The 100 Smart Cities will be chosen on the basis of a competition. Key requirements are innovation, public involvement, coordination and support between city and state authorities and strategic planning. There is talk that former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, will assist in the judging. Bloomberg is now the UN's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, and is a leading figure in pushing innovative and data-driven approaches to urban managment.
This week's announcement constitutes a welcome break from the traditional Master Plan approach that has been followed in India's cities as part of the legacy from British planning before 1947. It would be difficult to devise a less appropriate planning methodology for a rapidly urbanising country with massive inequalities than the rigid, detailed 20-year land use plans that have been ground out through a protracted process. For example, the Development Plan for Mumbai was recently rejected at ministerial level. The planners were told to produce a new one in just four months. Some previous plans for this booming metropolis took 15 years to produce!
India's population is expected to grow from its current 377 million to 843 million by 2050, with the rate of urban growth exceeding the rate of demographic growth in what is still a largely rural country. However, its cities already have severe problems, such as air pollution.