Are we re­ally smart?

Down to Earth - - LETTERS -

This is with ref­er­ence to the ed­i­to­rial, "How smart is a smart city?" (Au­gust 1-15, 2014). Do we re­ally need smart ci­ties that serve the needs of the rich and ne­glect the poor, or do we need ci­ties that can im­prove the qual­ity of life of all its peo­ple? In talk­ing about build­ing 100 smart ci­ties, the BJP gov­ern­ment seems to have for­got­ten about the pol­lu­tion that will be gen­er­ated in de­vel­op­ing the re­quired in­fra­struc­ture. While ex­ist­ing ci­ties strug­gle for elec­tric­ity and clean drink­ing wa­ter, smart ci­ties will cre­ate new av­enues for the real es­tate mafia and lead to more pol­lu­tion.


The Cen­tre for Sci­ence and En­vi­ron­ment has again shown that it is pos­si­ble to have prac­ti­cal and sim­ple so­lu­tions to our ur­ban ills. And this can be achieved at rea­son­able costs, with ben­e­fits in the health sec­tor, re­duced pol­lu­tion, bet­ter liv­ing con­di­tions and over­all de­vel­op­ment of so­ci­ety. It is un­for­tu­nate that no one in the gov­ern­ment is smart enough to un­der­stand the real mean­ing of "smart". Why is the de­fault def­i­ni­tion of the word as­sumed to be high-tech sys­tems and ser­vices?


Up­grad­ing small towns into smart ci­ties will en­tail un­de­sir­able ur­ban prob­lems, like pol­lu­tion, encroachment, loss of cul­tivable land and wa­ter bod­ies, dis­place­ment, un­man­age­able waste, in­flux of mi­grant labour­ers and lack of civic ameni­ties. I hope the gov­ern­ment ad­dresses th­ese is­sues while draw­ing up the ac­tion plan. In fact, smart vil­lages should have got prece­dence over smart ci­ties.


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