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Revitalising 'India's Smart City Mission'

IBEF, Knowledge Centre

Mar 31, 2021 11:34

The ‘Smart City Mission' is a revolutionary project initiated by the Government of India in 2015 to transform the country's urban landscape. The primary goal of the govt. is to transform all Indian cities into smart cities by leveraging technologies and promoting local area development. The government plans to redevelop the existing areas, create livelihood for locals and develop new areas (e.g., greenfield areas) to accommodate the expanding urban population. Implementation of smart solutions in cities would entail deployment of technology, information and data to enhance infrastructure and improve services. Such a comprehensive development would improve the quality of life, generate employment and boost income for locals.

The government has selected 100 cities for area-based and pan-city development between 2019 and 2023. The following three-model approach was adopted for area-based smart city development:

Three-model approach



This includes planning in an existing built-up area (>500 acres) to establish robust infrastructure service levels and numerous smart applications.


This includes replacing the current built-up area (>50 acres) and allowing a new layout to be co-created using integrated land and increased density. For example, the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Project, Mumbai (the Bhendi Bazaar Project), and redevelopment of East Kidwai Nagar, New Delhi (undertaken by the National Building Construction Corporation).


This includes introduction of smart solutions in a previously vacant area (>250 acres) using innovative planning, financing and implementation tools (e.g., land pooling/reconstitution), with provision for affordable housing. For example, GIFT City in Gujarat.

In 2020, the total allocated investments for the ‘Smart City Mission’ stood at ~Rs. 205,018 crore (US$ 28.31 billion). Of the total investments, 5,331 projects worth ~Rs. 176,059 crore (US$ 24.31 billion)—86% of the total—have been tendered as of 2020. Work orders have been issued for 4,540 projects worth ~Rs. 139,969 crore (US$ 19.33 billion)—68% of the total—and 2,122 projects worth ~Rs. 34,986 crore (US$ 4.83 billion) have been completed (17% of the total) as of 2020.

Development of Various Sectors for 'Smart City Mission'




Health and Wellbeing

Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban)

The Union Budget 2021 announced allocation of Rs. 2,87,000 crore (US$ 39.36 billion) over the next five years for Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban). This will entail providing tap connections in 2.86 crore households, universal water supply in all 4,378 urban local bodies and liquid waste management in 500 AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) cities.



As of August 2020, the total OFC (optical-fibre cable) laid under the scheme is 449,400 kms.

Science and Technology

National Digital Communications Policy

Under the policy, the government aims to accomplish the following strategic objectives by 2022:

  • Broadband provisioning for everyone
  • Generate ~4 million employment opportunities in the field of digital communications

Other developments and progress as of 2020
Infrastructure implementation of ‘Smart Cities’ accelerated across the country in 2020.

Integrated command & control centres (ICCCs) to enable cities with evidence-based smart governance (operationalised in 53 cities and in-progress in 30 cities). An outlay of Rs. 15,000 crore (US$ 2.07 billion) investment has been earmarked for this. ICCCs are likely to be set up in all 100 Smart Cities by 2022.

  • Smart cities have completed >250 smart road projects to improve urban mobility and 415 projects are nearing completion with investments worth >Rs. 20,000 crore (US$ 2.76 billion).
  • In line with the mission, public–private partnerships (PPP) are expected to bring efficiency in the overall development of smart cities. 110 PPP projects have been completed and 203 projects are underway with investments worth ~Rs. 22,000 crore (US$ 3.04 billion).
    • Along with the government’s initiative, private companies such as Tech Mahindra and Amazon are also proactively working on this programme. In December 2019, Tech Mahindra, under the Smart City programme, won a project worth Rs. 500 crore (US$ 69.09 million) to develop Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), a township adjacent to Pune, Maharashtra.
  • 62 urban space projects have been completed, with an emphasis on city parks such as river/lake fronts, parks & playgrounds and tourism attractions, and 82 projects are in progress with investments worth > Rs. 8,000 crore (US$ 1.10 billion).
  • 85 smart water and 46 smart solar projects have been completed to make the cities more liveable and sustainable. The project pipeline includes 138 smart water and 36 smart solar projects.

