After discussing the concept of Smart Cities from different perspectives we will move on to exploring the scope of smart cities in India and the proposed governmental plan for it, in this final chapter.
Smart Cities in India
Since the time our honorable Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi has raised pitch for the development of 100 smart cities in India, it has become talk of the town. In today’s topic we will go through what has already been done, and what is to be expected in the near future.
What will need to be seen is if it would be a complete makeover of the existing infrastructure and processes or if this would primarily comprise of retrofitting work to upgrade it a notch up on a few parameters.
It must be a collaboration of local and central government, businesses, non-profit organizations working in the field of environment, social upliftment and awareness etc, academia and the citizens willing to offer their insights into their idea of sustainability.
Either way, it would present with a great opportunity to step into the future. Employment opportunities would arise too and many will get opportunity to flex their creative sense.
Smart Cities in India
In 2015, 98 cities competed in the first round, and till date 27 cities have been selected under smart city mission which will get Rs 200 Cr for improving their infrastructure.
Strategies to be adopted:
The strategic components identified for area-based development in the Smart Cities Mission are:
Of the 98 cities and towns that will upgrade into smart cities, 24 are capital cities, another 24 are business and industrial centres, 18 are culture and tourism influenced areas, five are port cities and three are education and health care hubs.
Below are the links to the earlier parts of this series:
In this section, we will drill deeper into the concept to understand what must be the core Infrastructure to build up a Smart city.
Frost & Sullivan have identified eight key aspects that define a Smart City:
smart governance, smart energy, smart building, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, smart technology, smart healthcare and smart citizen
We have leveraged out of it while coming up with our own list.
This cannot be a one-time process. First and foremost there is a need to identify metrics to define it. Suggestions need to be sought from residents and experts alike. Consolidated list, then, should be filtered out to weed out parameters which could not be measured. Whole process should be put online for everyone’s review and then the process set must be evaluated for the actions taken. This could be used as a model to make new learnings and improvise the existing system in an incremental fashion.
We are not talking about just pre-schools, schools, colleges, university(ies), training centers etc, but, about defining ways to keep all citizens educated and informed on all policies and matters, which are directly or indirectly related to them. A number of health issues can be contained beforehand if residents are updated about them through some governmental or Non-profit organization(s).
Also, there is need to upgrade the existing educational system. We will also recommend a 360 degree review system, where not just the students will get rated for the performance but teachers / professors too will need to pass through the evaluation process. This will help them know their shortcomings and at the same time put pressure on them to perform better alike students.
It should not just be about Health care but Preventive Health care. Simple living, eating healthy, regular exercises, on-time vaccinations and other preventive services could reduce burden on overall Health care services. This would allow people to live a healthy, long and stress free life.
Technology is continuously improving and could be used to record, monitor and analyze the health details of individuals; maintain medical history; and guide them periodically to avoid expected health concerns based on their and their family history.
So, in the smart cities, IOT is not just going to digitize homes and elevate experience of online shopping, but also will make health care services smarter by taking away focus from cure to prevention.
Adequate water supply
Firstly, there will be a critical need for accurate forecasting of water consumption and use by the habitants. To us, a smart city should be self sustainable in terms of its water requirement. That would mean that it should be able to re-generate water, atleast most of it, from what it consumed. This will need to be coupled with water loss management to induce smart water concept for smart cities which has become increasingly important because of rising population and water scarcity.
24 x 7 Electricity Supply:
This will need to be looked upon from two sides.
One would be to increase the electricity generation capacity keeping in mind the expected population of the city when at peak and the average requirement of an average household which must be at par with the usage in developed countries using renewable energy solutions, such as, solar, wind etc.
At the same time, enough attention needs to be devoted in researching better technologies to reduce energy consumption by the commonly used devices. A good example to this is the transformation from the filament bulbs to CFL to LED.
Sanitation and cleanliness:
Everything in a smart city will need to be developed with sustainability at its core. Physical infrastructure would need to be developed for things like Solid waste management and proper disposal of garbage. What could be recycled should be recycled and rest should be treated in the most environmental-friendly manner possible.
Besides, enlightening citizens on the subject would be a major challenge. We would need to work with the people to make them aware about the importance of sanitation and cleanliness. Also, initial level of waste segregation will have to be done at the source itself and people will need to be guided on that too.
Transportation to humans is what internet is to computers. This will further break down to two major sub segments, i.e., Public and Private Transportation.
