Challenges of Smart Cities in India
In 2015, the central government of India added a new dimension to urbanisation and urban development policy and introduced the concept of smart cities. In the beginning, the concept was not elaborated, and questions arose such as: What does inclusive development of the selected cities mean? Could they correct the spatial and structural imbalance of urban development in India? The government took almost a year to define smart cities and identify about 100 such smart cities for integrated urban development. To start with, only 20 such cities were taken up for planning and development in 2016. Independent India inherited a spatially and structurally imbalanced urban development dominated by large cities (metropolises, megacities, etc.); there was a lack of small and medium-sized towns. To achieve a balanced urban development, in 1974, the government introduced the concept of integrated development of small and medium-sized towns so as to reorient the rural–urban migration away from large-size cities. The policy continues even now but has had limited success in urban development. In the 1980s, the Urbanisation Commission suggested the development of selected urban areas that had potential for development. However, large-sized cities grew unabatingly and migration towards the metropolitan cities continued. Because of the weak economic base, small and medium-sized towns could not keep pace with the urbanisation process. The latest population Census of India (Provisional population totals, Paper-2, Vol 1 Rural-urban distribution, India, 2011) analysed the urbanisation pattern in the country. It shows that India has achieved a 31.16% level of urbanisation with an annual growth rate of 2.76%. There are 7,935 urban areas with an urban population of 377.1 million and 466 cities having a population of more than a hundred thousand (100,000). The urbanisation pattern in India has been supported by the development of the tertiary sector of the economy rather than backed by commensurate economic growth. In 2011, about ten megacities dominated the urban structure, accounting for more than 20% of urban population while the share of the small and medium-sized towns remained low. Urban growth has shifted spatially from metropolitan cities (megacities) to peripheral urban areas with rapid horizontal expansion of the metropolitan areas (urban fringes). Whether this urbanisation trend could be regulated is an open question. The role of smart cities in urban development has been examined in the context of their sustainability, inclusive growth and aspiration of the citizen.
KeywordsSmart cities Urbanisation India
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