Slew of reforms needed for India’s smart cities project: WEF, PwC report

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) India needs priority reforms in land acquisition, dispute resolution, permitting processes and addressing risks in PPP to overcome business environment challenges for successful execution of the smart cities project, said a joint report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released on Friday.

“Reforms to accelerate the development of India’s Smart Cities” said the Indian government has sent out a positive message to the private sector by announcing 100 Smart Cities and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) programmes but called for structured approach towards urban management.

“These programmes have opened up avenues for local industry and global players to participate in the development of cities across such sectors as utilities, housing, mobility, telecommunications, information technology, healthcare, education and recreational facilities,” it said.

However, city governments in India are the least prepared to execute these mega programmes among all the stakeholders which include the national and state governments, private sector, NGOs and academic institutions, it added and called for efficient addressing of institutional challenges, sector specific challenges and private sector actions among others.

“Private-sector support will enable the rejuvenation of crippling and inadequate infrastructure and help address capacity issues across state governments and urban local bodies (ULBs),” it said.

About urban population, the report said India is a significant contributor to the rise of global urban population which currently stands at 54 percent of the total world population and set to rise to 66 percent by 2050.

“While the country’s urban population currently totals around 410 million people (32 percent of the total population), it is expected to reach 814 million (50 percent) by 2050,” it said but highlighted this population growth has not been accompanied by commensurate increase in urban infrastructure and service delivery capabilities.

Supply gaps and challenges in India’s urban regions include water, waste management, energy, mobility, the built environment, education, healthcare and safety which are at the risk of exacerbating further if timely action is not taken.

“Dedicated effort will be required by all stakeholders to create an environment where a balance is achieved between the private sector’s goal to achieve maximum returns and the public sector’s goal to achieve social welfare at minimum cost,” it added.

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