Indias smart cities project, a vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been hailed in the country and domestic media alike for its sheer magnitude and ambition. The 100 smart cities are satellite towns of larger cities and will consist of modern infrastructure, which will be added to the existing mid-sized cities.
As an increasing number of Indian people move from villages to cities in search of opportunities, the government believes that this 70.6-billion-rupee plan will ensure a high quality of life to people comparable with any developed European city.
But in a country where millions are struggling to get by, the initiative has some observers wondering how people will be able to afford the expensive housing and living costs of smart cities. This has given rise to a debate: Is Indias smart cities project built to keep out the poor class?
One year on, there are still questions on what will constitute a smart city. According to a concept note released by the urban development ministry, smart cities will be the cities which have (intelligent) physical, social, institutional and economic infrastructure, which ensure centrality of citizens in a sustainable environment.
The project has already started 12 kilometers from the city of Ahmedabad with the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT). In the next five years, the place will boast of high rises with sparkling glass facades, and the river Sabarmati flowing nearby will feature clean blue water.
The technology will be such that human excrement will travel faster than most Indian trains, Indian journalist Manu Joseph reported in the New York Times. The buildings will be equipped with sophisticated surveillance, 24/7 electricity and clean water, and fast trains with automatic doors.
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