Sustainable Smart Cities: The Smart Route Towards Future Urbanisation in India

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1488 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Jan 28, 2021

Words: 1488|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Jan 28, 2021

Table of contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
    Challenges in Smart Cities Urbanisation
    Environmental Issues
    Risk of digitalization
    Forced land acquisition and eviction
    Absence of Human rights-based standards and monitoring indicators
    Need for the adoption of Sustainable Smart Cities
  3. Conclusion
  4. References


Our planet is inhabited by our 7 billion people and is in the midst of massive transition due to climatic change, biological evolution. Climatic change brings its adverse consequences such as threat to biodiversity and risk to human health, rising sea level, increasing water stress as well as decline agricultural productivity. The government of India has undertaken concrete steps for making smart cities a reality with the recent announcement of converting 100 cities to smart cities. The government has initiated sustainability as the key component of smart cities. Due to abnormal weather conditions and natural calamities, the concept of smart cities must be integrated with sustainability for the welfare of people and planet as the whole Sustainable smart cities would be the smartest route for future urbanisation. Therefore this essay attempts to understand smart cities mission and the need for sustainable development for future India.

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India is on its development pathway toward urbanization. According to the census 2011 about 32 percent of the country’s population lives in urban areas as against 28 percent in 2001. By 2039 most estimates consider India to be 50 percent urbanised. To keep the pace with that India has to spend 1.2 trillion in its urban areas. While worldwide there is a call to battle global challenges like climate change, poverty, inequality and speedy development in development societies through transformative sustainability there is a smouldering pressure from Indian urbanities for enhanced economic growth, job creation urban renewal, and international living standards. To overcome this government of India recently announced the 100 new smart cities development.

The union budget earmarked 7070 crores during the 2013-14 financial year for developing smart cities in the country. Meanwhile the over all allocated has been hiked to 17628 crores in 2014-15 budget. These new cities should be developed to accommodate the burgeoning number of people. A major national daily reported that seven out of the 25 smart cities have been planned in the first phase of Delhi, Mumbai industrial corridor. There would be one in each in UP, Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and two in Gujarat.(Indian express 2014). But there are some unresolved issues and challenges in this upcoming venture that demand for a sustainable model for urbanisation. Sustainable smart cities would be the smartest route for future urbanisation. Therefore this research paper attempt to understand smart cities mission and the need for sustainable development for future India.

Challenges in Smart Cities Urbanisation

India ranks 131 (out of 188 countries) on the Human Development Index and records the world’s largest number of people, 642 million, living in multidimensional poverty (UNDP 2016). While the rate of urbanization is increasing, the country still has about 69 per cent of its population or over 800 million people living in rural areas. Urbanization processes,

There is neither an internationally accepted definition nor India has any policy on urbanization but there is no consensus on what are the inputs and strategies to achieve. It is also been studied that smart cities would bring multiple challenges for the India. As the Mission completes three years on 25 June 2018, Housing and Land Rights Network, India (HLRN) has published this report to assess its progress and contributions to urban development in India as well as its impacts on the most marginalized among the urban population.

The study undertaken by HLRN consists of an analysis of all 99 selected Smart City Proposals as well as an extensive review of media, government, and other reports about the Mission. Only about 8 per cent of India’s total population or 22 per cent of its urban population is likely to benefit from the Smart Cities Mission. The rationale of selecting only 100 of India’s over 4,000 cities and towns and of focusing only on select areas within each city misses an opportunity to evolve an inclusionary approach to development. It could also tend to perpetuate biases and discrimination in national planning processes. Of the total proposed investment of Rs 2.04 lakh crore (2,039 billion) in ‘smart cities,’ 80 per cent will be spent on ‘Area-based Development (ABD),’ i.e. only on specific areas in each city, with only 20 per cent of funds being devoted to ‘pan-city development. Some of the challenges observed are

Environmental Issues

Though there is a stated focus on environment sustainability within smart city proposal but this mission would result in the growing ecological footprints of smart cities. It could also pose threat of increased e-waste and loss of forest cover in the pursuit of green field development.

