20 March 2018


State Editions
Why not go in for ‘Smart Villages’ concept?
Saturday, 17 March 2018 | SANJOY KUMAR SATPATHY | in Bhubaneswar
By 2050, the world’s population will reach almost 10 billion. This fact presents an unprecedented challenge that shifts the responsibility to cities as the United Nations estimates that 67 per cent of the world’s inhabitants will live in urban areas. The economic, demographic, social and environmental challenges are likely to be tackled with one and the same concept: Smart Cities. Governments from all over the globe are, in parallel mostly and in collaboration in some cases, playing the same card by trying to make everything “smart” under the same idiotic ideas of smart cities and projects with some great projects that aim to improve the lives of the inhabitants of cities.
We reviewed some of them here and concluded that this is a political idea and nothing to do with real improvement in living standard of the people residing there in cities. Bhubaneswar’s air is highly polluted, but it is considered to be amongst best twenty cities of the world!
Instead of the smart cities concept, our present Prime Minister should have stressed for a ‘Smart Villages’ concept in a country where the urban population’s ‘smart requirements’ would have shifted to villages where 70 per cent of the population lives. Our cities have become congested with unhygienic environment and stressful life. Peaceful village life has been converted to slums around cities. Different Governments went for wrong projects and slowly destroyed the Indian village life. Modern facilities remained confined around cities only; hence, the mass exodus of villagers to big cities started from the 1970s onward, even the education institutions, hospitals centered inside big cities on Government lands.
The Government should have stopped the industrial revolution of Nehru and started Jai Jawan Jai Kissan projects. The corporate houses should have been asked to shift their hospitals, big bazaars, and showrooms from big cities to vacant uncultivated lands. Creation of forests near each village and plantation projects near highways should be the best way to start the smart village projects. Multistory residential houses should be built near these smart villages where doctors, paramedical staffs and teachers could stay. The population should be evenly distributed all over India. Because of infrastructures and good roads, there would be no constrains for the Government to have this new scheme.
Time is running out due to deforestation and foreign industries in India resulting in global warming. Instead of reducing vehicles on roads, the Government is encouraging the automobile industry for financial gains at a cost. Even after seventy years of independence, villagers do not get good drinking water and modern medical facilities. Having different projects does not mean the country will progress. The banks, the airlines and railways run by the Government are full of corrupt officials, a fact which surfaces from time to time once a Government goes out of power.
I think our PM instead of this smart city dream must think seriously about the “Smart Villages” concept and encourage people to stay away from the overcrowded cities. Chandrababu Naidu had this “Smart Cities” concept decades back but he was voted out of power. We hope the present Government does not meet a similar fate in near future!
(The writer is a former Joint Director, SAIL)

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