16 Aug 2018
Smart Cities: You'll soon get free Wi-Fi in Delhi
Parts of the national capital are slated to get free Wi-Fi and high-speed broadband connections soon, following the launch of a slew of smart city projects by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
On Monday, Singh inaugurated the launch of smart city initiatives by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) at an event in Connaught Place.
Here are the details.
Singh: NDMC has set an example by launching its initiatives
The launch of the projects was overseen by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of State for Communication and Railways Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Puri, and Lt. Governor Anil Baijal.
Speaking at the inauguration, Singh said that by successfully launching its smart city initiatives, the NDMC had set a precedent for other aspiring smart cities in India.
All about the smart city initiatives that were launched
Apart from free Wi-Fi, which is a joint venture between NDMC and MTNL, the event also saw other initiatives being launched.
These included smart poles, solar trees, an ideation centre for innovation, 50 LED interactive screens, Ambedkar Vatika, two hi-tech nurseries, four mechanical road sweepers, two litter picking machines, and 10 auto tippers.
Singh also released a book on green initiatives undertaken by NDMC.
Meanwhile, BJP's Delhi unit blasts the AAP government
The Delhi unit of the BJP also used the inauguration of smart city initiatives to launch an attack on Arvind Kejriwal's AAP government.
Lauding the Central government of the BJP for the launch of the projects, the local BJP unit said that Kejriwal should take the launch as a cue, and focus on Delhi's development instead of being "lazy and inactive".
Critical questions about smart cities remain unanswered
Yet, while the launch of the initiatives mark a small, but important step in India's Smart City Mission, answers to questions about the efficacy of such 'smart cities' in solving India's urban challenges remain elusive.
Notably, the concept of a smart city is largely first-world-born, aimed at improving economic and operational efficiency in developed cities that aren't under extreme stress of overpopulation and migration.
Is India ready for smart cities and smart infrastructure?
India's urbanization experience, however, is different, and has been characterized by increasing migration, informality, pressure on jobs, resources, and land, and the consequent chaos arising out of the same.
Neither has India's experience with 'smart infrastructure' been great.
Considering the chaos and informality that characterize Indian urbanization, whether a first-world-centric idea like a smart city can solve urban challenges remains to be seen.
India's experience with 'smart' infrastructure
Notably, if India's experience with the Eastern Peripheral Expressway is anything to go by, smart cities don't seem like the brightest of ideas.
For those unaware, the EPE was touted as India's first 'smart' highway, and came with convincing infrastructure.
However, despite being inaugurated with pomp, the EPE was largely a failure characterized by confused truckers, long queues, chaos, and theft of infrastructure.
Sinha: Free Wi-Fi will be reliable and high-speed
"Online or offline is the status symbol in every person's life today and it will be felicitated by the government reliable network provided by MTNL's optical fibre broadband network," said Manoj Sinha, explaining the free Wi-Fi system for Delhi.
Kejriwal has only made 'false promises', says the BJP
"Kejriwal kept on making false promises to people of Delhi while the BJP government heeded to the demands of Delhiites and gave them free Wi-Fi in the heart of the city," said the BJP via a tweet.