Urbanization in India is racing fast –albeit by the unorganized process of peripheral expansions of cities and towns often. The Cabinet clearance of two groups of projects – one of 100 smart cities and 500 modern cities – is a step towards realization of a vision of modern living in India. It appears JNNURM has metamorphosed into AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transportation).
Presumably, the smart cities would be Greenfield projects given the near impossibility of imposing or integrating the high-tech infrastructure on existing cities. These would be long term projects and offer immense scope for investments – both public and private. There are several alternative, and often inconsistent, ideas of ‘smart cities’ but central to the vision is urban infrastructure managed by digital capabilities – most likely using cloud computing technologies. Obviously, such city management scenario requires integration of computing and communication technology with most physical infrastructure. ‘Sensors’ from the physical world will trigger actions by computerized automated management system. Within the ambit of the system will come water supply, electricity distribution, waste collection, transportation system, cooking gas supply, health services delivery, government services, business transactions, and movement of agricultural and other supplies and so on. For example, the physical infrastructure for solid waste collection from homes would consist of a high powered suction pipe network activated according to pre-determined aggregate load. The collected garbage will be filtered and separated electromechanically or pneumatically and then processed – all by computerized control system that is without manual involvement. These futuristic cities are expected to conserve energy, keep ambience clean healthy and promote collective efficiency and also encourage knowledge based economy.