Isn’t this the right time to start thinking of reducing our dependence on transportation powered by fossil fuel? Yes!! It is time to start switching to e(lectronic)-Transportation. They are expensive as of now but with more manufacturers jumping in and a mass transition catalyzed by governmental mandate could make that affordable to the common people.
This should be complimented by an efficient and robust public transport system comprising of Metro Trains, electric trams, AC buses etc, coupled with pedestrian walkways and cycling lanes. A well knit transport network could ensure jam free traffic on roads and will have minimal participation in causing pollution.
Real estate, let it be residential or commercial development, is both the cause and result of smart cities in some way. A smart city should have well planned, good quality and affordable housing solutions for all, at its core. Simultaneously, since there will always be a workforce in the lower and lower-middle group segment, provisions should be made for residential units and low budget markets for these people belonging to economically weaker section.
Healthy and Sustainable environment:
This could be achieved with effective use of renewable resources and minimizing dependence on fossil fuels. Green norms should be made a mandatory part of all planning, let it be for housing, transportation or any other entity.
Optimal digitization and Robust IT connectivity:
Wherever feasible, processes / services much be knit together with information technology. Internet speed in India has started to catch up with the rest of the world and new systems can be planned keeping in mind that it is going to get better in the coming years. We are expecting 5G in another 4 to 5 years time which would leave us with unending possibilities and applications. Cyber-security will assume an important role.
Safety and security:
Though, this in itself is a vast topic and is of utmost importance, we will stick to just a few concerns that should amicably be made part of this final chapter:
There were some more points which crossed our mind, but we will keep them for some other time.
Below are the links to the earlier parts of the series.
After decoding the concept and to some extent definition of smart city, in this section, we will try to analyze what makes a city smart.
Though we have discussed a number of features which one could enroll to get on road for planning a Smart City, but what exactly makes a city smart?
Is it about upgrading the existing technology of a city to bring it at par with the best? .. or is it the well informed/educated and knowledge prone people whose responsible acts make a city smart?
What makes this question more relevant is the Center’s ambitious scheme to develop 100 smart cities in coming years.
We all have felt the level of stress because of various reasons. Let it be the traffic, unruly drivers, roads full of potholes, inequality in the society, vast difference in the socio-economic stature of different sections of the society, policies that help rich grow richer and makes poor poorer, corruption at all levels or growing health concerns because of increasing level of pollution.
Life in a smart city will be very different from present-day lifestyles. It will bring in harmony in the life of individuals by balancing their needs and that of the society by optimal use of technology mixed with good governance. Political will can handle atleast half of the city woes by itself.
What if most of the things could be done online from the comfort of your home. Let it be shopping, paying bills, and even for jobs that could be done from your PC or mobile / telephone. Though most of these are still possible but yet we have to travel for rest of the cases, adding traffic to the already overloaded roads. Better infrastructure and lesser need to travel would lead to lesser congestion and hence pollution. This could be easily achieved by better use of IT and by simplifying processes.
Why same set of information has to be provided every time you open up a new bank account, invest in mutual funds, or go for any other scheme. A govt controlled centralized system can be an answer to this which could be referred using some unique id, such as, aadhar card, PAN No, or even license no. to get the details. This will also eliminate need to update several instances every time there is a change in some information, say, your current address… So?? Less Stress!!
Those were just examples of how just by understanding the issues and by using technology effectively to one’s aid lives could be made better and hence achieve goal of smarter cities.
Regional challenges could be handled using regional competitiveness. Carefully studying all chapters in depth and integrating them with Information Technology would make them better accessible, in turn improving quality of life and will have direct social, human and economic impact. Increasing participation of citizens in the governance of cities will make them more responsible and accountable.
In our next section we will discuss about the Core infrastructure required to build up a smart City.
Below is the link to the first part of this series.
After our last post when we were planning to get onto our next, we stumbled upon this topic and with it being relevant to our cause and since the honorable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has already pitched for it by setting path for developing next 100 smart cities in the country, it became our pick of the week.
Now since the topic is too vast to be covered in one go, we will be splitting it into sections for easy maneuverability across the various fragments.
What is a Smart City?
We scrolled through numerous web pages, discussed with experts, but, found it difficult to extract a precise definition for a smart city. One thing that we could say for sure is that it is about an effort to take the quality of human life towards standards set at level of idealism.
