21 August, 2015

Forget Smart Cities, Lets have Twin Cities

While you wait for benefits of Smart City Mission to reach your city, please read this :

Municipal corporations in India are sick, at every possible level (planning, decision making, execution). They do not have capability or will to provide world class municipal services (including basic services as mandated in the Indian constitution) for thousands of new citizens joining the city. Still they keep increasing/expanding the municipal boundaries.

  • Lack of town planning and regulations is leading to thousands of illegal housing projects.
  • High cost of decent housing for low income groups, leading to illegal slums.
  • No focus on providing public transportation leading to explosion in trips using cars, no wonder this leads to traffic congestion.
  • Corruption eats away significant portions of the budgets and expenditures on things that do not solve any problems (like Flyovers at busy junctions/squares) 
  • They have no grand vision to leverage the culture, heritage and to building a different identity for the city (like Paris has).
  • People are being fooled by buzzwords like "Smart city" without having any plan and funds on ground. It is business as usual.
Once of the root causes behind current situation is monopoly of the single sick municipal corporation on geographical location. The sick municipal corporation has monopoly over all natural resources (land, water, hills, gardens etc.) and they can do anything with it. People and genuine businesses are forced into submission due to this monopoly.

We must work to break this monopoly. How?

Remember the times when you had to bribe or wait for months to get a telephone land line connection at home? Govt. agencies had monopoly over telecommunication and they forced you in submission. Mobile phones created the competition that freed people from the shackles of this monopoly.

So point is that there MUST be a competition to the monopoly of single sick municipal corporation over a geographical area. This is possible if we divide the geographical area in to two parts and have two municipal corporations compete with each other. 

People working in factories, IT parks, offices should have a choice when the spend their money on buying property. Two corporations will compete with each other to do efficient tax collection and proper spending money on infrastructure. Corporation which does bad job will be punished by less investment and falling property prices. Also people will be able to compare performance of two and demand results from their representatives.

Does this guarantee world class municipal services? Perhaps no, but it gives people choice to choose lesser evil.