It’s a scenario of a dream come true for all – Wi-Fi, digitisation, pouring water and power supplies, quick mobility, e-governance, sizzling entertainment for the asking, affordable housing, and everything else for a comfortable living. For real estate, it will be a situation of eternal opportunities! Come SmartCities! Come the most bustling zones!
By Vishal Duggal and Sujeet Kumar Jha
Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his vision of developing hundred smart cities across the
country, everyone is speculating around the upcoming scenarios pertaining to the development of these bustling locations. As the term ‘Smart Cities’ has become a new buzzword, there are some pertinent questions such as: what does it really mean to be a “Smart City”? What is the Smart City Mission all about? A Smart City is studded with robust IT, connectivity and digitisation, besides adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, efficient urban mobility & public transport, e-governance with citizen participation, sustainable
environment at affordable costs. The Smart Cities Mission is an urban renewal programme by the Government of India with a mission to develop 100 cities all over the country making them citizen-friendly and sustainable.
The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities. All these 100 Smart Cities are planned to be developed as
satellite towns of larger cities and by modernizing the existing mid-sized cities. In the first list of Smart Cities, 20 major cities were selected, one each from 20 states and now the second list is out in which 13 more cities
have been chosen from another 13 states. Interestingly, in the second list most of the cities which have been listed to be developed as Smart Cities are located in areas which have seen very little real estate development, since, most of these cities lie in the eastern and northeastern regions of the country which have largely remained aloof from any large-scale development. Now let us also consider the implementation part of the Government’s ambitious Smart City mission, particularly in the newly-selected 20+13 locations in which
except Lucknow, Faridabad, Chandigarh and New Town (in Kolkata) all the other locations have seen very little real estate development. It will be a real challenge. Most of the Indian cities have developed over time in an unplanned way and if the upcoming new Smart Cities are to be raised from the existing cities which lack even the basic infrastructure then it will definitely be a Herculean task. On the contrary, developing a totally new city on the plan of Smart Cities may be easy. Moreover, the upcoming Smart Cities must also establish radically new standards to ensure the effective use of technology to deliver services and manage complex civic problems as the demand factor for mega housing and urban development will also gradually shift to these
upcoming new locations. Therefore, the developers of Smart Cities will have to benchmark their cities against the very best cities globally. Fast track policy implementation is the need of the hour and in the course of development in these far flung areas, several local factors will also play a key role. So, the respective state governments should pull up their socks to enforce all the necessary changes in a time-bound manner. In all these upcoming Smart Cities, first of all, a comprehensive urban development plan with holistic look at the local issues will be required. Moreover, for the burgeoning urban population which may shift to these locations,
the respective state governments will have to formulate a decent public housing plan in these upcoming Smart Cities. Simultaneously, they will have to develop a better system for awarding works to contractors with a good track record. Of course, achieving such development is a mammoth target which will also require participation from the private players through PPP (public-private partnership) model. Real estate and infrastructure sector
bigwigs have high hopes spinning around all the latest announcements pertaining to Smart Cities development.
If all goes well, the upcoming new Smart Cities will lead to newer areas of growth for the real estate sector that may lead to the revival of demand in real estate market across the country. The real estate sector will also be benefited by the expected growth in market size. Even the adjoining cities of these locations will also be
benefited by the development and the expected demand for the development of mega housing clusters in these new areas will open new avenues of growth for the real estate sector. Property Expert spoke to a galaxy of real
estate stakeholders to know their views on the emergence of these new Smart Cities in areas which have not yet been exposed to real estate development. Excerpts: