While going to sleep everyday, I have a habit of scrolling through the headlines of the day. One topic which has constantly made headlines over the months and has caught our attention is the central government’s ambitious smart cities project. The utterance of the word smart city makes one imagine his city transforming from its current shabby, ugly state to an embodiment of excellence. For majority people, smartness in cities can be optimally described as just comfortable living with the help of technology. But when we researched more information regarding this, we realised that introducing smartness involves numerous ideas that go beyond this definition of smart cities. Efficiency, sustainability, safety, transport systems, planning, affordability, recycling and reuse, healthcare, good governance, education, disaster preparedness, traffic control, energy and water management, all of this also contributes to the smartness of a city. So without any further ado, let’s address the elephant in the room!
There is no universally accepted definition of a Smart City. It means different things to different people. The conceptualisation of Smart City, therefore, varies from city to city and country to country, depending on the level of development, willingness to change and reform, resources and aspirations of the city residents. A Smart City would have a different connotation in India than, say, Europe. Even in India, there is no one way of defining a Smart City.
Some definitional boundaries are required to guide cities in the Mission. In the imagination of any city dweller in India, the picture of a Smart City contains a wish list of infrastructure and services that describes his or her level of aspiration. To provide for the aspirations and needs of the citizens, urban planners ideally aim at developing the entire urban eco-system, which is represented by the four pillars of comprehensive development — institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure. This can be a long term goal and cities can work towards developing such comprehensive infrastructure incrementally, adding on layers of ‘smartness’.
As India’s population continues to grow, more citizens will move to cities. It is predicted that 25-30 people will migrate every minute to major Indian cities from rural areas in search of better livelihood and better lifestyles. It is estimated that by the year 2050, the number of people living in Indian cities will touch 843 million.To accommodate this massive urbanization, India needs to find smarter ways to manage complexities, reduce expenses, increase efficiency and improve the quality of life. Hence comes the Need Of The Hour: Smartness. Some of the goals that will be fulfilled in this mission will be :
List of smart cities selected can be found here.
Government has allocated funds of INR 70.6 Billion to achieve the set targets.The implementation of the Mission at the City level will be done by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created for the purpose. The SPV will plan, appraise, approve, release funds, implement, manage, operate, monitor and evaluate the Smart City development projects. Each Smart City will have a SPV which will be headed by a full time CEO and have nominees of Central Government, State Government and ULB on its Board. The States/ULBs shall ensure that,
(a) a dedicated and substantial revenue stream is made available to the SPV so as to make it self sustainable and could evolve its own creditworthiness for raising additional resources from the market and
(b) Government contribution for Smart City is used only to create infrastructure that has public benefit outcomes. The execution of projects may be done through joint ventures, subsidiaries, public-private partnership (PPP), turnkey contracts, etc. suitably dovetailed with revenue streams.
The Mission will cover 100 cities and its duration will be five years (FY2015-16 to FY2019- 20). The Mission may be continued thereafter in the light of an evaluation to be done by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and incorporating the learnings into the Mission.
In the coming years, especially with the establishment of "smart cities', the role of civil engineers in the years to come will be crucial. There are not enough civil engineers to meet this challenge. According to a 2011 study, while the country would be needing around 1.3 1akh civil engineers, only 60,000 are being produced, As government opens up FDI in construction, the requirement for civil engineers coupled with high quality, durability and standards, will be more. New building materials such as geo-polymer concrete will replace the traditional cement, sand materials. The way civll engineers build, the way they use builiding materials willl have to change without affecting the environment while ensuring safety, durability of the building structures. Eminently, the core responsibility of structural implementation of smart cities lies on the civil engineers.
So that was all one needs to know about the “Smart Cities” mission. We, at Aakaar 2016, believe that we can be a medium, irrespective of its magnitude, wherein the ideas that are presented in our festival can be channelised to support this mission.This mission, if completed successfully within the prescribed period of time,will give a glimmer of hope to millions of Indians who aspire to see their country’s living standards match the global ones, toe to toe. Hence, throughout the year, each of our events will quintessentially revolve around our theme for the year 2016 - "Need Of The Hour: Smartness".
AAKAAR aims at creating a platform to compete, learn and promote Civil Engineering amongst the education fraternity through Competitions, Events and ICES, IIT Bombay (research paper conference) and also to make a festival of all and for all the Civil Engineering students.