“Work Smart Not Hard”!!! When our cities follow the same principle they are called ‘Smart Cities’. The traditional idea of ‘Smart Cities’ suggests that information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents The core Infrastructure elements that make a city smart are adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation, including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing especially for the poor, IT connectivity and digitalization, good governance especially e-governance and citizen participation, sustainable environment, storm water drains to reduce flooding, pedestrians, non-motorized and public transport facilities and parking spaces, safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly, and last but not the least good health and education.
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However the Modi government’s idea is a little different. The government suggests that ‘Smart Cities’ are those that are able to attract investments. With increasing urbanisation and the load on rural land, the government has realised the need for cities that can cope with the challenges of urban living and also be magnets for investment. The announcement of ‘100 smart cities’ falls in line with this vision. The cities with ongoing or proposed smart cities include Kochi in Kerala, Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Manesar in Delhi NCR, Khushkera in Rajasthan, Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Ponneri in Tamil Nadu and Tumkur in Karnataka. Many of these cities will include special investment regions or special economic zones with modified regulations and tax structures to make it attractive for foreign investment. However time factor is a challenge for ‘Smart Cities’ as they can take anything between 20-30 years to build.