When the Modi government launched the Smart Cities Mission— aimed at developing 100 smart cities over five years — in 2015, it was touted as the biggest urban reform in India. Two years later, the project has not moved much. Not even the selection of cities is complete. The lack of preparation and enthusiasm on part of cities has delayed the process. So far, the government has announced only 90 cities out of 100. But with the New Town Kolkata recently pulling out of the competition, the effective total is 89.
Stakeholders fear that at this rate the mission will lose track. But brushing aside all criticism, former secretary of the ministry of urban development Rajiv Gauba says, “The criticism is very unfair. The work that has been done in the last two years needs to be acknowledged. Significant progress has taken place.”
About the delay, he says, “Urbanisation is a complex process and will take its time. In the last three months, we have visited 22 states to take stock of the mission. We are doing things differently this time”.