The government has rolled out the following key programmes:

Key programmes


Ease of Living Index and Municipal Performance Index

Models for outcome and performance evaluation to measure the quality of life and effectiveness of cities have been implemented in 114 cities. As part of the Citizen Perception Survey, over 31 lakh citizens have actively engaged with the survey.

Urban Learning and Internship Programme (TULIP)

It aims to align opportunity for potential graduates in ULBs/smart cities with learning objectives. Over 13,000 internships have been registered by 284 Smart Cities/ULBs; of this, 828 candidates are interns and 81 have completed their internships.

DataSmart Cities and Data Maturity Assessment Framework (DMAF) 

To help cities build an ecosystem for data-driven governance. It was rolled out in the initial plan for 100 Smart Cities and now, the government plans to expand the ‘DataSmart Cities Strategy’ to 500 cities.

Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 

It was implemented in 100 cities to help cities look at urban planning and governance from a climate change viewpoint.

Open Data Platform/India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX)

The government plans to enable 500 cities with Open Data Platform/India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX).

Benefits under the ‘Smart City Mission’
The ‘Smart City Mission’ has played a significant role in implementing various measures during the pandemic to ensure ease of living for citizens.

Smart cities transformed into Covid-19 war rooms
The mission has helped ensure that Smart Cities remain at the forefront of leveraging technology to efficiently manage the COVID-19 crisis. As part of the initiative, >50 smart cities across Bangalore, Pune, Indore, Agra, Varanasi and Surat transformed their ICCCs into COVID-19 war rooms to aid various government departments dealing with COVID-19 responses. For example, in 24 hours, a model COVID war room was established in Bengaluru Smart City.

Key initiatives


Integrated dashboards to monitor COVID-19 hotspots


In cities such as Pune, Agra, Amritsar, Surat and Bengaluru, integrated dashboards were built for efficient decision-making, management of COVID hotspots, medical services, and monitoring movement of goods & services and lockdown operations.

Web-based/mobile applications for contact tracing


Smart cities such as Surat, Pune, Nagpur, Agra and Chennai leveraged web-based/mobile contact tracking and monitoring applications to trace and monitor COVID-19 infected people.

ICCCs for telemedicine


Smart cities such as Kanpur, Gwalior, Indore and Agra leveraged ICCCs for two-way interaction with dedicated telemedicine lines for consultation and patient therapy.

Drones to manage lockdown


To effectively manage COVID-19-induced lockdowns and monitor social distances in public spaces more effectively, Smart Cities leveraged smart communication networks and drones.

Open Data Platform/India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX)

The government plans to enable 500 cities with Open Data Platform/India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX).

Budget Allocation and Recent Initiatives
The Union Budget 2021 allocated Rs. 13,750 crore (US$ 1.90 billion) for the ‘Urban Rejuvenation Mission’—Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation ‘AMRUT’ and Smart Cities Mission. Out of the total, the Smart Cities Mission was allocated funds worth Rs. 6,450 crore (US$ 891.27 million) in a revision to the Union Budget 2020-21’s earlier estimate of Rs. 3,400 crore (US$ 469.82 million).

Recent initiatives

  • In the Union Budget 2021, the government announced to establish a fintech hub at GIFT City, Gujarat, to promote and develop fintech start-ups.
  • On February 23, 2021, the central government launched the ‘National Urban Digital Mission’ to establish a digital infrastructure to formalise a citizen-centric and ecosystem-driven approach to urban governance and service delivery in cities by 2022.
  • The ‘India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX)' initiative has been developed to provide a seamless interface for data providers and users for urban governance and service delivery. The initiative is a collaboration between the Smart Cities Mission and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
  • In February 2021, the NEC Corporation India announced to drive the ‘Smart City Mission’ for Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The company aims to complete the project by 2022.

Urban areas are expected to house 40% of India's population and contribute 75% to India's GDP by 2030. In India, the Smart Cities Mission is an initiative for urban city planning. The government, through its various programmes, is testing new products and initiatives to effectively implement ‘Smart Cities’. Initiatives such as the Smart Cities Forum gather collaborative insights from all relevant sectors for effective project planning and implementation. Also, private sector players are collaborating with cities to develop new products and services to respond to local needs.