THE BLOG

Winners Of Smart Cities Challenge Usher In The Future Of Indian Urban Development

28/01/2016 5:42 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
NEW! HIGHLIGHT AND SHARE
Highlight text to share via Facebook and Twitter
AthulKrishnan via Getty Images
The changing landscape of Chennai (India). Seen here is a building under construction near Elliot's Beach in Chennai.

Today, 28 January, marks the announcement of the first set of winners of the Smart Cities Challenge, a competition devised by the Government of India to encourage bottom-up innovation and inspire cities to work with local citizens to identify and address key priorities that will impact future growth, jobs, and the quality of life in our urban areas.

It is a historic moment for India. For the first time, central government funds are being distributed through a competitive process. Developed in partnership with former Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg and his foundation Bloomberg Philanthropies, The India Smart Cities Challenge has inspired a new approach for cities across the country to formulate their own unique vision, mission and Smart City proposal. Participating cities are engaging citizens in new and exciting ways, developing stronger Smart City proposals, and matriculating through a process that will ensure that the cities selected are best positioned to realise gains.

In all of the 20 winners, we see the benefits of cities working alongside their citizens and developing solutions in cooperation with local residents.

We now see the results of this work in the winning proposals. We see it in Pune, where citizens wanted clearer streets and improved public transport - the city is planning a new bus system with brand new, cleaner buses and a radical redesign of the city's streets to make them more walkable and people-friendly. In Delhi, Connaught Place's inner circle will be pedestrianised to create a more enjoyable central area for Delhiites to work, shop, and enjoy. In all of the 20 winners announced today, we see the benefits of cities working alongside their citizens and developing solutions in cooperation with local residents.

These smart solutions are vital to India's future. Our economy is growing in parallel with our place in the world, and this is reflected in our booming urban centres. We are experiencing urbanisation at an extraordinary rate with people pouring into cities every day. The 2011 Census reported an urban population of 377 million people, 50 million more than the total population of the United States. Estimates suggest this will increase to 590 million by 2030. On current trajectory, within a generation India will be an urban majority country. Housing, transporting, and employing this generation will be the great global urban test of our age.

We are delivering on programmes to ensure that each and every one of India's urban residents will be able to share in the country's success.

Our government is up to this challenge. Under the strong leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we are delivering on programmes to ensure that each and every one of India's urban residents will be able to share in the country's success. Our vision to address this great test is already beginning to show results. The Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) will revolutionise infrastructure across 500 cities, Housing for All will give the urban poor across India the homes they need, and the National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) will preserve and revitalise the soul of fine heritage cities. These programmes are designed to answer the key questions posed by our extraordinary urban growth.

During the Smart Cities Challenge, our cities and citizens have shown us that they too are ready with their own answers. On MyGov, our government portal for citizen engagement, 2.5 million Indians submitted their thoughts, suggestions, and ideas for improving their own areas and quality of life. Our winners today all saw huge responses and insightful engagement from their citizens. Bhopal and Indore both saw over 170,000 people contribute their ideas online - with many more replying in person after a door-to-door campaign covering the whole city. Bhubaneswar went to extraordinary lengths to ensure all of their community, including at risk groups, had an opportunity to contribute to their Smart City plan. Overall, many millions of people in all of the competing cities across submitted their ideas in person and online to hundreds of thousands of municipal officials and local volunteers.

During the Smart Cities Challenge, our cities and citizens have shown us that they too are ready with their own answers.

Of course this is just the start, but today's winning Smart Cities and their plans are a great signpost to the future roadmap for India's development. Bottom up, not top down. Confident, not cynical. Looking forward, not back.

The Smart Cities Challenge has unearthed the best ideas to improve lives across India and shown the way forward for the new era of India's growth. It is now up to our cities to seize this opportunity.

Like Us On Facebook |
Follow Us On Twitter |
Contact HuffPost India

Also see on HuffPost:

Eco-Friendly Indian Products

More On This Topic