Before understanding the “What”, we might need to get over with “Why”:
Some of the other terms that have been used for similar concepts are:
Digital city: This would comprise of locally focused, fully integrated, online network encompassing whole of city processes into a single seamless thread.
Flexicity: In a age where technology is growing exponentially, it would be a city having processes and infrastructure made flexible enough for the authorities to allow its upgradation to next version without breaking the existing system.
Intelligent City: A city planned after studying a range of data on air quality, whether conditions, humidity level, traffic, crime, socio-economic status etc to change systems and functionality of cities. Primary focus is on collecting terabytes of data using researchers / sensors etc and feeding the same to an optimal analyzer before letting the information pass through human scrutiny.
Knowledge-based city: A Knowledge-based city is the one that nurtures knowledge and provides an environment for it. William Lever, through his papers, have established a broad relationship between the quality of knowledge base and economy change.
MESH city: MESH stands for Mobile, Efficient, Subtle, and Heuristics. MESH Cities use adaptive, citizen-focused, self-forming networks to learn and inform new design solutions.
They all have their pros and focus on one or more aspects of modernization. As was mentioned earlier, Smart City is a concept that has no true definition and could be considered to be the one encompassing features from one or more of the above.
In the age of Information Technology, it could be safely said that no city could be given this tag until all the city processes / functions are fully digitized. Also, no city can become truly smart unless it is populated by well informed citizens. It should have a place and plan for people of all socio-economic status and with all sorts of cultural and religious beliefs.
The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (the Act, from hereon) is a Government of India initiative to bring about the much needed transparency and order to the real estate related transactions by creating a systematic and a uniform regulatory environment and paves the way for setting up of RERA for regulation and promotion of real estate sector. This was done to protect the consumer interest and to make developers accountable for timely completion of projects.
Draft rules under RERA were issued in June, 2016, which did not cover the on-going projects. Final rules for it got notified in October, this year, by the ministry of Housing and Urban population.
Central Govt’s rules are applicable to all UTs, but in case of States, it will serve as a model template and could be tweaked to meet specific local demands.
Below is an insight into the Center’s version of it.
For Ongoing Projects:
All promoters of all ongoing projects which have not received completion certificate will have to register with the state-level regulatory authority and provide complete disclosure of project details.
Developers will have to deposit 70% of the amount collected from homebuyers in a separate bank (escrow) account within 3 months of registering a project with RERA. An escrow account is under the purview of a third party essentially a bank or a recognized lender. This provision thereby results in further oversight of the bank account and signing authority is with the escrow account manager say a trustee or a bank or a lender. The funds from an escrow account can only be withdrawn on the request of an engineer, architect and a chartered accountant, by a real estate developer solely for the purpose of construction of the project to which the account belongs and that too in proportion to the stage of work.
Registration of project with RERA
For registration of projects with the authorities, developers will be required to submit details, such as:
Sale on Carpet area and not super build up area
Consumer must know what exactly is he paying for, and hence, the promoter shall be required to declare the size of the apartment based on carpet area (net usable area of the unit and does not include common areas, balconies, verandahs etc) instead of the super build up area.
The law makes it mandatory for developers to post all information on issues such as project plan, layout, government approvals, land title status, sub contractors to the project, schedule for completion with the State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and then in effect pass this information on to the consumers.
The promoter will also have to upload details regarding number and type of apartments or plots, status of the project with photographs floor-wise, status of construction of internal infrastructure and common areas with photos, status of approvals received and expected date of receipt, within 15 days of expiry of each quarter on the project website.
Consumer must make timely payments as per the agreement for sale to the real estate developer and against his share of registration charges, taxes, maintenance charges etc or pay interest at a prescribed rate, in case of delay. Possession must be taken within 2 months after the occupancy certificate is issued. Consumer must play an active role towards registration of conveyance deed of the unit, formation of an association of consumers etc.
The Act mandates setting up of an Appellate tribunal by the appropriate government within one year of the Act coming into force. So, State RERA is the first body to approach in case of disputes and as per set of rules this body can establish the nature of violation and prescribe the penalty/ punishment. Any person aggrieved by the decisions of the RERA or an adjudicating officer can appeal to the Appellate Tribunal. This set up will fast track the process of dispute settlement since it minimizes the involvement of the existing judicial system.
