- Published: 28 December 2020
The global rapid urbanization is evident by the rise in the number of megacities. Most of these are located in Asia and Africa. Currently, 22 out of 33 cities with a population of over 10 million are in Africa and Asia.
According to the World Bank, in the last five years, the total urban population of the world went to 56 % in 2019 from 47 % in 2013. By 2040, more than 10 to 11 billion additional urban dwellers are projected to be added to the world population living in urban areas. Africa and Asia together are expected to account for 86 percent of all growth in the world’s urban population over the next three decades (UN DESA 2014). Urban growth has become inevitable, even fundamental, in the process of sustaining and nurturing economic opportunities across the world. The developed countries have higher urbanization levels (77.7% in 2011) compared with developing countries (46.5% in 2000). The urbanization level has almost stabilized in developed countries, while Africa and Asian countries are urbanizing at a phenomenally high rate, with 39.6% and 45% population living in urban areas (UN DESA 2012).
The global rapid urbanization is evident by the rise in the number of megacities. Most of these are located in Asia and Africa. Currently, 22 out of 33 cities with a population of over 10 million are in Africa and Asia. In 2000, Asia had more than half of the world’s largest cities, including ten ‘mega-cities’ (with populations in excess of 10 million). By 2030, Asia is expected to have 10 additional mega-cities. The number of Asian cities with more than 5 million people is also projected to grow, 48 cities (from 21 cities in 2000)
India, the second most populated country after China, has long been experiencing population and demographic changes after its independence in 1947, and an important process associated with it is urbanization and urban population growth. The urban population has risen from about 30 million in 1901 to 377 million by 2011 in India according to census 2011 and it will continue increasing till 594 million in 2036. The number of towns in cities has increased to 7935 in 2011 from 5161 in 2001. This increase in the number of cities has been at all levels. Big cities and become bigger and new cities have got identified as urban areas. The count of cities with more than 1 million population has gone up from 35 in 2001 to 53 in 2011 (Census 2011). This essentially means an increase in the opportunities but also increased pressure on infrastructure demand.
To address the demand of urban areas and create technologically advanced cities, the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) has been envisioned to facilitate development in the 100 smart cities with a total project cost of Rs 2.05 lakh crores estimated to impact 99.5 million people living in these cities. As per the Smart Cities Mission, progress report 3,800 projects worth Rs 1,418 billion were tendered as of 18 September 2019; 3,100 projects worth Rs 1000 billion grounded and 1,100 projects worth over Rs 201 billion completed.
‘A Study to Qualitatively Assess the Capacity Building Needs of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs)’ conducted by NIUA and supported by Niti Aayog (2015), clearly outlines ‘acute shortage of staff at all levels’ as one of the major issues faced by most ULBs. In addition to existing vacancies and frequent transfer of officers, the study also highlighted the lack of technical capacities in the cities to carry out the required tasks efficiently. The smart cities mission progress report of 2019 also acknowledges the lack of technical and administrative capacities of ULBs in Indian Cities.
The institutionalizing of the SCM with an SPV, headed by a CEO and a board was designed to bestow adequate power to plan, execute, and finance projects. However, the multidisciplinary team and capacities required in the smart cities are still lacking in most smart cities. Many of the challenges faced by our urban areas today have never been solved before. The cities of today are growing in their complexities. The solutions cannot be sought by individual disciplines like architects, planners, engineers, or urban managers. The smart cities of India need professionals who can simultaneously understand and address building the city image, collective rationality, and a sustainable funding mechanism for any project in an integrated and comprehensive manner while providing for urban solutions that are resilient and inclusive. Unfortunately, the projects traverse through its various stages in a more linear progression. Traditionally, such a mechanism of development has often led to projects which never get completed on the ground, or do not achieve the desired objectives or have delays. Cities are dynamic entities. A delay or partial implementation of a project could do more bad than good to Indian cities.
Technical professions and the need for specific professionals has evolved with the evolution of humankind. Historically, professions have emerged to address technological advancement, increasing complexities, and the growing needs of society. Sadly, our educational institutions continue to prepare specialized urban professionals. Highly trained as specific sector experts, these professionals struggle to find integrated solutions. There is a paradigm shift in the capacities of the urban practitioners required in the development sector and especially for the smart cities. We do not have the time, funds and resources to build our cities again. We have to get it right the first time itself. And that can happen only with the right set of abilities and capacities
Autor(en)/Author(s): Prof. Ashima Banker
Quelle/Source: BW Smart Cities, 21.12.2020