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  • In the past couple of years, smart cities have been a key focus area of the Indian government. Till date, 90 cities have been selected by the Ministry of Urban Development under the Smart Cities Mission launched in July 2015. In Round I, 20 cities were selected, followed by 13 in the Fast Track Round and 27 in Round II. Recently, in June 2017, another 30 cities were selected under Round III. Together, these 90 cities will entail investments worth over Rs 1.2 trillion..

  • The selected cities have begun to make some headway, though there is still a long way to go. About 55 cities have incorporated city-level special purpose vehicles (SPV) for implementing projects. Further, 23 cities have appointed project management consultants (PMCs). Requests for proposals for appointing PMCs have been floated in another 22 cities.
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  • As of June 2017, about 800 projects (Rs 340 billion) have been identified by the 60 cities selected under Round I, Fast Track Competition and Round II. However, the progress has been slow with nearly 80 per cent of these projects still at the DPR or tendering stage. Projects worth only about Rs 10 billion have been completed while projects worth about Rs 45 billion are under implementation.

  • Meanwhile, several cities have begun deploying smart technologies to efficiently provide civic services. Cities such as Hyderabad, Surat, Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai have launched initiatives for the deployment of advanced communications systems, intelligent traffic management systems, smart meters, GIS and GPRS for solid waste management, online billing systems, mobile-based complaint redressal systems, etc.

  • At the same time, several new smart cities such as Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, Naya Raipur and Lavasa are already being developed as model cities through private sector participation. In addition, seven smart cities are under development as part of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.

  • The concept of smart cities is not new globally. There are a number of successful case studies in Europe, such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Copenhagen, from which experience can be drawn. In fact, the Indian government has already collaborated with several international agencies and companies for technical assistance. These include International Enterprise Singapore, the US Trade and Development Agency, the French Agency for Development, the German House for Research and Innovation, SCANIA, Sweden and Xylem, USA.

  • Efforts are also being made to mobilise funds through innovative financing models. A total of 94 cities have been accorded credit ratings to garner investor interest. Of these, 55 have a rating of BBB and above. Another noteworthy step has been the introduction of the value capture financing (VCF) model in February 2017. The globally used model is based on the government's right to claim a part of the increase in asset value resulting from its investments.

  • There are, however, a number of issues and concerns that continue to slow down the uptake of projects. These include delays in the clearance and approval of projects, lack of coordination between different stakeholders, poor financial health of urban local bodies, and lack of investments in capacity building.

  • The mission of this conference is to analyse recent trends and developments, highlight the key opportunities, discuss execution strategies and examine the future outlook for smart cities. The conference will showcase global case studies as well as noteworthy solutions and technologies. It will also provide a platform to share experiences and exchange views and opinions.
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