MUMBAI, 2nd February, 2016: The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken on the challenge of creating 100 Smart Cities by 2022. These Smart Cities will be powered by Information Technology: will have high-speed internet connectivity, e-governance along with quality infrastructure such as waste management and efficient public transport. The Prime Minister referred to Smart Cities as those with “very high quality of life comparable with any developed European city”.
Reacting to the first list of 20 Cities which was announced on 28 January 2016, Niranjan Hiranandani, MD, Hiranandani Communities said, “It is a positive step which the Government has taken. This process will improve the living standards of Indians by working on creating better infrastructure for urban India,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, MD, Hiranandani Communities. “For the first time, the Government is working towards a better living standard for its citizens by focusing on better infrastructure in urban India,” he said. The 20 cities will be the first ones to start on the road to becoming Smart Cities, another round of announcements will take place in April this year, so those cities which have not been named in this first list need not lose hope.
The impact of the Smart City initiative will be massive. It will not just ensure that cities offer citizens better living standards, but also ensure that neighbouring urban conglomerations will also gain by being situated close to the Smart Cities. In the process, real estate development will undergo a makeover: integrated townships where ‘walk to work and walk back home’ will increasingly be a part of the new development model. The focus will also have to be on mass rapid transport, so that new areas can be developed in the periphery of the Smart Cities, added Niranjan Hiranandani.
Maharashtra has Pune and Solapur in the ‘first 20’ list, expected names like Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Navi Mumbai and Mumbai are not included. “If we look at the initiatives of the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, be it ‘ease of doing business’ or ‘Make in Maharashtra’, he has already chalked out ambitious plans which include infrastructure development and transport linkages. So, Mumbai and cities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) already have their ‘Smart Status’ as being ‘work in progress’,” said Niranjan Hiranandani.
He elucidated: take the Nhava – Sewree Trans-Harbour Link; the Coastal Road in Mumbai; initiatives to develop water-ways as an alternative transport option; steps to expedite the Navi Mumbai airport; the commencing of passenger services along the Karjat – Panvel section of the Central Railway, Metro lines across different locations in the MMR, a train terminus in Panvel, the inauguration of the fourth terminal of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust as also the upgrading of the Sion-Panvel Expressway: be it road-rail-air-sea, in Mumbai and the MMR, major projects on all four means of transport are on the ‘fast track’ and this is having a positive impact. “These signal the positives that the region is already on way to creating. Being nominated as a Smart City would obviously have been good, but for Mumbai and the MMR, the existing projects offer a similar scenario,” he added.
“The cities not named in the list of ‘first 20’ have been asked to get back to the drawing board, focus on deficiencies and prepare for Round 2 of announcements in April, so effectively, it is not a lost cause,” said Niranjan Hiranandani. “And yet, given the dedication of the Maharashtra Chief Minister and his support to the on-going projects in Mumbai and the MMR, the process of becoming ‘Smart’ might already have started off,” he concluded