“Extension of Smart City Mission by March 2025”

“Extension of Smart City Mission by March 2025”

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details of “Extension of Smart City Mission by March 2025” This topic is relevant to the “Polity and Governance” section of the UPSC—CSE Exam.


Why in the News?

The Central Government has announced an extension of the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) administered by the Union Urban Development Ministry until March 31, 2025. Launched in June 2015, the SCM selected 100 cities through a competitive process to transform them into smart cities. This initiative aims to develop specific areas within these cities as exemplary zones based on a comprehensive development plan. These developments are anticipated to have a ripple effect, positively impacting other parts of the cities and neighbouring urban areas.


More about the news:

  • The Smart Cities Mission (SCM) has seen significant progress, with more than 8,000 multisectoral projects underway across the 100 selected cities, totalling approximately ₹1.6 lakh crore. 
  • As of July 3, these cities have successfully completed 7,188 projects, amounting to ₹1,44,237 crore, which constitutes 90% of the total projects planned under the mission. 
  • According to an official statement released, the remaining 830 projects, valued at ₹19,926 crore, are in advanced stages of completion.
  • The mission, which was allocated a budget of ₹48,000 crore for these 100 cities, has already disbursed ₹46,585 crore, equivalent to 97% of the allotted funds.
  • Recognising the challenges faced by some states and city governments in completing the final 10% of projects, the Government of India has granted an extension of the mission until March 31, 2025. 
  • This extension, communicated to the cities, ensures the completion of these remaining projects without any additional financial burden beyond the approved allocations under the mission.


Smart City Mission:

  • The Smart Cities Mission (SCM), launched in June 2015, is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme aimed at transforming 100 cities by providing essential core infrastructure and creating a clean and sustainable environment. 
  • Aims to  improve the quality of life for citizens through the implementation of innovative “Smart Solutions.”
  •  Its objectives include enhancing livability through sustainable and inclusive development, promoting a clean environment, and applying compact, replicable models for urban growth.


Key Components of the SCM include:

  • Area-based Development:
  1.  Redevelopment: Renovation of existing urban areas to enhance infrastructure and amenities, such as Bhendi Bazar in Mumbai.
  2. Retrofitting: Upgrading infrastructure in current areas to improve efficiency and sustainability, as seen in Local Area Development projects in Ahmedabad.
  3. Greenfield Projects: Developing new urban areas with a focus on sustainability and smart technologies, for example, New Town in Kolkata and Naya Raipur, as well as GIFT City.

  • Pan-City Solutions:
  1. Implementing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions across sectors like e-governance, waste management, water management, energy management, urban mobility, and skill development.

Challenges Faced by the Smart City Mission

  • Lack of Clarity in Definition: The Smart Cities Mission (SCM) lacks a clear and universally accepted definition of what constitutes a smart city, leading to difficulties in resource allocation and project prioritisation.
  • Top-Down Approach: The mission has been criticised for its top-down approach, sidelining the role of elected representatives and local councils in decision-making processes, which raises concerns about democratic governance and accountability.
  • Flawed City Selection Process: Cities were selected competitively, overlooking the diverse urban realities of India and focusing development efforts on less than 1% of a city’s area. This has led to the exclusion of many areas from development efforts, such as in Chandigarh’s sector-specific investments.
  • Inadequate Funding and Scope: The funding allocated under SCM (Rs. 1,67,875 crore over nine years) is considered insufficient compared to the estimated USD 1.2 trillion needed to enhance livability in Indian cities by 2030. The mission has also faced multiple extensions, highlighting challenges and complexities in urban development.
  • Governance Structure Issues: The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) model adopted for smart cities has not aligned well with the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, leading to objections from cities regarding governance structures. Public-private partnerships (PPP) have also not been effectively utilised, with less than 5% of funding coming through this route.
  • Displacement and Social Impact: Smart city projects have led to social disruptions, including the displacement of vulnerable communities like street vendors. Infrastructure developments have sometimes exacerbated urban flooding issues due to improper water channel management.

Steps Needed to Strengthen the Smart City Mission:

  • Governance and Implementation:  Appoint dedicated CEOs with fixed tenures to ensure continuity and expertise in project management. Include Members of Parliament (MPs) in State-Level Advisory Forums to leverage grassroots expertise in project identification and implementation.
  • Project Focus and Priorities: Shift focus towards pan-city projects for comprehensive urban development, optimising resource allocation and minimising wastage. Establish robust digital infrastructure protection mechanisms to safeguard against cyber threats and ensure data privacy.
  • Capacity Building and Funding: Strengthen Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in smaller cities through capacity-building initiatives. Provide central government support for organisational restructuring and capacity-building efforts in states requiring assistance.
  • Project Completion: Emphasize timely completion of projects. The Ministry’s role should extend beyond fund allocation to include active intervention in project execution, providing necessary inputs and expertise to ensure successful completion.

Prelims Based Question:

Q. Smart City Mission comes under:

  1. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
  2. Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology
  3. Ministry of Home Affairs
  4. Ministry of Rural Development


Answer: A


Mains based Question:

Q. What challenges does India’s Smart Cities Mission encounter? How can challenges be addressed to enhance the mission’s effectiveness in fostering sustainable urban development?


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