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Smart Cities or Smart, Efficient and Sustainable Urban Scapes - Comparative Analysis

  • Smart Cities or Smart, Efficient and Sustainable Urban Scapes - Comparative Analysis
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Intrigue for many and obvious for some, the quality of infrastructure when compared with the similar price point locations in India and developed countries present an interesting story. There are multiple characters in this story, from Political hands, bureaucrats, municipal administrators to the real estate players. There are multiple voices to be heard and respected in India but largely at the price of Quality. There are far too many rules & guidelines to be adhered in India but none contributing to quality execution. 

The urbanscape suffers the brute of multiple agencies and stake holders all along. People holding the immediate responsibility are always facing the alignment issue with their next line of management. Corruption and abuse of quality seeps in during their endeavor to fix this very alignment. However this has a deep penetrative effect over the performance of the City and its citizens. Inflicted with deteriorating urban infrastructure the city can never uplift itself even to its threshold level of potential. 

Private capital has showed many examples contrasting with the perpetual systemic inefficiencies of the Government led agencies.. Most of the city scape that you would be willing to buy with a certain degree of assurance would come from the Private capital. In 95% of cases, It rewards quality, ensures efficiency. Public money on the other hand is taken for a long ride before it gets going. In the process it gets eroded of its substantial value. 

The role of governance if gets limited to ensuring  high standards of law & order and maintaining swift regulatory framework, we believe that Private capital can change the picture and achieve the rest. In fact, in order to ensure liability & accountability, Public money undergoes numerous checks & balances, ironically losing a certain percentage of its value with each of these points of scrutiny. Quality becomes a byproduct instead of objective. Building our future cities and maintaining our current ones need to put Quality as the single biggest objective. We may fight out with systemic inefficiency possibly by the following-

•Going digital- Digitisation has shown it could surmount the prevailing barriers and uplift the entire generation to the next level of connectivity. The improved connectivity has started paying rich dividends to the citizens. It also carries the latent power to establish a parallel network of economic activities. Cities will definitely get benefitted in numerous ways with the growing digitization.

•Free up the Market- Markets forces are maneuvered if the Government builds up its stake into it. China is a close example. Government must act as an enabler ensuring positive business sentiments. GST notwithstanding all its associated concerns of jacked up tax structure, will be a step in the right direction by unifying all of India as one market. Freeing the market will have a huge role to play in alleviating systemic inefficiencies.

•Limit the role of Federation as Enabler- The political players in collusion with the bureaucracy have consumed a huge amount of economic space that we need to free up. They can do without caring for quality for a long time, the citizens can not. The Quality of urban infrastructure casts a direct effect on citizens. Let’s empower local urban bodies and let the quality of deliverables be the most common denominator for assuming more power.

•Incentivize Quality- The lowest bidder has also got his technical profile inflated unscrupulously, what to do. The specifications are followed only on the paper, not on site. The Quality inspectors have been fixed, what to do. Quality delivery has never been incentivized in our country. The fierce competition on price has taken a toll on Quality of life. This requires legislation or contractual binding to get enacted. People have started getting exposed to quality in glimpses. It should be just a matter of time when they would start demanding quality in public life. We are keeping our hopes alive not to see the 100 smart cities going the same way following the precedent.

Glimpses of Urbanscape and price point comparison

1. Footpath taken over by cars, no green bed, no cycle tracks, missing lane segregation.
2. Bicycle lanes nicely planned between vehicular and pedestrian ways.

1. Notice really wide setbacks from the Property lines here, all getting consumed for parking.
2. Streets are freed up from parked cars. Lane segregation help reclaim road space .

1. Road shoulder collecting rain water, too high footpath, lack of stormwater drainage. Notice sufficient setback of buildings from property line. Service lanes serving as private parking space for adjoining buildings.

2. Wide appropriately detailed and shaded footpaths encourage more & more people shun their cars.

1. Buy Price- Rs 12000-25000 per Sqft Rental Yield- Rs 50-90 per sqft Location- Sector 44, Inst. Area, Gurgaon
2. Buy Price- Rs 12000-25000 per Sqft Rental Yield- Rs 50-90 per sqft Location- Jersey City, NJ

Keep an eye on this space for more.

Ballot Box India Team

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