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The Smart Cities Mission (SCM) was launched in 2015, and was meant to conclude in five years. Centre for Financial Accountability has been researching and documenting various aspects of the mission. Reports are currently available on the financing of the mission and the role of international financial institutions in promoting and financing the mission. City-level studies have been conducted at Indore, Bhopal, Tumakuru and Bhubaneswar. One is currently ongoing, of Nagpur.

Given the continuous engagement with this mission, it was appropriate that a status review of SCM be undertaken, to estimate its accomplishments at the time when it was slated for completion. Recent reports suggest that the mission has been extended to 2023. This report was planned to be ready by 2020, when the mission would have ended – the pandemic, however, put paid to efforts to complete this study in that time.

SCM is a significant programme not only for the creation of urban infrastructure, but also for instituting institutional and governance structures in urban areas that were radical departures from the past. The mandatory creation of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) as units autonomous of Urban Local Bodies for implementation of projects was a considerable leap. Earlier national urban renewal programs like the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) had not made such stark changes in governance.

When JNNURM was launched in FY 2005-06, the Union government had committed to an allocation of Rs. 66,085 crore over a seven-year period for 65 cities. The total cost would be divided in the given ratios — such as for cities with 4 million plus population and for cities with million plus but less than 4 million population, the Centre’s share and state/ ULB share was 50:50, for cities/towns in the northeast, 90:10, and for other cities, 80:20. In contrast, the Smart Cities Mission saw a total of Rs. 96,000 crore committed by the Union and state governments, in 50:50 ratio for 100 cities.

This report is aimed at assessing the targets set under the mission; and what has been achieved so far. Parameters such funds released by Centre and states, utilization of these funds, project completion rates, round-wise city level performances, projects implemented under Public Private Partnerships (PPP), and project data available on the India Investment Grid website are considered in this report. A thorough and complete assessment of SCM would involve asking fundamental questions about the need for these projects; questions of whom they are meant to benefit, and whether decision-making on choice of projects and priorities accorded to them was democratic. The ecological cost of the projects, not just their financial cost, ought to have been considered – a full assessment would consider whether the projects were ecologically sound, and whether public resources were indeed put to the service of the larger good. These larger questions have not been the focus of this document, since the aim here is to narrow the discussion to the terms set by the Mission itself, and to assess the performance on the basis of the aims set out at the launch of the SCM.

The data used for the study has been accessed from the Smart Cities Mission website dashboard to project a national picture of the status of work under the mission. The plotting of data on graphs and charts helps in better visualization of the progress under the mission.

More granular city-level data in terms of the kind of projects being tendered, implemented and completed would have offered insights into the progress of the project in different cities. Union and state fund utilization status for these projects, private sector participation, impacts on communities, public service delivery, etc would have been useful to consider. Time and resources, however, did not allow for such granular data, so those lie outside the scope of the present report. We hope to bring out more reports that will offer fuller treatment of those questions, with more detailed studies.

Read and download the resource here: 7 Years of Smart City Missions in India – A Review

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