Smart Cities Award Contest


I n an increasingly growing scenario of performance and competition, mere rhetoric or planning on papers and files but taking little or no action do not bag awards and rewards and it is only how much one keeps pace with the situation and pursues an ambition of innovative ideas and creative projects that things matter in the changed situations. In other words, India Smart Cities Award Contest which is an annual event hosted by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs wherein 100 Smart Cities participate , both Srinagar and Jammu have proved a damp squib and failed to bag any reckoning in the All India competition which has been held every year since 2018. Does it mean that in areas that matter a lot like Social Aspects, Governance , Culture, Urban Environment, Sanitation, Economy , Built Environment, Water, Mobility and Sustainable Business Model of Integrated Command and Control Centres all within the Projects Category , we might have done a lot but not enough to compete with other cities in the ”fray” at least in the listed three broad categories. It is nothing short of an embarrassing situation in lagging behind in the mission of transforming cities into Smart Cities. Similarly, in other vital areas under Innovation Category , two sub-categories namely COVID innovation and innovation in projects and within the Cities Category , again awards went to the best performing cities wherein Jammu and Srinagar both stood nowhere. That the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has not been satisfied with the performance in these categories speaks about the need to do more , the culture of which appears to be still far from satisfactory, if not absolutely in inertial mode in the UT administrative apparatus. Those cities which along with the twin capital cities of the UT were selected under Smart City Mission in 4th round of selection or even in the 5th round have performed well in sub categories of Project Award like Erode in Tamil Nadu, as well as Dehradun and Saharanpur both in Uttar Pradesh. Best City Award and Smart Cities Leadership Award too could not be decided in favour of either of the two capital cities of Jammu and Kashmir. The main mechanism behind city operation, exceptional handling and disaster management is what carries the importance of there being in place Integrated Command and Control Centres. Capturing and generating data through the mechanism’s sensors and other equipment in respect of various utilities like water, waste management , energy , mobility , education, healthcare , safety etc are important prerequisites of aspiring for a smart city transformation. This system deals effectively with multiple systems and application in different technologies using different platforms as it integrates them to a common platform thus saving drain of resources and cutting down on costs. However, in this area too, out of the two cities, Srinagar only has developed and made operational Integrated Command and Control Centre while in Jammu , it is so far not established for reasons not known. With the same inputs and probably the resources too, a competitive environment means who performs best among the better ones which in other words means there being opportunities in a transparent manner, action and performance alone mattered. India Smart Cities Award Contest is an exercise in that direction to judge the levels of working of individual cities aspiring for Smart City status. If we analyse the overall rating and the results, Jammu has got “1 Star ‘ while Srinagar has bagged ”2 Star ” rating. Should we be quite satisfied about this mean achievement , independent observers term it as not being much on any positive side. The reasons of this difference , even of micro nature, between the two cities in the same UT should have not been there . However, in any case it is only failures that lead to success – should the same be taken seriously to mean in the instant case to do much on those parameters fixed by the Union Ministry under Smart City Mission where the two cities have not performed satisfactorily. Let in the next event due of India Smart Cities Award Contest , both Jammu and Srinagar cities bag awards by getting better ratings .What is needed is a regular periodic assessment of action taken on those parameters where both the cities have yet to get seriously engaged let alone achieve exceptional results.