WATCH: Cities have to be meaningful to live in before they become smart, says Uday Bhaskar of Godrej Properties

How can Indian cities become smart while still dealing with pollution and water scarcity? In a conversation with YourStory Business Editor Vishal Krishna, Uday Bhaskar, who heads Godrej Properties in the South, says Indian cities must focus on sustainability first.

Bengaluru is running out of water and Delhi is struggling with air pollution. Both great cities had a narrative going: one of ‘Garden City’ and the other as one hosting historical monuments. Both are now struggling to provide a good quality of life for their residents. In this video interview with YourStory Uday Bhaskar, Business Head (South), Godrej Properties, a Rs 5,300-crore in revenue company, tell us that the real estate development industry is becoming more integrated with technology and is no longer just about building and selling. He delves into how to make Indian cities meaningful by converting intent to action.

Uday Bhaskar, Business Head (South), Godrej Properties

“Are we enhancing the city in some fashion or not is the question we have to ask ourselves, and it is the intent that all stakeholders in the city have to contribute to. Historically, cities like Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Chandigarh were planned well. There was a partnership with the public and private entities to plan those cities. Urban planners have to evolve the culture of the city with the physical and social aspect,” Uday explains.

The government is pushing smart cities as a concept where physical assets will be converted into digital ones. India has earmarked 100 cities for conversion into smart cities.

The government had allocated Rs 7,060 crore for the Smart Cities Mission in its Interim Budget of 2014-15. The Budget of 2015-16 had a provision of Rs 6,000 crore for the Mission, and the development of 500 habitations under the National Urban Rejuvenation Mission (NURM). A government panel has approved the allocation of Rs 2.73 lakh crore over the next 10 years for the development of 100 smart cities and 500 cities under NURM.

According to ABI Research, smart cities technology is an $8.1 billion market today, and in five years, the market will grow to almost five times that size, reaching $39.5 billion. Pike Research forecasts that investment in smart city technology infrastructure will total $108 billion during the decade from 2010 to 2020. The Smart 2020 report is even more bullish, claiming the related technologies and industries will grow four-fold to become a $2.1 trillion market by 2020.

“A city has a narrative when society at large participates in it meaningfully. They have to save water and make our air breathable. But people think it is their birthright to deplete resources without understanding the reality that we are degrading our society,” Uday points out.

Watch the interview with Uday here:

Also read: How smart cities can ensure its citizens stay healthy


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