NITI Aayog will be the “facilitator” of this change, eminent economist Bibek Debroy said here Wednesday.

Pic Courtesy: www.huffingtonpost.in
Pic Courtesy: www.huffingtonpost.in

“Urbanisation is inevitable, but resource utilisation has been inefficient. The Smart Cities Mission is rightly positioned to enable better planning for our cities. Mind-set change will be a significant outcome of this initiative on smart cities and NITI will be a facilitator of this change,” Debroy, a member of the body that has replaced the Planning Commission said at a workshop here on finding solutions to the various challenges that India’s urban local bodies (ULBs) face in developing smart cities.

A report proposing a Reference Framework for Smart Cities, prepared by Bengaluru’s Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) was also released at the event, orgganised by NITI Aayong.

“Cities require good governance, rules, laws and regulations. For our cities to become smart, they need to be based on collaboration, innovation and transparency. Niti Aayog will work towards achieving this with state governments to through an outcome focused approach,” NITI Aayog CEO Sindhushree Khullar said.

Opening the workshop, CSTP chairman V.S. Arunachalam said: “To be smart, Indian towns and cities have to solve many problems common to our cities and there is merit in our working together. The solutions are going to be similar and with innovations we should be able to develop solutions that are made for India.”

The workshop was attended by nearly 100 representatives from 27 states belonging to urban development departments of the state government and municipal corporations of various cities. Some of the key concerns raised by them included the lack of implementation of the 74th constitution amendment (devolution of power to states), the need for capacity-building in all aspects of smart cities (from concept to implementation), private sector participation in the Mission, slum and poverty management, position and powers of special purpose vehicles (SPVs).

The CSTEP report, ‘Reconceptualising Smart Cities: A Reference Framework for India’, comes in response to the multitude of questions, concerns and challenges that have featured in public debates in India since the announcement of the Smart Cities Mission and other urban development initiatives by the Narendra Modi government.

It proposes a reference framework for smart cities that offers directions for sustainable ways of city planning to both practitioners and theorists. The framework is based on the four guiding principles of well-being, equity, efficiency and foresight, derived from the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The framework primarily aims to crystallise future pathways for smart city development in India. (IANS)

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