Private players to play a key role
The concept of Smart Cities has not been defined anywhere. It is, in fact, different for different cities. The Central Government has picked up seven cities from Madhya Pradesh, among 98 others, to be transformed into Smart Cities. All the chosen cities have been given a time period of three months for preparing their future plans. Depending on the quality of proposals submitted by the ULBs, as many as 20 cities will be selected in the first year, 40 in the next year while remaining 40 in the subsequent year. For any city, proposal making is the most crucial process and many global players have evinced their interests to help materialize the project. As per the MoUD guidelines, things will be reviewed after every two years. So, the cities are going to compete with each other. Some of the key parameters in the competition includes credibility of implementation, citizens’ participation, finance mechanism innovativeness and scalability of smart solutions and robustness of development process. The smart city venture won’t be solely the government’s, but would also allow partial private stake holdings.
Solid waste biggest concern for ULBsz
The selection process of Smart Cities project is very democratic and scientific. We hold responsibility to take it as a mission and implement it effectively. However, solid waste management is one of the biggest challenges for the civic bodies nowadays. In Jhansi, we have opted plastic waste management and waste-tocompost model. There is a proper mechanism of ‘collect door-to-door plastic waste’, for which we have engaged the ragpickers. We have sensitized citizens to collect plastic waste of an entire month and inform the civic body to get it collected from their houses. In the next stage, the waste is transported to the process center and segregated into the biodegradable and recyclable category. Finally, it is disposed as per the environment concerns. We are producing manure out of bio-waste and liquid compost is also being produced to sprinkle on vegetables, flowers and lawns. Smartness comes from the self and people’s participation. The competition, which has been introduced among the ULBs, has enlightened us towards the core aspects of Smart Cities.
Citizens’ participation key to success
Smart City is an issue of utmost importance not only for the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), but also for the government bodies and private players involved in urban planning and development. There is no doubt that Smart Cities should be created but villages should also be made smarter at the same time. The Government of Madhya Pradesh is looking forward in this direction and providing basic amenities in villages to prevent migration from rural parts to urban areas. We have to assess city-specific requirements before implementing Smart Cities plan and citizens’ participation will play a key role in developing these cities.
ULBs must be financially strengthened
On the lines of telecom sector, we can create a smart movement in the proposed Smart Cities. Telecom service is available in the far flung and remote areas today while with the increasing population and migration, tax and revenues are also going up. Over the years, the cost of lands has also been escalating. Tax increment financing is an important component, but it has not been understood deeply. Abroad, land owner can take loan as per the increased cost of land. Property and other taxes should also be realized properly. Also, we have to identify our resources and assets— physical and financial. Green financing will help one to get easy and long-term financing, which is the need of the hour. India is the only country that is working on creating green funds. We should also focus on new construction for Smart Cities, but first thing to become smart is, using optimum resources and managing the assets.