Risk of digitalization

The tendency of new and emerging technologies to capture personally identifiable information and household level data about citizen, give rise to serious concern about the smart city’s Propensity to violate people’s privacy through misuse of big data. Several other rights including the right to access information and the right to security are threatened by increase surveillance and control of personal data.

Forced land acquisition and eviction

In 2017 Housing and land right network (HLRN) documented forced eviction and demolition of homes in 32 out of 99 smart cities. The goal of the several cities to be slum free could promote eviction and destruction of low-income settlements under the guise of creating cities without slums. This is giving rise to fears of increased land acquisition, particularly along economic and industrial corridors.

Absence of Human rights-based standards and monitoring indicators

The lack of a city development model and adequate standards to guide project implementation, including for housing, water, sanitation, health and environmental sustainability, raise questions about whether the mission will really be able to deliver and ensure fulfillment of rights and entitlements of all city residents. The smart mission guidelines do not include any right-based indicator to monitor and to ensure that the project will also benefit the disadvantaged groups.

Need for the adoption of Sustainable Smart Cities

Currently urban infrastructure is mostly developed without giving much consideration to sustainability. According to the World Bank’s Sustainable cities framework, Sustainable cities can be understood as resilient cities that can more readily adapt to mitigate and promote economic, social and environmental changes. Sustainable development encompasses all aspects of a city’s health development and should be done with triple bottom line in mind addressing economic-financial, social and environmental issues.

“A smart sustainable city is an innovative city that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social and environmental aspects”

According to the sustainability frameworks that exist around the world, sustainability also calls for inclusive stakeholder engagement, robust governance, accountability and continuous monitoring, and transparent reporting. Successfully embedding these tenets of sustainability into smart city plans will require clear articulation of the role of ICT in achieving the city’s vision, urban development benchmarks, responding to the needs of citizens and other stakeholders, and supporting the required governance structure

Therefore the sustainable smart city will be the holistic city with multiple theme to ensure easy service delivery and quality of life for citizens. With the recent announcement of 100 smart city aspirants by the government, India has taken concrete step towards the smart city transformation. The clean and sustainable environment will be significant feature for the upcoming smart cities. The three pillars of the sustainable economic advancement, political participation and social emancipation are the core foundation of the smart sustainable city. A model city must have an open and responsive government that involves citizens in decision making and robust governance structure with single nodal agency. Additionally, the city must have the open data that is accessible to all, a robust model, for city functioning, and supportive regulatory systems that foster the culture of innovation and inclusiveness


The path towards sustainable smart cities will invariably require coordinated action by various stakeholders. The city management structure needs to work in harmony in order to deliver the city’s vision. This requires integrated approach both during planning as well as at the execution level of sustainable strategies. Cities may establish a nodal agency that will work together with city officials and policy-makers, in order to ensure that municipal strategies and urban planning targets are completely aligned with the city’s overall smart and sustainable vision. Institutional factors for achieving sustainable smart cities are:

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  • Good Governance
  • Legislation and policies
  • Public and private cooperation
  • Financing
  • Education training and development.

Thus for sustainable future development responsibility and accountability of all stakeholders would play an integral role towards the development of smart cities


  1. Sharma, Poonam & Rajput, Swati. (2017). Sustainable Smart Cities in India: Challenges and Future Perspectives.
  2. Sethi Mahindra ( 2015) “ smart cities in India: challenges and possibilities to attain sustainable urbanisation, Nagarlok vol. Xl VII, no. 3, July-September, 2015, Reports.
  3. Chaudhry, Saxena, Kumar(2018) “India’s Smart Cities Mission: Smart for Whom? Cities for Whom?” , Housing and Land Rights Network, New Delhi.
  4. Neel Ratan ( 2015) “Making cities smart and sustainable.” PWC, Corporate communication, India.
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Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Sustainable Smart Cities: The Smart Route Towards Future Urbanisation in India. (2021, January 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from
“Sustainable Smart Cities: The Smart Route Towards Future Urbanisation in India.” GradesFixer, 25 Jan. 2021,
Sustainable Smart Cities: The Smart Route Towards Future Urbanisation in India. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jun. 2024].
Sustainable Smart Cities: The Smart Route Towards Future Urbanisation in India [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Jan 25 [cited 2024 Jun 20]. Available from:
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