India in talks with World Bank for Smart City funding

The World Bank is in talks with the Indian government to provide some initial funding for the latter’s smart cities programme and the Amrut initiative for urban revitalisation.

“The World Bank is in discussions with the (India) government to provide some funding in the initial stages for the smart cities and Amrut (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) programmes,” the bank’s country director Onno Ruhl told reporters here on Thursday.

He was speaking at the launch of a World Bank report on urbanisation, titled “Leveraging Urbanisation in South Asia: Managing Spatial Transformation for Prosperity and Livability”, released by visiting World Bank managing director and chief operations officer Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

“India’s urbanisation drive will be the biggest of its kind in the next 30 years. The government’s implementing of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations will help in devolving finances to states for the programme,” Ruhl said.

The report says South Asia’s urban population grew by 130 million between 2000-11, and is poised to rise by almost 250 million by 2030.

“Cities in South Asia are not fulfilling their potential for transforming their economies, putting enormous demands on their infrastructure, as in Mumbai which I just visited,” Indrawati said.

“The World Bank can help by citing examples of cities dealing successfully with various issues, to provide clarity and accountability,” she added.

The report says policymakers must address three “fundamental urban governance deficits” by way of empowerment of urban governments, providing them adequate resources and stregthening mechanisms to hold them accountable.

Meanwhile, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) on Thursday outlined its vision to build its area into a Smart City, making efficient use of scarce resources like water and energy.

NDMC chairman Naresh Kumar briefed Urban Development and Housing Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on how the capital’s smallest civic body planned to transform its territory into a Smart City, an NDMC statement said.

Kumar said the NDMC be turned into an efficient, livable and sustainable urban area, with efficient use of scarce resources like water and energy, and smart mobility and governance.

The project will also involve smart LED lighting, harvesting solar power, Wifi services, smart video surveillance, intelligent parking and water management.

“NDMC (also) proposed to include smart social and economic infrastructure which includes smart hospitals, smart schools, skill development, integrated solid waste management.”

Naidu asked the NDMC to adhere to strict timelines to complete the project. He also called upon NDMC to have an inclusive Smart City Plan to focus on slum redevelopment.

The NDMC is the smallest of civic bodies in the national capital, and covers an area that covers the offices and residences of Indian leaders as well as some major landmarks.