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  • Three years into implementation, the central government's Smart Cities Mission has gained significant traction. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has selected 100 cities since the launch of the mission in July 2015. Together, these cities offer a pipeline of 4,500 projects entailing an investment of over Rs 2 trillion.
  • The selected cities are finally beginning to make headway. Almost 90 per cent of the cities have incorporated special purpose vehicles for project implementation. Meanwhile, 69 cities have appointed project management consultants.
  • However, project implementation progress continues to be slow. About 20 per cent of the projects are under implementation and only 4 per cent have been completed. Another 400 projects worth about Rs 200 billion are at the tendering stage. 
  • A number of issues have contributed to the slow progress. Since the majority of the smart cities involve transforming the existing cities, retrofitting legacy infrastructure is a challenge. 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 are some of the other key challenges.
  • Meanwhile, there remains a lacuna in financing, which is expected to be addressed through funding from municipal bonds, value capture financing and private participation. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are expected to make a substantial contribution towards bridging the funding gap. As of June 2018, 98 projects worth about Rs 60 billion are being implemented on a PPP basis. Vadodara and Nagpur have reported substantial progress on the implementation of these projects.
  • Innovative technology-led initiatives are being implemented across cities. Key cities such as Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Surat, Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai have launched initiatives for the deployment of advanced communications systems, intelligent transit management systems, smart meters, GIS and GPRS for solid waste management, online billing systems, mobile-based complaint redressal systems, etc. Ten cities have commissioned integrated command and control centres to provide a single interface for multiple solutions.
  • As far as priority sector interventions are concerned, over 30 cities have already initiated the development of smart roads, 37 cities have initiated smart water projects and 47 cities have initiated solar projects. Architectural, landscaping and city beautification projects have been initiated in 40 cities.
  • Meanwhile, convergence with other programmes like AMRUT will augment the financial capability of the urban local bodies. Several cities have also opted for the evaluation of their credit worthiness and over 150 cities have been rated investment grade.
  • Going forward, the development of smart cities such as Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, Naya Raipur and Lavasa will serve as models for other cities. Globally, too, learning can be drawn from the experience of cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Copenhagen. In fact, India has collaborated with several international agencies to gain technical expertise in this domain. These include MoUs with Canada, Belgium, South Korea, Singapore, the UK and Sweden.
  • The Smart Cities Mission will go a long way in developing core infrastructure services in India's urban centres. This also creates opportunities for various stakeholders such as project developers and equipment providers. The majority of the opportunities both in terms of number of projects and investments will be offered under Round III. Round I, II, and Fast Track cities offer immediate opportunity in projects that are at the DPR stage.
  • The mission of this conference is to track the progress of the programme, highlight the upcoming opportunities, outline execution strategies and examine the future outlook. The conference will also showcase successful case studies as well as noteworthy solutions and technologies.
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