The Government has proposed in its Budget speech to establish 100 smart cities across the nation, which is a very welcome step. However, the 100 smart cities scheme seems political eyewash.
It would actually serve no purpose in reducing large-scale rural migration to the existing cities, said Prof Digambara Patra of the American University of Beirut in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The non-resident Odia professor said that unless new cities are developed to accommodate the burgeoning number of people, the existing cities would soon become unlivable.
The influx of heavy population is absorbed mainly by a few mega cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Bangalore.
Nevertheless, when one looks at the list of 100 smart cities, the list indeed includes Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmadabad, etc. many of which are existing metro or tier II cities.
These are all large cities and if they are modernised they would not stop the rural-urban migration in India. Rather the Government should have taken the small cities in the list of the smart cities, he opined.
“Though your Government claims to reduce large scale migration to major cities from rural area, none of the 100 proposed cities exist in any of the rural area. In fact all of them are State capitals or existing commercial cities like Pune, Indore, Nagpur, Kochi, Cuttack, Rourkela etc,” he said.
The Government admits large scale migration from eastern and northern India as a major problem but at the same time, it forgets those eastern regions that suffer from rural migration.
KBK region in Odisha is well known nationally for large-scale labour and rural migration to various cities in India. Unfortunately, not a single town in KBK region has been included among the proposed 100 smart cities, he lamented.