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Urbanization

India’s Smart Cities Mission: Smart for Whom? Cities for Whom?

Author : Housing and Land Rights Network | 2016 |
Published By: Housing and Land Rights Network

Not a day goes by in India without some news related to the Smart Cities Mission, which aims to create 100 ‘smart cities’ in the country by the year 2020. The Mission, one of the most publicized among the many slogan-led schemes of the National Democratic Alliance government, is characterized by ambitious goals, large planned investments, multiple private sector actors, and new governance structures induced by the corporatization of cities. As the Mission completes two years this month (June 2017), now is a good time to examine how it has unfolded and what exactly it means for India’s urban population, especially for the majority of city inhabitants — the ones who make cities and keep them functioning. Housing and Land Rights Network, India (HLRN), therefore, decided to undertake a human rights review of the process and the guidelines of the Smart Cities Mission as well as of the 60 selected Smart City Proposals. Half of the world’s most-polluted cities are in India, one in six urban residents lives in an inadequate settlement (‘slum’), a third of India’s urban population does not have access to tap water, and 84 per cent of urban Indians still do not have access to a toilet. Given this reality, the critical question is whether the country should first focus on creating 100 high-tech urban enclaves or on prioritizing—for every resident— the provision of sufficient and potable water; adequate sanitation services; the highest attainable standard of health; adequate and secure housing; a clean and healthy environment; safe spaces to play, walk, and work in; accessible public transport; and security for women, minorities, and children? There is, thus, a need to evaluate the validity of the Smart Cities Mission as well as the model of development that it envisages.

URL : 20170809013959.pdf

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