Smart Cities Mission (SCM)

Smart Cities Mission (SCM)

  1. Introduction
  2. Objectives
  3. Mission strategy
  4. Core infrastructure
  5. Coverage and Duration
  6. Financing
  7. Progress
  8. Challenges
  9. Way forward
  10. Conclusion


  • The Smart Cities Mission is an innovative and new initiative by the Government of India to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local development and harnessing technology as a means to create smart outcomes for citizens.
  • ‘Smart city’ is a city equipped with basic infrastructure to give a decent quality of life, a clean and sustainable environment through application of some smart solutions.
  • It includes basic infrastructure like adequate water supply, electricity supply, sustainable sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility, affordable housing and ensuring robust IT connectivity and e-governance.
  • Smart Cities focus on their most pressing needs and on the greatest opportunities to improve lives.
  • They tap a range of approaches – digital and information technologies, urban planning best practices, public-private partnerships, and policy change – to make a difference. They always put people first.


  1. In the approach to the Smart Cities Mission, the objective is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions.
  2. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and the idea is to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act like a light house to other aspiring cities.
  3. The Smart Cities Mission is meant to set examples that can be replicated both within and outside the Smart City, catalysing the creation of similar Smart Cities in various regions and parts of the country.


Pan-city initiative in which at least one Smart Solution is applied city-wide

Develop areas step-by-step – three models of area-based developments

  1. Retrofitting,
  2. Redevelopment,
  3. Greenfield

The core infrastructure elements

  1. Adequate water supply,
  2. Assured electricity supply,
  3. Sanitation, including solid waste management,
  4. Efficient urban mobility and public transport,
  5. Affordable housing, especially for the poor,
  6. Robust IT connectivity and digitalization,
  7. Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation,
  8. Sustainable environment,
  9. Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly, and
  10. Health and education.


  • The Mission will cover 100 cities and its duration will be five years (FY2015-16 to FY2019-20).
  • The Mission may be continued thereafter in the light of an evaluation to be done by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and incorporating the learnings into the Mission.


  • The Smart City Mission will be operated as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) and the Central Government proposes to give financial support to the Mission to the extent of Rs. 48,000 crores over five years i.e. on an average Rs. 100 crore per city per year.
  • An equal amount, on a matching basis, will have to be contributed by the State/ULB; therefore, nearly Rupees one lakh crore of Government/ULB funds will be available for Smart Cities development.

Smart Cities Mission (SCM)


  • After three years of the announcement, 89 cities have been selected, but with little to show in urban transformation.
  • There are a few cities that have taken the task seriously. Pune has begun by raising funds through the issuance of municipal ‘smart city’ bonds.
  • Bhubaneswar has launched a railway multi-modal hub, a hi-tech transport signal system and an urban knowledge centre.
  • The New Delhi Municipal Corporation has started implementation of mini-sewerage plants, wi-fi activated ‘smart’ street lights and city surveillance systems through a command and control centre.
  • But, most cities are still struggling at a primary planning stage, and financial closure to projects is still a long way off.
  • More importantly private investment – has hardly been identified and defined.


  • Smart cities function as special purpose vehicles diverged from regular urban governance structures.
  • It can create islands of development rather than an inclusive all round development of the city.
  • State and local governments lack fine-grained data or the capability to analyse them in order to understand the evolving needs of their communities.
  • Although India’s Smart Cities Mission has identified more than 20 priority areas, interventions by the respective agencies are weak.
  • There is an inadequate emphasis on the functioning of urban local bodies.
  • The Area Based Development approach – development of a sewage system somewhere or a web of roads in another city – will cover just about three per cent of the urban areas associated with these smart cities.
  • Urban local bodies lack both technical and human capacity and professionalism.

Way Forward

  • Smart cities cannot be a solution to urban crisis happening in India. It needs understanding of problem rationally through data collected systematically.
  • If Chicago city is taken as an example, Array of Sensors are installed on streets for people to download raw data on air quality, pedestrian movement and standing water.
  • Similarly India also shall develop transport, waste management data for improving urban governance based on evidence.
  • When one has limited funds, an easier and speedier route is to take five big cities or 10 small ones at a time, and transform them comprehensively.
  • Building of these cities cannot come only with government spending.
  • The funding has to happen through private sector’s involvement.
  • Since the smart cities programme aims at affordable housing and modern transportation, government has to facilitate smoother land acquisition with appropriate rehabilitation and resettlement
  • We see cutting of trees for widening of roads and highways. Care has to be taken to protect the environment while making cities smart.
  • Citizen participation is important right from policy inputs, implmentation and execution because citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries of smart cities.
  • Smart cities development requires smart leadership which has to come from all the three tiers of the government.


  • Clearly, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit on the road to smartness, and a nimble policy approach can tap this quickly.
  • The plan should recognise that the vibrant life of cities depends on variety and enabling environments, rather than a mere technology-led vision.
  • Pollution-free commons, walkability and easy mobility, with a base of reliable civic services, is the smart way to go.
  • With urbanization gaining prominence in the global policy discourse, it is important to focus on local governance.