Cities must be smart to address urbanisation challenges: Naidu

Jaipur: Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu today said the country’s cities in need to be smart to address the challenges of increasing urbanisation through improved service delivery, enhanced efficiency, improved transparency and accountability.

Informing that urbanisation in India brings with it a host of environmental and humanitarian challenges, from pollution to lack of civic amenities, he said the government’s focus regarding to the Smart Cities Mission is on sustainable and inclusive development.

The Union urban development minister was addressing a seminar on ‘Smart City Development – Opportunities and Support towards Infrastructure Development’, organised by Indo- American Chamber of Commerce here.

“The objective of the mission has been to look at compact areas, create replicable models which will act as lighthouse to other aspiring cities. Technology plays an important role in addressing these challenges and technological innovation will become an integral part of urban planning, governance and management in days to come,” Naidu said.

He said the country’s urban population is projected to increase from 370 million in 2015 to 590 million in 2030 and this unprecedented expansion would change the economic, social, and political landscape of the nation.

Naidu said, “The US, through the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) partnered with three cities — Vizag, Ajmer and Allahabad — to provide support for Smart Cities’ development in India.”

Informing that the Smart Cities Mission creates ample investment opportunities, the minister said, “Domestic and foreign investors interested in public-private partnerships in many sectors look for opportunities in IT infrastructure, energy management, environmental sustainability, GIS mapping, engineering, and sanitation.”

Private players have played an important role in the development of India’s smart cities, he said.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of Architects Regional Council Asia Forum 2017 here, Naidu said the government has taken several initiatives for a paradigm shift in approach to urban development.

He said the government has launched several missions and schemes including AMRUT, Smart Cities mission, Swachh Bharat Mission, National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) for urban infrastructure development.

“There is a major churning happening at the level of urban local bodies, setting off the process of urban renaissance in the country,” the minister said.

Naidu said his ministry has laid down the Model Building Bye Laws with 14 features including rain water harvesting, risk based classification of building, structural safety and segregated sanitations facilities for visitors in public buildings.

On the Real Estate Act, the minister said it is the most far reaching legislation enacted by Parliament seeking to safeguard the interests of lakhs of home buyers across the country.

“The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 seeks to create an environment of boosting investor confidence by clearly defining the roles and obligations of both the buyers and developers so that the sector can flourish with transparency, accountability and efficiency,” Naidu said.