Reforms to Accelerate the Development of India’ s Smart Cities is a report prepared by the World Economic Forum, focusing on the challenges rising from the fast urbanization trends in India during the last years. As stated in the report, the rapid increase in India’ s urban population has not been accompanied by a similar transformation in urban infrastructure and service delivery capabilities.
Apart from the specification of challenges, that include institutional, business environment and sector-specific issues, a comprehensive framework is also presented in order to propose a set of recommendations in order to address them.
Starting from a brief description regarding the urbanization problem that India faces nowadays, challenges in urban areas are categorized, encompassing a wide range of aspects, such as governance, healthcare, education, built environment, mobility etc. Governmental initiatives such as Smart Cities Mission, presented in a previous post, are highlighted as area-based development strategies, aiming at improving quality of life through retrofitting, redevelopment or greenfield.
Other challenges referring to urban transformation are also presented in the report. Regarding the institutional sector, some of the main issues to address include stakeholders’ readiness, leadership with limited powers, inadequate revenue base, poor collaboration among planning and administrative bodies, archaic processes and insufficient capacity. Moreover, business environment issues refer to obtaining environmental clearances and licenses, acquiring land, managing the procurement process, promoting public-private policy frameworks, resolving disputes and accessing information. A number of case studies are presented, illustrating examples of successful initiatives implemented through a number of Indian cities.
Dedicated effort will be required by all stakeholders to create an environment where a balance is achieved between the private sector’ s goal to achieve maximum returns and the public sector’ s goal to achieve social welfare at minimum cost. Such an environment cannot be created over a short span of time and will require sustained effort over a long period. The effort will be worth it as it will reduce the gaps in service delivery and will benefit society in general, and its vulnerable sections in particular. It is hoped that cities in India will accelerate the reform process to accelerate the development of infrastructure and services.
Read the full report here.