Convergence In Smart City Proposal

“Comprehensive development occurs in areas by integrating the physical, institutional, social and economic infrastructure. Many of the sectoral schemes of the Government converge in this goal, although the path is different” – Smart City Guidelines

The smart cities mission is a game changer in India’s urban development sector many ways. In addition to being a bottom-up approach with demand driven projects that are based on citizen aspirations, the mission pushes the participating cities to innovate by bringing various missions and schemes of the government to a unified platform.

The smart city guidelines direct the cities to seek convergence at the planning stage itself, with other programmes like AMRUT, Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY), Digital India, Skill India, Housing for All and other schemes. The smart city mission guidelines highlight the strong complementary relationship between the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Smart Cities Mission in bringing about urban transformation. Though AMRUT follows a project-based approach and Smart Cities Mission follows an area-based strategy, convergence of the two missions enables AMRUT cities to implement the infrastructure projects (under AMRUT) with ease through the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) by including them in the Smart City Proposal (SCP). Similarly, the smart city mission presents an opportunity to converge other central and state government programs/schemes too.

The twenty lighthouse cities are very diverse with population lying between 0.2 to 5.5 million and the area ranging from 43 sq. km to 513 sq. km. They are port cities, market towns, tourist destinations, administrative cities and industrial cities. Their diversity also means that not all of the twenty cities are eligible for funding from all the same schemes. Some cities in addition to national and state schemes, have counted other forms of funding as converged funds. Funding from Asian Development Bank in Belagavi, World Bank and Development Authority funding in Jaipur and IT budget in Bhopal are three such modes of funding which are identified as convergence in their respective SCPs. Considering the idea of convergence as per smart city guidelines, this article excludes all modes other than national and state schemes from convergence. From different national and state schemes, the 20 lighthouse cities cities have converged amounts between 6 Crore to 1028 Crore. With a total of 7832 Crore INR## raised, 16% of total budget of SCPs is converged from schemes other than smart city mission in the twenty lighthouse cities.

Beyond Converging Funds

The SCPs of cities extends the definition of convergence beyond converging funds. The section on measurable impact expected from the ABP and PCP for each city reveals that projects within each of the impact theme ties into other impact themes– reinforcing the cross-cutting nature of the projects. The measurable impact section summarises the expected change in lives as a result of the implementation of various projects. By mapping out these projects to all the identified measurable impacts listed in their respective SCP, we can draw a clear picture that these projects are playing a key role to breakdown the notion of silos. Success of each project is dependent on multiple departments and players and it influences multiple aspects of quality of life in the city. There are five categories of measurable impacts for ABPGovernance, Spatial, Economic, Social and Environmental, and two for PCP- Governance and Public Services. Various projects identified by each city in ABP and PCP are points of convergence – for finance, for collaboration and for the city’s goals. The simplest example of this is the common card payment system for transportation and various services in the Bhubaneswar. Implementation of this project involves engagement of transportation, IT, Public service and other departments. As a result of its successful implementation users of the public transport will have better experience of using transit, the transit operators will avoid revenue losses, the city will be able to capture valuable data on use of transit and other services for planning for the future and the city will be able to make subsidies more accessible for those who need them. These are only some of the direct measurable impacts of one project. This ‘cause-effect’ scenario within the categories of measureable impacts in ABP in Bhubaneswar, is illustrated in the diagram below, enabling us to see the bigger picture.