Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Letter to PM: Government’s identified smart cities do not serve the purpose

Dear Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Modi,
The Govt. has proposed in its budget speech to establish 100 smart cities across the nation, which is a very welcome step, however, the proposed 100 smart cities presented by finance minister seems like a political eyewash rather than actually serving the purpose of reducing large-scale rural migration to existing cities.

The budget of your Govt. describes that “The Prime Minister’s vision of developing 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities by modernizing the existing mid-sized cities…unless new cities are developed to accommodate the burgeoning number of people, the existing cities would soon become unlivable.”

Further, the Govt. very well realizes that increasing population burden on existing cities has been a major challenge and criticizes previous Government’s lack of proper vision on how to provide a better quality of life to the urban population. It adds migration of large number of job seekers from rural India, especially from northern and eastern States, highlights the gravity of situation. 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 trier II cities.

It is confusing when the prime minister claim to modernize mid-size cities but in actual the Govt. has selected large size cities, some of which are among the largest cities in the world and are the actual reasons of existing problems.

Though your Govt’s budget 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 in state capitals or existing commercial cities like Pune, Indore, Nagpur, Kochi, Cuttack, Rourkela etc.

The Government admits large-scale migration from eastern and northern India, at the same time the Govt. forgets those eastern regions that suffer from rural migration. KBK region in Odisha is well known nationally for large-scale labor and rural migration to various cities in India. Often KBK region has been in news, unfortunately, not a single town in KBK region has been included among the proposed 100 smart cities when the state capital, Bhubaneswar, is located above 400 km from many parts of KBK region. Bhawanipatna is located centrally among the KBK districts; at least one town from KBK region could be included in the list.

On the other hand twin cities like Ahmedabad –Gandhi nagar, Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, etc. is included separately for the proposed smart cities. Such twin cities could be very well developed together as a large single conglomerate with metro facilities rather than separate entities.

Unless the Govt. takes a corrective step, the present identification of the proposed smart cities is clear eyewash to improve infrastructure of existing metro, state capitals, and trier II and III cities for the benefit of real estate mafia in those cities across the nation. Such proposal may help in few extent to improve infrastructure of the existing cities, however, it will at the same time increase further large-scale migration to the same cities without meeting the actual objectives of the proposed smart cities.

Anticipating your appropriate correction in this matter

Thank you and best regards

Digambara Patra

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