Discrimination in sale of properties on any grounds will also not be entertained under the new rules. Adjudicating Officers, Real Estate Authorities and Appellate Tribunals shall dispose of complaints within 60 days
A person can appeal in High Court if he is aggrieved by decision of the Appellate Tribunal however this isn’t allowed in cases where the decision was reached after consent of the disputing parties. The person has to approach High Court within 60 days of receiving the decision.
If an intermediary violates the rules prescribed by the RERA, he will be liable to a penalty for every day of the violation caused and the sum could increase up to 5% of the total estimated cost of the unit in question.
In case of delays, developers will be required to pay compensation to the allottees with an Interest Rate of SBI’s highest Marginal Cost of Lending Rate plus 2%. This effectively means a developer will have to pay interest rates of 11 to 12 % in case of a delay in project delivery.
The rules also contain clauses providing for compounding of punishment with imprisonment for violation of the orders of Real Estate Appellate Tribunal against payment of 10% of project cost in case of developers and 10% of the cost of property purchased in case of allottees and agents.
In a departure from the draft rules, the requirement of disclosing Income Tax returns has been withdrawn in the final rules keeping in view the confidentiality attached with them and as pointed out by legal experts and promoters.
After discussing out on what and why of Delhi’s Land Pooling Policy and Country Homes / LDRA, we will move on to the next and the most important section of the policy’s R-zone, i.e., High Density development.
The Policy will be bringing all this land under one umbrella after converting it from its current Agricultural status to R-zone. This will comprise of High Density areas which should get to see high-rises and Low density residential areas also known as country homes.
In this section we will be discussing about the former one.
The policy is based on a new concept of land aggregation against the traditional practice of land acquisition by the government(s) for undertaking large scale residential/commercial projects.
Under this, DDA will be undertaking urbanization of around 24,000 hectares of publicly owned land through land pooling to accommodate a population of around 50 Lakh in outer Delhi zones, namely, P-II, L, N etc.
Key Points: R-Zone – High Density – DDA’s Land pooling Policy
The policy aims at providing affordable housing to people and covers the huge gap between demand and supply
It is expected to deliver close to Seven hundred thousand of EWS flats for the poor and can help Delhi become slum free to a large extent.
Land Pooling Policy is expected to have an enormous impact on the residential as well as commercial real estate market in and around Delhi.
Though the Delhi govt has given a in-principle nod to the policy but once it puts its physical impression on it for approval, dream of millions of people to own a house in the capital’s upcoming smart cities will become a reality.
In our last post we explained what and why of the Land Pooling Policy. Today we will try to dig deeper into other salient features of the Delhi’s Land Pooling policy.
Under this Policy DDA will be undertaking urbanization of around 24,000 hectares of publicly owned land through land pooling to accommodate a population of around 50 Lakh in outer Delhi zones, namely, P-II, L, N etc.
DDA will be bringing all this land under one umbrella after converting it from its current Agricultural status to R-zone. This will comprise of High Density areas which should get to see high-rises and Low density residential areas also known as country homes.
In this section we will be discussing about the latter one.
‘Country homes’ is an exciting concept for anyone willing to have a lavish space at an affordable price within the capital. 23 villages have been earmarked under LDRA development. Also, 47 villages falling under green belt will be a part of this group.
DDA introduced new norms for owning farm houses in the capital via S.O. No – 1190 (E), on 10th May, 2013.
Key Points on LDRA / Country Homes
This will keep number of dwelling units in these areas in check and will make sure that the periphery of Delhi remains green & eco-friendly.
With all been said, there is just one more thing to add; Delhi is offering a limited opportunity to all to own a bungalow/farmhouse in the heart of the country.
In our next section/post, we will be discussing about the next feature of Land Pooling Policy, i.e., high density residential development.
The land-pooling policy was notified on 5 Sep, 2013; and regulations for its operationalization were approved by UD ministry in 2015. All we are waiting for is the declaration of 95 villages as urban.
Why Land Pooling?
Till now, Delhi had been at the mercy of DDA for the development of new housing units; or the city was being burdened by unauthorized construction by converting agricultural land into unauthorized colonies. DDA had never been capable of meeting the housing requirement of the capital and neither were they able to meet the construction standards been set by the builders. Besides, land acquisition is no longer a preferred mode for accumulating large chunks of land for bringing up of planned township. There have been several occasions where such projects had to face farmer agitations at some stage.
Yes, Land-Pooling is the answer we had been waiting for to meet the growing housing and infrastructural needs, and to turn the capital into the city of the future.
