There is no universally accepted definition of a Smart City, the conceptualization varies from city-to-city and country-to-country, depending on the level of development, willingness to change and reform, resources and aspirations of the residents.

Some definitional boundaries are required to guide cities in the Mission. In the imagination of any city dweller in India, the picture of a smart city contains a wish list of infrastructure and services that describes his or her level of aspiration. To provide for the aspirations and needs of the citizens, urban planners ideally aim at developing the entire urban eco-system, which is represented by the four pillars of comprehensive development-institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure.

National Smart City Mission is an urban renewal and retrofitting program by the Government of India with the mission to develop smart cities across the country, making them citizen friendly and sustainable. The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities. The mission initially included 100 cities, with the deadline for completion of the projects set between 2019 and 2023.


Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government of India launched its flagship program, 'Smart Cities' on 25th June 2015. As part of the program, the government has decided to develop 100 Smart Cities by 2024. It aims to address challenges associated with India's rapid growth and massive urbanization in coming years.

Smart Cities Mission envisions developing an area within 100 cities in the country as model areas based on an area development plan, which is expected to have a rub-off effect on other parts of the city, and nearby cities and towns.

Cities will be selected based on the Smart Cities challenge, where cities will competed in a countrywide competition to obtain the benefits from this mission. In June 2018, selection of 100 smart cities has been completed under the Smart Cities Mission.

The Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) is tasked with the responsibility to implement the smart city mission in collaboration with the respective cities. To select the smart cities, the MoUD announced the Smart City Challenge programme, a multi stage competition designed to inspire and support municipal officials for developing smart city proposals to improve residents' lives. All states used a standardized criteria to pick their cities for the competition. Each city formulated its own unique vision, mission and plan for a “smart city.” Their concepts reflected the city’s local context, resources, and priorities of citizens.

According to the Ministry of Urban Development, the Smart City Mission marks a paradigm shift towards urban development in the country since it is based on ‘bottom up’ approach with the involvement of citizens in formulation of city vision and smart city plans and the urban local bodies and state governments piloting the mission with little say from the Ministry of Urban Development.

It is a five-year program, where all of the Indian states and Union territories are participating, except West Bengal, by nominating at least one city for the Smart Cities challenge. Financial aid will be given by the central and state governments between 2017-2022 to the cities, and the mission will start showing results from 2022 on-wards.


With increasing urban population and rapid expansion of areas, operators are looking at smarter ways to manage complexities, increase efficiencies and improve quality of life.



The objective of smart city initiative is to promote sustainable and inclusive cities that provide core infrastructure and give decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and susutainable environment and application of Smart Solutions.

Some of the core infrastructure elements in a Smart City would include:


  •        24x7 availability of high quality utility services like water and power.
  •        A robust transport system that emphasizes on public transport
  •        Provide opportunities for jobs and livelihoods for its inhabitants.
  •        Proper facilities for entertainment and the safety and security of the people. State-of-the-art health and education facilities are also a must.
  •        Minimize waste by increasing energy efficiency and reducing water conservation and proper recycling of waste materials.




·       Adequate water supply

·       Assured electricity supply

·       Sanitation including solid waste management

·       Efficient urban mobility and              public transport

·       Affordable housing, especially for the poor

·       Robust IT connectivity and digitalization

·       Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation

·       Sustainable environment

·       Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly

·       Health and education



  •       Promoting mixed land use in area-based developments — planning for ‘unplanned areas’ containing a range of compatible activities and land uses close to one another in order to make land use more efficient. The States will enable some flexibility in land use and building bye-laws to adapt to change
  •        Housing and inclusiveness — expand housing opportunities for all
  •       Creating walkable localities — reduce congestion, air pollution and resource depletion, boost local economy, promote interactions and ensure security. The road network is created or refurbished not only for vehicles and public transport, but also for pedestrians and cyclists, and necessary administrative services are offered within walking or cycling distance
  •        Preserving and developing open spaces — parks, playgrounds, and recreational spaces in order to enhance the quality of life of citizens, reduce the urban heat effects in Areas and generally promote eco-balance
  •        Promoting a variety of transport options — Transit Oriented Development (TOD), public transport and last mile para-transport connectivity;
  •        Making governance citizen-friendly and cost effective — increasingly rely on online services to bring about accountability and transparency, especially using mobiles to reduce cost of services and providing services without having to go to municipal offices; form e-groups to listen to people and obtain feedback and use online monitoring of programs and activities with the aid of cyber tour of worksites;
  •        Giving an identity to the city — based on its main economic activity, such as local cuisine, health, education, arts and craft, culture, sports goods, furniture, hosiery, textile, dairy, etc;
  •        Applying Smart Solutions to infrastructure and services in area-based development in order to make them better. For example, making Areas less vulnerable to disasters, using fewer resources, and providing cheaper services.







The total numbers of 100 smart cities have been distributed among the States and UTs on the basis of equitable criteria. The formula gives equal weightage (50:50) to urban population of the State/UT and the number of statutory towns in the State/UT. Based on this formula, each State/UT will, therefore, have a certain number of potential smart cities, with each State/UT having at least one. This distribution is given below. The number of potential Smart Cities from each State/UT will be capped at the indicated number. The distribution of smart cities will be reviewed after two years of the implementation of the Mission. Based on an assessment of the performance of States/ULBs in the Challenge, some re-allocation of the remaining potential smart cities among States may be required to be done by ministry (MoUD).


Retrofitting will introduce planning in an existing built-up area to achieve Smart City objectives, along with other objectives, to make the existing area more efficient and liveable. In retrofitting, an area consisting of more than 500 acres will be identified by the city in consultation with citizens. Depending on the existing level of infrastructure services in the identified area and the vision of the residents, the cities will prepare a strategy to become smart. Since existing structures are largely to remain intact in this model, it is expected that more intensive infrastructure service levels and a large number of smart applications will be packed into the retrofitted Smart City. This strategy may also be completed in a shorter time frame, leading to its replication in another part of the city.


