India 2040: Welcome to digitally controlled cities

Futuristic cities, smart grids recycling power, water and waste; and public transportation harnessed by technology. Welcome to the new India envisioned under the $100-billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), that will see creation of seven hotspots – smart cities along the corridor running through Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the NCR.

Twenty-four investment and industrial hubs on both sides of the 1,500-km-long railway freight line will cater to the 600 million people expected to live in Indian cities by 2030.

The dedicated line connecting Delhi to Mumbai is expected to cut on the time taken to transport manufactured goods from India’s North to its ports in the West.

However, while funding issues have been sorted out, with Japanese and Russian companies investing in the project, land acquisition and the political-administrative will remain stumbling blocks.

While some states like Gujarat and Maharashtra are in advanced stages of acquiring land, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are just getting started.

“Land acquisition is a huge challenge going forward. Going by our past experience, we will have to undertake innovative ways to acquire land. We will have to purchase directly after receiving the farmers consent,” said Rama Raman, CEO of Greater Noida Authority.

For a project of this scale that will touch the lives of about 14 per cent of India’s population, the challenges on the ground will be immense.

With 700 million Indians expected to move to the urban centers by 2050, the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor could be a game-changer for the country. The cities in question will be compact, dense and vertical. Trunk infrastructure like water and sewage will be set up by the government and the city-building will be managed by public-private consortiums.

“We do have an advantage in the technology of environment protection and energy conservation. So, these are the areas where the Japanese companies will be able to demonstrate in promoting this idea of being a smart city,” said H E Akitaka Saiki, Japanese ambassador to India.

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