A Smart City

A smart city is a technologically modern urban area that predominantly uses Information and Communication Technologies to promote sustainable development of rapidly growing urban problems with the active participation of the citizens. It is an innovative approach aimed at promoting economic growth and improving the quality of life.

India is reported to house 31 % of its population in the urban areas (Census 2011) and the population is expected to increase to 40%. Thus, comprehensive development of infrastructure is required to improve the quality of life. In 2015 the Government of India launched the Smart city campaign to improve livability and sustainability.

Pune: A Smart City

Pune Smart City Infrastructure: Did it succeed? - Sheet1
Smart City Initiatives_©Smartcity

A list was announced citing the top 100 smart cities of which Pune was ranked second. A manufacturing powerhouse and IT hub, Pune had several points to its favor which led to its selection in the smart city list.

The strengths include:

  1. Strongest human capital and economic growth engine in the country. Nicknamed as the Oxford of the East, Pune is the education hub and has joined the IT revolution by being the 2 nd largest software hub in India.
  2. Pune has sufficient water levels at an aggregate level.
  3. The cultural capital of Maharashtra and has thriving arts and craft culture.
  4. Pune Municipal Corporation(PMC)has been instrumental in providing core urban services such as electricity, water to the city.

However, it has areas of improvement such as:

  1. An increase in the number of private vehicles and lack of public transportation has led to a significant rise in traffic congestion in the city.
  2. Although the city has adequate water resources there is an unequal distribution of water.
  3. The housing conditions have also to be reassessed as 28% of the city’s population live in slums.
  4. Decreasing tree cover and level of oxygen due to lack of open space.
Illustration depicting the roads of the Smart city_©TimesOfIndia

Vision of Smart City

Pune claimed to have engaged over 60% of its population in its smart city initiative and continues to contact meetings.

  1. Few successful projects which have been led successfully through citizen-led input are
  2. Smart and sustainable street lighting solutions, controlled from a command center, create safer neighborhoods.
  3. The world’s first dock-less, bike-sharing platform operated via the mobile app was implemented successfully.
  4. Project to develop vacant lot spaces to provide smart services through placemaking.

Other projects under the initiative include:

  1. Transit hub that includes metro and Bus Rapid Transit System.
  2. A massive river rejuvenation project.

The results of Pune’s smart city concept are gaining accolades from around the world.

Positive Steps towards Success

Pune claimed to have engaged over 60% of its population in its smart city initiative and continues to contact meetings.

Few successful projects which have been led successfully through citizen-led input are

  1. Smart and sustainable street lighting solutions, controlled from a command center, creates safer neighborhoods.
  2. The world’s first dock-less, bike-sharing platform operated via mobile app was implemented successfully.
  3. Project to develop vacant lot spaces to provide smart services through placemaking.

Other projects under the initiative include:

  1. Transit hub that includes metro and Bus Rapid Transit System.
  2. A massive river rejuvenation project.

The results of Pune’s smart city concept are gaining accolades from around the world.

Criticism

Few aspects of the project however have met with criticism such as how the Smart Cities Mission grossly overlooked serious issues related to forced migration to urban areas as mentioned in “India’s Smart Cities Mission: Smart for Whom? Cities for Whom?”.

Other negative aspects include revised commercial roads with more footpaths and less carriageway has led to failure in solving problems related to traffic congestion. Promised 100 e-buses,100 c rickshaws and 8 km BRT to Hinjewadi have not been materialized. Many of the gardens promised to be built have been made yet.

The mission has often been criticized for being too ambitious. “Many studies show that the majority of the cities have sent proposals that are beyond their own capacity”.In the recent smart city rankings, declared by the Smart City Mission under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Pune has fallen from its second rank, attained in 2019, to now a 28th position. The opposition of the government remarked, “Nothing has been done under the initiative of the Smart City without sidewalk development only. Aundh, Baner, Balewadi were included in the area development.”

Success or Failure ?

Pune declared that it has failed to complete the smart city initiative within the stipulated time as 49% of the total projects were undertaken. However, slow and steady steps have been undertaken and though the city is not fit to be called a “Smart City” at the moment with the right infrastructure, funds, and active participation of the citizens, the dream might one day turn into reality.

References: Akshay Badwe,Chaitraly Deshmukh. (28 th August,2020)” Smart City Mission: Pune drops to 28th rank; no development in Aundh, Baner says opposition”Accessed via business-standard.com                

Author

A student of PMCA Cuttack. She believes nothing is black or white but grey. Like the meaning of her name, she is in quest of her grey; the perfect balance in life be it through her words or design. Her love for architecture, history, and baking best describes her.

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