India's "100 Smart Cities" plan raises questions of social division
In 2014, India's newly elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, allocated INR70.6 billion (upwards of £750 million) to a plan called "100 Smart Cities". Although a year later the funding dropped to INR1.4 billion, smart city-themed conference continued to take place in Delhi and Mumbai, and urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu expected imminent roll-out of cities with infrastructure comparable to any developed European city. However, the earliest of these cities - such as Palava City, built across 3,000 acres of Mumbai's northeastern exurbs - incorporated into its high-end design smart surveillance and identity cards to enture that only residents enter the township.
In the rest of the country, only 16% of cities have underground sewage drainge systems. Critics therefore expressed concern that the new smart cities will effectively implement apartheid, creating islands of well-serviced, effectively privatised smart cities that do nothing to alleviate the poverty in the villages surrounding them.
Writer: Shruti Ravindran
Publication date: 2015-05-07