Barrier analysis for Smart City Mission, India: Focusing on water management and governance

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Submission Summary
Smart Cities Mission (SCM), India, launched in the year 2015 is the most eyed program of the country and is yet to meet its success of making 100 cities, ‘smart’ enough for its citizens. The program aims to build quality life and set pioneer cities on the roads of sustainable development. In this era of uncertainty and climate change, the mission also paths its way to sustainable water management in these cities. While the program is designed to offer self-organising and a resilient system to the cities it is important to take note of cities’ performance as well. In this context, the research follows a probe to identify- ‘how successfully SCM implements water sustainability throughout its hierarchy and achieve a resilient system for execution?’ The evaluation is divided into two sections, namely, the structure and the projects. The structure refers to the programme’s model developed by the Government in the form of mission guidelines, its framework, and strategy. While the projects, primarily are the ones prescribed in Smart City Plans (SCP) submitted by the cities. The study examines in detail the mission formation, execution timeline, and configures various SCPs developed by the cities. Specifically reflecting on the challenges that cities face during the programme implementation phase, the research compares the ‘water management component’ undertaken by various cities to decode- how far cities have tried to bring onboard innovative and sustainable water solutions? The study provides an overview of the institutional and regulatory implications that the lateral entry of a corporate cultured company (Special Purpose Vehicle in case of SCM) has over the existing municipal heritage. The investigation runs a root cause analysis to the mission's timeline and SCPs’ accomplishment, in order to assess its red tape areas. The study found that, since the dissemination of funds under SCM clearly depends on the number of projects cities implement, the incomparable geographies, varied needs, differences in capacities of cities, quality and scale of projects in SCPs have no place in the government’s smart city evaluation system. It was also noted, that amongst the 21% of the water sector-oriented projects mentioned in 100 smart city plans, nearly 40% were based on the use of technology or data-centric solutions. Sustainability of such tech-savvy projects lies on the stage called proof of concept, i.e. pilot testing, and validation of technology results. This becomes a hurdle, provided the limited workforce and technical capacity with the SPV/ ULB. Thus, pushing them to rely completely on the words of the third-party vendors and consultants. The concept of area-based development, the so-called role model for overall smart city development, is often linked to the extensively populated or chore areas of the cities. Consequently, inviting various delays rendered by land pooling or acquisition exercises, operational glitches, and sometimes opposition by the locals. Such multifaceted large-sized projects require comprehensive plans, socio-environmental assessments, techno-financial feasibility exercises, and curate well-informed mature tenders for the smooth continuum and success, which are often sidelined given the limited timeframe set against the government programmes. Findings of the study are aimed to be a catalyst for future initiatives of urban India that are devoid of such execution hurdles and governance setbacks. India, although, has had enough benchmarks to establish the quality of life in cities but lacks on monitoring the quality of the policies and programmes designed to guide cities. The study provides the tool to optimize the cohesion between several institutions involved in designing and implementing the policies at all governance levels through a simple yet effective way of ‘barrier analysis pyramid’.
Submission ID :
Submission Type
Submission Track
4: Safeguarding the Urban Resilience
Urban Planner
CEPT University, Ahmedabad
Associate Professor
CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India
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