India’s ambitious plan to build 100 smart cities could face formidable challenges, some of which are unique to the country.
Much hype and excitement surrounds India’s plan to build 100 smart cities, with 20 already selected in the first, competitive round. The government plans to invest $7.6 billion in these cities with more funding to be raised from private companies and through monetization of services. The second round of the smart cities program starts in April.
Each of the selected cities has identified discrete areas that will serve as prototypes for other regions. They include solid waste management, security, health care, traffic management, parking and even crowd management during festivities. Running themes across the projects are the use of IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation.
To be sure, the cities have their work cut out—not only do they have to translate proposals into specific project requirements, but they also have to find and manage the funds for the projects and ensure a transparent process that promises regulatory predictability and a line of sight on returns for investors. They also have to contend with circumstances unique to India, such as the lack of a deep enough secondary corporate bond market for investors to freely enter and exit, often fractious relationships between state and city governments, and time-consuming public works processes, among others. To read more click here.