The ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is organizing a two-day Apex Conference on Smart Cities Project here on February 26-27. The conference will deliberate on various initiative in regard of Smart Cities Mission.
Discussion will be held on subjects like :Ease of Living—How Smart Cities Mission is making an impact on ease of living for citizens; Connected Communities—How Smart Cities Mission is creating Connected Communities; Urban Resilience and Sustainability—How Smart Cities Mission is making Indian cities resilient and sustainable; Smart Governance—How Smart Cities Mission is creating a Smart Governance ecosystem in Indian cities etc.Over 130 experts from several countries will participate in the conference. The Conference is expected to chart out a roadmap for implementing Smart Cities mission.
Many new initiatives have been undertaken and the Mission has made a significant stride towards achieving its goals. A brief of some key new initiates are given below. A few others will be unveiled during the 2nd Apex conference at New Delhi.
- The Ministry has released ‘Ease of Living Index, 2018’on August 13, 2018. The framework developed to measure ‘Ease of Living’ covers all pillars of urban development (Physical, Institutional, Social and Economic) and uses 78 indicators across 15 categories. The indicators, ranking of cities, report and analytics on Ease of Living Index are available in public domain at easeofliving.niua.org.
The Ease of Living Index seeks to help cities assess their liveability vis-à-vis national and global benchmarks. It is to enable cities to leverage this knowledge to formulate plans and prioritise investments. Ease of Living assessment standards are linked to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of United Nations (UN).
- The India Smart Cities Fellowship (ISCF) and India Smart Cities Internship (ISCI) programmes were launched on 9 July 2018.
The India Smart Cities Fellowship Program seeks to engage young graduates/post-graduates and PhDs in the fields of urban planning, design, engineering, information and technology, mobility, finance, social sector and environmental issues for a period of one year, extendable upto three years. This Program is designed to provide valuable experience to the youth interested in smart cities specifically, and urban renewal sector in general to bring in new ideas, passion and energy to the challenging work of implementing cutting edge, high-impact solutions to key urban problems. This programme ultimately aims at cultivating young leaders, strengthening their understanding of Indian urban sector and preparing them for greater leadership roles in future. The first batch of Fellows has already been selected.
The India Smart Cities Internship (ISCI) programme seeks to engage students pursuing Undergraduate / Graduate / Post- Graduate Degrees from recognized Universities/Institutions from India or abroad, as “Interns” for a period of six to twelve weeks. This programme aims at giving exposure to the interns in various areas of urban development like planning, design, engineering, information and technology, mobility, finance, social sector and environmental issues under Smart Cities Mission.
- The Smart Cities Digital Payments Awards 2018 is an initiative of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to promote ease of living for India’s urban residents. The objective of these awards is to guide, motivate, recognize and reward the Smart Cities for promoting digital payments and carrying out innovative payment initiatives in their respective cities through a two-stage Challenge process. This not only aims to reward Smart Cities at the forefront of digital payments but also to encourage other cities to follow suite and strengthen their digital payments infrastructure, create awareness through promotion of digital payments amongst all stakeholders and to provide citizens with multiple options to make digital transactions. The evaluation process for awards is at an advanced stage.
- An all-India Challenge named CITIIS (Cities Investments to Innovate Integrate and Sustain) was launched on July 9, 2018 in partnership with AgenceFrançaise de Développement (AFD) and European Union. A Loan of EUR 100 million will be extended by AgenceFrançaise de Développement (AFD), which shall be given as a grant to Smart Cities for implementation of 15 innovative projects selected through the All-India Challenge. The projects would be in four sectors- sustainable mobility, public open spaces, urban governance & ICT and social and organizational innovation in low-income settlements. Technical support with global expertise will be provided for preparation and implementation of selected demonstrative projects. A preparatory Workshop on CITIIS was held with international experts in September 2018. Proposals submitted by cities are under evaluation.
The first Apex conference of the Smart City CEOs was organized in Bhopal on 7th and 8th of May 2018. The conference was attended by 77 Smart City CEOs across India. Around 300 participants from smart cities, industries, funding organizations and multilateral agencies participated in the conference.
The focus of the conferencewas on speedy implementation of the projects. A key strategy promoted for the purpose involved following sound project management practices, preparing milestones and timelines to help avoid time overruns, and focus on the issuance of tenders.
At the time of the first apex conference of Smart City CEOs in Bhopal the progress of the mission was as follows: tenders had been issued for 1,330 projects valued at Rs 49,497 crore and work orders issued for 936 projects worth Rs 30,428 another 310 projects worth Rs 4908 were completed. At that time 99 cities were selected in the mission out of which SPVs were formed in 91 cities, Smart Cities Advisory Forums were formed in only 53 cities and PMC were appointed in 67 cities.
Since then the Mission has not only accelerated the pace of implementation, it has also unveiled many path breaking initiatives. All 100 smart cities have now been selected, with all 100 SPVs, all 100 Smart Cities Advisory Forums and all PMCs in place.
Tenders have been issued for 2,998 projects of worth Rs. 1,15,027 crore, work orders have been issued for 2,226 projects of worth Rs. 71,417 crore and 682 projects have been completed worth Rs. 12,227 crore. There is 132% increase in value of projects tendered 149% increase in the value of projects completed, 135% increase in value of projects implemented and since the first apex conference. The focus on speedy implementation apparently bore fruit!
This conference, the CITIIS program was announced where AgenceFrançaise de Développment (AFD) offered funding to selected Smart City projects through a challenge process. Euro 100 million were made available to finance 30-80 selected projects, and Euro 6 million for technical support. The process of selection of projects in the CITIIS initiative has been completed and the projects have since been selected.
The CEOs were requested to complete liveability survey and to use the resulting data for evidence based planning. The first liveability Index has since been published and now available to all.
A suggestion was mooted during this conference that the Mission also institutes a fellowship programme to offer young professional an opportunity to work on and learn from various aspects of the Mission. This suggestion was taken on board and in less than a year from them 38 fellows have been selected, given training to and deployed already!