What is Land Pooling?
DDA’s land pooling policy envisages public-private partnership in land assembly and development in Delhi. Delhi’s Land-Pooling is a concept where small chunks of land, owned by group of owners, will be assembled for the development of infrastructure and smart sub-cities, as per the provisions of the Delhi Development Act 1957. After the development of land, DDA will redistribute the land after deducting some portion as compensation towards infrastructure costs.
Land owners, let they be farmers, societies, or builder groups, will be considered as Developer Entity (DE) by DDA. DE having 50 acres (20 Ha) or more land will get 60% land back while others having over 5 acres but less than 50 acres of land will get around 48% of land back from DDA. The remaining land would be used by DDA for infrastructure development per MPD 2021.
DDA in association with the govt will act as a facilitator with minimum intervention and will catalyze speedy, integrated planned development. Govt/DDA will have regulations in place for building standards , delivery time etc, but, will otherwise give a free hand to the Developer Entities on pricing etc.
Through this policy DDA will be able to develop the urban extension area, measuring roughly 24 thousand hectares. These areas will be self contained with all facilities and infrastructure.
Prospective buyers in and around Delhi have been struggling since a while with a very important question of whether they should invest in the NCR region or should wait for the Delhi’s Land Pooling policy to become operational. It has been all about the most preferred choice for home seekers in and around Delhi.
Since last few years, things have not been rosy for people who have somehow managed to pull in enough resources to buy some property in Delhi/NCR region. NCR region has been in a state of correction after witnessing India’s largest real-estate boom in the residential market. Builders are staring at a piled up inventory of unsold homes and that has led to dipping sales.
Economic slowdown has had an impact on all industries including real-estate sector. Then there had been other factors, such as delays which took a toll on the end user’s confidence. Per a survey done last year, construction for over 4 lakh flats was running over 2 years behind schedule. This has led Investors to go on their back foot causing a further setback and has acted as a roadblock in the pace of construction.
During the explosive early period when real-estate market in NCR was bullish, many builders passed reserves from one project into newer ones eyeing an exponential growth. This too led to the current financial crunch.
After witnessing the up’s and downs of the NCR real-estate market, Delhi is all set to join the bandwagon and should convincingly grab the spot for the most preferred/prominent real estate hub in North-India.
In the current offerings, sellers are refusing to lower their prices, and buyers are refusing to meet the asking prices for property. This has resulted in a standstill in the property transactions since the buyers are willing to wait further for the prices to become more affordable. Delhi’s Land Pooling Policy is for sure an answer to this deadlock which has all the ingredients for dwelling a true smart (sub) city right within the heart of the country and will offer smart homes to the smart buyers at affordable prices.
Though, the DDA’s ambitious land pooling policy for the capital has been in doldrums since its inception and has recently became victim of state-center apathy because of political-technical differences, will get to rise beyond expectations once it’s been through the current phase.
Stay in-tune for further updates on the Land Pooling policy which should soon step out of the paper on the real ground.
There are a number of options in the market for homebuyers interested in DDA’s Land Pooling Policy. This comprises of both Societies and builders. Also, there is no clarity on the legality of their existence and if they could sell the units before the commencement of anything concrete on the ground. So if one still feels keen in looking into the available options, we would like to offer a check list for the prospective buyers.
A number of like-minded individuals come together and decides to take a route leading them towards a common interest. With time more people would join the bandwagon ensuring the sustainability of the idea. As far as we understand, societies have always worked on a similar principal. DDA’s Land Pooling Policy is one such lucrative concept which has lured people from public / private companies alike into forming such housing /welfare societies to take advantage of the policy. DDA too has abstained from taking a clear stand on the legitimacy of such societies.
One must take into account certain precautions before investing into any proposed society/builder project in any of the zones under LPP.
Registration and Mutation of Land:
First comes the NOC after which comes registration of the land. It is then followed by mutation which could also be considered the most important step towards the procurement. One must ensure that the society holds the required papers for the land they claim to be theirs.
Do a background check:
Not all societies would be formed by genuine beings. Try not to get swept away with the market sentiment and do a thorough check for the authenticity of the managing committee.
Societies are supposed to work on a no-profit no-loss basis and no commercial activity should be carried out by them. They are supposed to get their accounts audited after the end of every financial year. Better level of communication is expected since most of the times they get formed with the participation of known ones.