Smart City Mission was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) GoI in which 100 cities were to be selected for Urban renewal and retrofitting to promote cities that provide core infrastructure, give a decent quality of life to their citizens and apply smart solutions to improve services and infrastructure. The main objective is to make life of the citizens comfortable. Some of the town planners argue that a city smart on paper must be smart on the ground also. In Srinagar, there is much room for improvement. The concept of a smart city began at a time when the whole world was facing a serious economic crisis. In 2008 International Business Machine (IBM) commenced work on smarter cities concept. The concept is not limited to information, communication technology and sustainable infrastructure but forms a vital part of building a smart city. It is a technologically modernised urban area. It uses different types of technological platforms such as voice activation methods, automated sensors to collect data, data centres and electronic methods. It is a city that uses technology to solve problemsy and provide services effectively, efficiently and economically. It deals in improving accessibility, transportation, sustainability and social services besides enabling citizens to voice their thoughts. Its main objective is to ensure easy day-to-day life to its citizens. This smartness depends on various factors, including employment, politics, education and healthcare. The core infrastructure elements in a smart city may include adequate electricity & water supply, solid waste management, sanitation, economic and efficient public transport, urban mobility, digitalisation, affordable housing, strong and comprehensive information technology and overall good governance.
Amsterdam, the capital of Netherlands, is said to be the first smart city created in 1994. GIFT City (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City) is mentioned to be the first smart city established in 2013 in India. A smart city is expected to have four infrastructural rudders which are as follows.
1) Physical infrastructure: It relates to the basic physical infrastructures required for an economy to function and sustain, such as power grid, sewage and waste disposal, transport network etc. 2) Institutional infrastructure: It is the basic organisational and physical structures with requisite paraphernalia thereto for running an institution. It includes government systems, financial institutions, education and health institutions and law enforcement. 3) Economic infrastructure: This refers to the basic facilities which directly benefit the process of production, manufacture and distribution in an economy, and 4) Social Infrastructure: It refers to a good social infrastructure necessary for human development through better skills, craftsmanship and education. The main constituents of social infrastructure are health and education. Comprehensive development in smart cities may have some typical features like, a) expanding housing facilities for all, b) promoting mixed land use in area-based development, c) planning for unplanned areas, d) developing & preserving open spaces, e) playgrounds, f) parks, g)reduce urban warming effects, h) promoting eco-balance, i) reduce air pollution /congestion/resource depletion, j) boost the local economy, k) ensure security, l) promote interactions, m) refurbish road network for vehicles, public transport, cyclists, pedestrians and providing services within walking distances to better the quality of life of citizens. In India, the Smart City Mission was launched in June 2015 by the Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs which saw four rounds of selection from 1/2016 to 6/2018 in the country 100 cities for urban renewal and retrofitting to promote decent quality of life among their citizens and apply smart solutions to improve services and infrastructure. These cities were to be established during 2021-22 and 2022-23 as a minimum of five years was given to each for completion.
The Srinagar Smart City Project was approved in the third round of competition held on 4/2017. For this purpose, a company limited by shares was established as Srinagar Smart City Limited and incorporated as a special purpose vehicle on 8-9-2017 under the Companies Act 2013. It is governed by a Board of Directors with its Chairman, Administrative Secretary Housing & Urban Development Department Jammu & Kashmir. In the case of the State-level High Powered Steering Committee for Smart City Srinagar, it is headed by the Chief Secretary of Jammu & Kashmir. It envisions transforming Srinagar into an eco-friendly, socio-economically vibrant city that utilises its natural & cultural heritage resources creating harmony among and opportunities for its people with cost-effective and citizen-friendly governance. It aims to harness all ways and means through innovative and inclusive solutions to improve the quality of citizens’ life. The project consists of two components, viz, Area Based Development, and Pan City Solutions. By its time frame, the project was scheduled to be completed on 4/2022. The area-based development component for city improvement, city renewal and city extension was estimated to cost Rs.2,869.24 crore and the Pan City Solutions covering larger parts of the city Rs.765.03 crore for Srinagar city. Under the area-based component, 76 per cent was to be developed on modern lines, 19 per cent as green field and five per cent area kept for specified purposes. Viewing from the perspective of its typical features, infrastructures and aims & objectives the Smart City Mission appear to focus on a technology-driven, knowledge-based, skill-assisted and harmonious economy where every workable person is engaged in some good productive activity required by a general livable society. With little and short showers various areas of the city get inundated, debunking the claims of systemic strength and personnel vigilance. The sewage treatment plants, drainage systems and safe drinking water have unchallengeable importance. A dirty city cannot be smart. The drainage system in the summer capital Srinagar is to be planned concerning the lowest gradient in the city so that drainage in comparatively low-lying areas may not flow back to worry the people and drag the public money down the drain. More STPs may be established and those already existing ensured optimal utilisation so that flora and fauna is not affected. The supply of safe drinking water has to be ensured to ward off water-borne diseases. Land transport which fails in area coverage, frequency and time needs correction. The morning and the afternoon hours are mostly dry due to scanty mobility. Most importantly, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation needs to be under heavy check to end, or at least drastically limit, corruption and other malpractices.