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The Smart City program in India is a giant leap towards sustainable urban development. By focusing on infrastructure improvements and fostering citizen participation, the program can achieve its full potential.

Sustainability in today’s world is more than just a fleeting phenomenon; it signifies enduring practices that can thrive over time and be embedded in our practices. The notion of smart cities carries immense potential to invigorate, include, and enhance urban life. The initiation of India’s smart city program is commendable as it marks the outset of a journey toward positive transformation and alleviate urban living standards.

The Smart City initiative in India has seen varied success across different regions in India, despite the diverse challenges of implementing such a large-scale national program. The program has made significant strides in certain areas, with different aspects gaining prominence in various parts of the country, such as the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) in Ahmedabad, has significantly improved urban mobility. Pune’s emphasis on waste management through initiatives like the “Pune Waste-Wise Cities” program has led to more efficient waste collection and processing. In Bhubaneswar, the focus on citizen participation has been notable, with the “Bhubaneswar.me” platform encouraging residents to engage with and contribute to city planning processes. The city of Surat has made remarkable progress in flood management through the implementation of smart water management systems, reducing the impact of monsoon floods.

Now, for the program to evolve and lead to truly sustainable urban development, specific elements related to infrastructure need urgent review. Key infrastructure components such as water supply, power distribution, waste management, and public transportation are critical to the success of smart cities. Each city has unique needs and challenges, necessitating a case-by-case approach. By implementing corrective actions and making necessary reinforcements and modifications, the Smart City program can move into its next orbit of progressive development.

A crucial aspect that requires more focus is increasing citizen participation. The success of any large-scale initiative often hinges not just on a top-down approach but also on a grassroots, bottom-up strategy. It is essential that every citizen recognizes the significance of the Smart City program and contributes to its success. This participative approach can transform the program into a more broad-based and effective initiative.

To foster this participatory spirit, several strategies can be employed. Raising citizen awareness through initiatives like the “My City My Pride” campaign in Indore, which educates residents about their role in maintaining city cleanliness, is one example. Forming citizen groups can be seen in Bengaluru’s “Ward Committees,” where local residents actively participate in governance and decision-making processes. Encouraging active participation is exemplified by the “Participatory Budgeting” initiative in Pune, allowing citizens to directly influence budget allocation for local projects. Implementing rewards and recognition programs, such as the “Swachh Survekshan” awards, incentivizes cities and their residents to improve sanitation and cleanliness. Such initiatives can ensure that the Smart City program is not just a governmental effort but a collective movement involving all stakeholders.

The concept of “sustainable development” emerged in 1980 and gained wider recognition following its inclusion in the Brundtland Report of 1987, published by the World Commission on Environment and Development. But, India’s deep-rooted connection to sustainability can be traced back to ancient texts like the Prithvi Sukta (Hymns to the Earth) from the Atharv Veda, dating back to 1500 B.C. This text is considered one of the world’s oldest ecological invocations. In light of this historical context, India has an even more profound responsibility to integrate these ancient principles of environmental stewardship into its contemporary development strategies.

Sustainability involves meeting current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. It’s difficult to achieve due to its multifaceted nature, encompassing economic, environmental, and social factors. Balancing these dimensions requires navigating trade-offs and tensions, implementing significant changes at individual and societal levels, and addressing challenges like population growth and urbanization. Despite its complexity, sustainability is a crucial goal requiring coordinated efforts across different sectors and disciplines.

The Smart City program in India is a giant leap towards sustainable urban development. By focusing on infrastructure improvements and fostering citizen participation, the program can achieve its full potential. With a touch of age-old wisdom and modern technology, India can create smart cities that are not only sustainable but also vibrant and inclusive for all.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Dikshu Kukreja

Quelle/Source: Financial Express, 04.06.2024

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