Let us start with the basic question: What is a smart city? In India, when we use the term smart city, it refers to a city which is well-planned in terms of
- Structural layout
- Has transport and communication amenities
- Has natural resources
- Human capital
- Provide a good quality of life and
- Ensure the participation of citizens in its governance.
It also refers to a particular stage in the process of urbanisation – with access to business services, housing, lifestyle activities, and telecommunication services including the internet. A substantial information and communication technology network to backup the infrastructures and amenities is at the forefront of the idea of a smart city. In other words, a smart city is a business-led technologically-driven urban settlement.
The plan for new smart cities in Karnataka
The NDA government has recently announced its intention of developing 100 smart cities across India. These new suburban smart cities will be developed from existing mid-sized urban spaces closer to larger cities. Karnataka is set to receive Rs. 70 crore in the initial disbursement period to develop Tumkur as a smart city. In the second disbursement period the Bengaluru-Chennai corridor is set to jointly receive another Rs. 70 crore.
The implementation of Smart Cities has been the brain child of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The other proposed smart cities from Karnataka include:
Smart city at Tumkur
So, how will Karnataka benefit from having Tumkur as a smart city? Easy, the quiet academic city will take some of the pressure of Bengaluru. Decongesting Bengaluru and moving some of the leading businesses to Tumkur will help in dispersing the regional growth and population.
Bengaluru is reeling under water and electricity shortage problems. In recent months, the city management has also been dealing with the problem of garbage disposal.
Tumkur as a development hub
Situated 60 kilometres from Bengaluru, Tumkur is well connected to the capital by roadways and railways. The district of Tumkur has access to water and plenty of land for further development.
It is already an educational hub and there are industrial developments underway in and around the city. With its elevation to a smart city and with proper infrastructure in place, new tech parks can come up in the district. This will ensure that the graduates from the academic institutions in and around the district need not migrate to Bengaluru for jobs.
In addition, the district is the gateway to 17 other districts in the state of Karnataka. Increased connectivity, infrastructure and civic amenities in Tumkur will spill over to the neighbouring districts in the long run. It should help the current south-centred industrial and technological development in the state to spread to other areas.
The Bengaluru-Chennai corridor
The proposed Bengaluru- Chennai corridor development might not yield much to the development of the state in the current form. There are three cities planned along this corridor. There is already the existing Electronic city in the outskirts of Bengaluru; and in Tamilnadu, Hosur has seen a spat of development since the coming of the Bangalore International airport. There is not much land belonging to Karnataka beyond Bengaluru city before Hosur (which belongs to Tamilnadu).
However, the proposed new corridor will run through Bangarapet (Kolar) and Hoskote (rural Bangalore) in Karnataka, different from the existing route. In the long run this will bring in the advantages associated with development to two additional districts in the state. Traders, industrialists, politicians and urban development experts have welcomed the project because of these self-same benefits.
The proposed express way and dedicated freight corridor will benefit logistics. These in turn should give a boost to development of industrial belts along the route.
Additionally, the Karnataka government is pushing to extend the corridor to Mangalore. This will effectively make it a West to East seaport connectivity corridor. The corridor would have two seaports and three international airports along its length.
The feasibility of the proposed plan
Experts on urban development are of the opinion that to develop a basic sustainable socio-economic infrastructure that houses and serves 1 million people will require around Rs. 6,000 crore. The total allocation in the current budget is Rs. 7,060 crore for all the 100 smart cities. Let us hope that the interim budgets would allocate more money to the projects, thereby making the new smart cities a viable project in the foreseeable future.
The major challenge is to provide quality urban services such as 24×7 water supply, sanitation, drainage, solid waste management, sewage treatment.
Karnataka to get 6 Smart Cities
On August 28, 2015 the Central government announced the list of 98 cities and towns which would be developed into smart cities. The following 6 cities from Karnataka have made it to this elite list,