Smart City to Smart Colony
The Smart City plan has shifted to building “satellite towns” and “modernising existing mid-sized cities”, to focussing on “compact areas within existing cities”, and then to creating a “replicable model” which would “inspire similar urban regeneration across the nation”. Budget allocations too have been shrinking year after year (this year’s budgeted spend is under ₹4,000 crore). Four years into the experiment, the pace of change has been glacial, racked by controversies and corruption scandals, and looks set to degenerate into the kind of usual pork barrel politics that we are wearily familiar with.
Is there a way to fix this? Yes, there is, but the change will have to start from the ground up. We are nearly a $2.5 trillion economy now, and money is not really the problem. The way it is spent is, and that is largely shaped by the way our cities are run.
The kind of municipal administration system bequeathed to us by the British is no longer working. Elected representatives are hardly representative; the bureaucracy is not even remotely accountable. This has to be drastically altered. From planning to budgeting, to spending, priorities need to be arrived at by a more democratic and inclusive process than what we have now. In this age of technology and near-universal connectivity, that’s not as difficult as it looks. In fact, a truly ‘smart’ city would make it easy. more
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Elected representatives must be made to interact with the people of his/her constituency regularly and resolve the issues. And many more related issues. more