Redevelopment will effect a replacement of the existing built-up environment and enable co-creation of a new layout with enhanced infrastructure using mixed land use and increased density. Redevelopment envisages an area of more than 50 acres, identified by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in consultation with citizens. For instance, a new layout plan of the identified area will be prepared with mixed land-use, higher FSI and high ground coverage. Two examples of the redevelopment model are the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Project in Mumbai (also called the Bhendi Bazaar Project) and the redevelopment of East Kidwai Nagar in New Delhi being undertaken by the National Building Construction Corporation.


Greenfield development will introduce most of the Smart Solutions in a previously vacant area (more than 250 acres) using innovative planning, plan financing and plan implementation tools (e.g. land pooling/ land reconstitution) with provision for affordable housing, especially for the poor. Greenfield developments are required around cities in order to address the needs of the expanding population. One well known example is the GIFT City in Gujarat. Unlike retrofitting and redevelopment, greenfield developments could be located either within the limits of the ULB or within the limits of the local Urban Development Authority (UDA).


Pan-city development envisages application of selected Smart Solutions to the existing city-wide infrastructure. Application of Smart Solutions will involve the use of technology, information and data to make infrastructure and services better. For example, applying Smart Solutions in the transport sector (intelligent traffic management system) and reducing average commute time or cost to citizens will have positive effects on productivity and quality of life of citizens. Another example can be waste water recycling and smart metering which can make a substantial contribution to better water management in the city.

Selection Process Of Smart Cities


Stage 1 of the competition: Shortlisting of cities by States


The first stage of the competition is intra-state; cities in the state shall compete on the

conditions precedents and the scoring criteria laid out. The state/union territory shortlists the potential smart cities based on conditions precedents, scoring criteria and in accordance to the total number allocated to it. The cities with the highest scores will be shortlisted and recommended to participate in Stage 2 of the challenge. The state/union territory will recommend the names of cities that have successfully been selected in this round to the MoUD, who shall thereafter announce the list of selected 100 smart cities.


Stage 2 of the competition: The Challenge round for selection


In the second stage, each of the potential 100 smart cities shall prepare their proposals for participating in the city challenge. The Smart City Proposal (SCP) for each city should outline the preferred model for Area Based Development (ABD) as well as pan-city development with smart solutions, the proposed financing and revenue model to attract private participation, etc. These proposals shall be evaluated by a committee comprising national and international experts, organisations and institutions. After the evaluation, a list of winning cities is announced. The remaining cities rework and improve their SCPs in order to be considered in the next round of challenge.




·    Technical Constraints & Technological Obsoleteness: The smart city mission aims to harness the smart technologies to develop the city into a smart one. However, most of the urban local bodies have a limited technical capacity to ensure the development of the smart cities. These technical and technological limitations hinder the cost-effective and timely implementation of the smart steps. Moreover, the investment in technology is being done for a time-frame of 5-10 years. But, seeing the fast evolution of technology from 2G to 3G to 4G in the past 4-5 years, it seems that this time frame would not suffice. Moreover, the latest technology, i.e., internet of things is still a new concept for many. If the smart cities do not keep options for adaption and upgradation in technology, they might lag behind using obsolete technologies in the technologically-evolving world.

·   Retrofitting Existing Infrastructure: Real estate of india is set to see a major development due to the smart city mission as the development of infrastructure has attracted the highest investment. Due to infrastructural development, people are eager to buy a property in India and invest in the country’s smart cities. However, the challenge lies in identifying the weak areas of the city that would experience retrofitting and be transformed into a smart area. The challenge lies in analyzing the entire city area and finding out the areas where retrofitting can be performed and how. Moreover, retrofitting the areas with historical importance or that have any heritage value would also be a challenge in transforming cities into smart one.

·     Financing For Project: Keeping the funds and finances flowing in for the smart cities mission can also be a challenge for the Indian government. Although the Center has released around INR 9,940 crores for the smart cities mission in the Union Budget 2018, the total investment for the project has gone up to 1,91,155 crores. Getting the right finances flowing in for the completion of the project and later the maintenance of the technological developments in the smart cities can be a challenge.

·    Urbanizing Public Transport: A smart, reliable, sustainable, and affordable transport system is at the core of turning a city into a smart one. There is a need for urban mobility connecting people and cities seamlessly. However, urbanizing the public transport for urban mobility can be a challenge for the Indian government due to the inadequate transport system currently persisting in the cities. Various factors like lack of investment, high population density, zoning, and poor urban planning have been making the transit system in Indian cities inadequate. Optimal utilization of mass transit and the urbanization of public transport should be the key focus of smart city initiative to overcome this challenge.

·     Coordinating Three-Tier Governance: Effective horizontal as well as vertical coordination between the different institutions is imperative for the implementation of the smart city solutions. The center, state, and the local bodies need to be in perfect coordination to ensure that the proper development of smart cities. However, there is a lack of coordination among the three-tier governance which might be a big roadblock in the successful completion of this project.


·       Make the people aware about the technologies and the use of internet and its importance in their life.

·       Involving more people in the IT Sector because IT plays an essential role in development of the smart cities.

·       Investing more on technologies.

·       Retrofitting of the infrastructure in proper way so that the old old historic building should not lose their values and architectural design.

·       Promotion of EVs.

·       Create proper paths for the pedestrian and the cyclists.

·       Plan more innovative traffic ideas to decrease the rush of people in the traffic.

·       Coordination of the public and the government can make this mission more successful.





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