Edited by- Nirmal Anshu Ranjan, ENN
Even as the Government of India’s 100 Smart Cities project keeps making news day in and day out, the citizens in most of the cities are still groping for that ‘feel-good’ factor that the government can probably feel, but they can’t. On the contrary, they are yet to be provided some of the basic amenities they should have had long, long back.
For instance, recently, when the national capital experienced some rains and lots of trouble, people were thoroughly confused: what is more important, to build a smart city first or to put in place a proper drainage system? Well, most would agree that their questions were the answers.
The clichéd expression of ‘Smart Cities’ (yes, clichéd goes better with it) is just an idea, and unlike what a popular TV commercial says, “An idea can change your life”, this apparently half-baked idea is hardly potent enough to change the present state of affairs in urban India.
At present, big national and international firms, including Ricoh, Cisco, Vodafone, Accenture, Intel, HP and many more, are coming up with novel ideas to create these Smart Cities, which they have already done in certain pockets of the globe.
In addition, “Housing for all by 2022” was the pre-Lok Sabha poll slogan given by the now-in-power BJP. However, the question is once again no different: is it viable at all? The party in power had also promised the citizens of a ‘liveable environment’, where there would be all the basic facilities required for decent living. But, sadly though, it again remains a mirage.
It would not be wrong to say that our government literally lacks a feasibe ‘vision’. The notion of being and creating smart is vast, but what about the misery on the ground level, it’s still unseen. The government should first find ways to put to rest the citizens’ day-to-day worries of missing facilities in the existing cities before it goes ahead with the idea (to me it looks utopian at the moment) to create/develop 100 Smart Cities. That would make more sense.
I remember an instance when a popular Hindi news channel had declared Noida as the ‘Cleanest City’. I wonder, how, and on what parameters did it qualify to become the cleanest city? Was it just on of account sky-piercing buildings, mega shopping malls and imposing offices of multi-national companies? Once you come out of your home on a rainy day in these areas, the pot-holed roads, and dirt and filth all around pull the facade of ‘IT hub’ off.
And that is not all; in the heart of these posh localities and right in front of the ‘smart’ buildings (yeah, some are termed that way), one can see children with begging bowls rushing to the moving cars amid stench emanating from the nearby pile of garbage. As for the citizenry, people can be seen relishing sweet corns and throwing tea cups away most carelessly while criticising others doing the same.
Don’t we need a few ‘Smart Citizens’ before a ‘100 Smart Cities’?