Navi Mumbai’s Smart City Mission

Ashali Bhandari, Mumbai Community Manager
Mumbai, 6 May 2016

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has developed a plethora of schemes focused on urban development over the last two years. They have highlighted the urgency to create better quality urban spaces for Indian city dwellers. One such initiative, the Smart Cities Mission, proposes integrating technology with infrastructure as the panacea for poor quality of life in urban areas. While the Mission has evolved since its inception in 2015, the mission aims to "provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens"through the application of 'smart' solutions.

The Ministry of Urban Development highlights that smart solutions include both technology and governance, citing examples of “smart solutions” as: better management of waste to compost and recycling water in cities, energy efficient buildings and renewable energy use, smart parking and intelligent traffic management, smart meters to measure water consumption and quality, and tele-medicine and education.

The Smart City Mission will be implemented in 100 existing cities in India, with cities across the country competing with each other for financing. As of now the first 20 final cities have been selected. In order to finance the retrofitting of cities, the government has allocated Rs. 500 crore (approx. $7.5 million) per smart city. This will be supplemented with public-private partnerships and municipal funds.

Neither Mumbai nor its satellite city, Navi Mumbai, were selected in the first phase of the competition as a finalist in the Smart City Mission. Many parts of Navi Mumbai are not eligible to be part of the Smart City Mission as sections of the city are not run by a municipality, but instead by the City and Development Corporation (CIDCO), a planning authority. CIDCO has thus created its own blueprint to convert the city into a smart city without financing from the central government.

CIDCO’s plan for Navi Mumbai is reminiscent of the Central Government’s Smart City Mission. Through the use of integrated technology, they too plan to improve citizen participation, environmental conditions, safety, health, education, and urban mobility without such a strong focus on infrastructure development. Proposed smart solutions include e-governance, better digital connectivity, corruption reporting, smart lighting, air and noise quality measurement, CCTV surveillance, the creation of public health hotspots, electronic medical records, smart traffic management, and free broadband Wi-Fi in educational institutions.

CIDCO explicitly states that technology is an “enabler” to better urban planning. Through various initiatives, they hope to integrate data and citizen feedback into the planning process, making the city more inclusive and management more transparent. CIDCO plans to self fund this project with an initial investment of Rs. 2000 cr but only time will tell if smart solutions will improve the quality of life for Navi Mumbai’s residents.

Photo credit: gentlesound

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