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Smart Cities Mission: With deadline looming, a status check

GS1 GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions

In News

  • As the June 2023 deadline for completing the Smart Cities Mission approaches, the government has requested that the 20 cities with the worst performance improve.
  • These 20 cities have completed the fewest projects as part of the mission.

Smart Cities Mission (SCM)


  • The Smart Cities Mission is an initiative of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs that was launched on June 25, 2015 by the Prime Minister.
  • It was requested that cities across the nation submit proposals for projects that would improve municipal services and make their communities more livable.
  • In five rounds between January 2016 and June 2018, the Ministry selected 100 cities for the Mission.

Four pillars:

  • Social Infrastructure,
  •  Physical Infrastructure,
  • Institutional Infrastructure,
  • Economic Infrastructure.


  • India is the second-most populous nation in the world.
  • 31% of India’s current population and approximately 63% of GDP are Indian (Census 2011).
  • By 2030, it is anticipated that 40% of India’s population will reside in urban areas, which will contribute approximately 75% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Objective & Significance:

  • To promote cities that provide core infrastructure and a decent quality of life for their residents, a clean and sustainable environment, and the implementation of ‘Smart’ Solutions.
  • The proposed projects ranged from making certain stretches of road more accessible and pedestrian-friendly to capital-intensive endeavours such as laying water pipelines and building sewage treatment plants.
  • Create livable, inclusive, and sustainable cities (Area-based development).
  • Create employment opportunities.

Integrated Command and Control Centres:

  • All one hundred cities have built Integrated Command and Control Centres to oversee all security, emergency, and municipal services.
  • During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, many cities converted these facilities into emergency response units.

Deadlines under the mission

  • The projects were originally scheduled to be completed within five years of the city’s selection; however, in 2021, the Ministry extended the deadline for all cities to June 2023.
  • The 100 cities have issued work orders for 7,799 projects as of March 2023. Of these, 5,399 have been completed, while the remaining projects are ongoing.
  • Fewer than twenty cities are likely to meet the June deadline; the remainder will require additional time.
  • Six cities from the Northeast, five Union Territories, and three state capitals are among the laggards.
  • The government has asked the 20 cities that have completed the fewest projects under the mission to improve their performance.


Smart cities mission is a challenging project. 

  • Every city faces its own unique set of obstacles, including infrastructure, city dynamics, behavioural norms, etc.
  • Infrastructure development:
  •  The development of large-scale infrastructure presents numerous obstacles.
  •  In a country like India, the greatest obstacles are the legal framework, policy inconsistency, and regulatory norms. They influence actual project execution.

Technical Constraints & Technological Obsoleteness: 

  • The smart city mission intends to utilise smart technologies to develop a smart city.
  • However, the majority of urban local governments lack the technical capacity to guarantee the development of smart cities.
  •  These technical and technological limitations impede the timely and cost-effective implementation of smart steps.

Financing For Project: 

Maintaining a steady flow of funds and finances for the smart cities mission is difficult. The majority of ULBs are not even financially self-sufficient.

  •  It can be difficult to secure adequate funding for the completion of a project and the ongoing maintenance of technological advancements in smart cities.


o Urbanizing public transportation for urban mobility is a challenge for the government due to the inadequacy of the urban transport system.

o Lack of investment, high population density, zoning restrictions, and poor urban planning have contributed to inadequate transit systems in Indian cities.

Government Initiatives to Support the SCM

Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT):

  • It was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development in June 2015. Its objective is to ensure that every household has access to a tap with a reliable water supply and a sewer connection.
  • To increase the amenity value of cities by creating and maintaining greenery and open spaces such as parks.
  • To reduce pollution by using public transportation or by building facilities for non-motorized transportation.

National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM): 

  • It will create a digital infrastructure for India’s urban areas.
  • It will support cities and towns across the three pillars of people, process, and platform.

National Urban Learning Platform (NULP): 

It aims to disseminate ongoing solutions and innovations and facilitate the rapid development of diverse new solutions developed by cities and states.

Ease of Living Index (EoLI): 

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs uses the EoLI to evaluate the quality of life and the impact of various urban development initiatives in the city.

India Smart Cities Awards Contest (ISAC): 

  • It was created to recognise cities, projects, and innovative ideas that promote “smart” city development.

The Urban Learning Internship Programme (TULIP): 

  • TULIP is a programme that provides recent graduates with opportunities for experiential learning in the urban sector.
  • It would increase the market value of India’s graduates and create a talent pool in diverse fields such as urban planning, transport engineering, environmental science, municipal finance, etc.

Way ahead

  • As India continues on its growth trajectory, the quality of its urbanisation will become crucial to ensuring that this growth is both sustainable and equitable.
  • The government must find a way to overcome these obstacles in order to realise the dream project of transforming more than 100 Indian cities into smart cities.
  • Successful execution of this mission necessitates a heightened emphasis on building capacities at all levels to learn new approaches and technologies and to be sensitised to new roles, responsibilities, and mindsets.


Daily Mains Question

 Discuss the significance of India’s Smart cities initiative. Analyze the obstacles encountered and potential solutions for implementing the Smart cities mission in India.