By Rachel V. Thomas
Jaipur, Sep 26 (IANS) Lamenting that India’s urban affairs had been in a mess and in a neglected state for years, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, on Wednesday said that urban renaissance is the need of the hour which will help the country move forward economically.
He was speaking at the three-day international conference, “Smart City Expo India 2018”, organised here by trade fair institution Fira Barcelona in partnership with Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) and Quantela Inc — a digital technology solutions provider for smart cities.
“India’s urban affairs were in a mess, we had neglected it for years. Fortunately, now a new awareness has been created and the government has taken a lot of initiatives such as Smart Cities Mission (SCM), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), massive housing programmes, Swachh Bharat Mission and initiatives to promote public transport,” Naidu said.
“Urban renaissance — the realisation of the culture, tradition, rule of law, following civic rules, maintaining transparency, paying taxes, accountability, not encroaching anything, not obstructing anything — is the need of the hour,” he added.
Further, Naidu emphasised on the need to accelerate “the urban renewal (plan) that is taking place in the country”.
“India is on the move and we have been recognised internationally. People are willing to come and invest in India,” he added.
Noting that the people of the country are living now in an “aspirational” India, Naidu said that government’s move to ease foreign direct investments (FDIs) and creating special purpose vehicles (SPVs) are all designed to expedite the nation-building process.
Other initiatives such as Digital India and implementing GST will also help the country move forward economically, Naidu said.
On June 25, 2015, the Narendra Modi government unveiled the SCM, which was aimed at upgrading 100 cities with affordable housing, integrated multi-modal transport, creation and preservation of open spaces, and waste and traffic management systems, among others.
As part of the mission, the Union government agreed to give each of the cities Rs 100 crore every year for five years, with an equal contribution coming from the state government and the urban local body combined.
The project is being implemented through SPVs, instead of assigning the task to municipal corporations, and lays thrust on private investment.
“The proposed 100 smart cities will act as a lighthouse. They will inspire, motivate and encourage others to build more smart cities,” Naidu said.
According to him, a smart city is one that is liveable and lovable — a comfortable and happy place for the citizens.
Architectural planning of smart cities must have provisions for pedestrian passes, cycle tracks and more greenery, as that will enhance the health of citizens, Naidu said.
The first edition of the Smart City Expo India being held at Jaipur Exhibition and Convention Centre (JECC) aims to showcase innovation in the space of smart cities globally and help technological providers, town planners and administrators to discuss various aspects of techno administrative interventions to make cities smarter.
Nearly 6,000 delegates from Spain, Malawi, Hungary, Brazil, Egypt, Mauritius, South Africa, Argentina, Sierra Leone, Palestine and Lebanon are participating in the event.
(Rachel V Thomas is attending the Smart City Expo India 2018 at Jaipur at the invitation of Cisco. She can be contacted at [email protected])