A report by business consultancy Deloitte has put a price tag of $150bn on India’s vision of creating 100 smart cities by 2022.
The report says the bulk of this funding – as much as $120bn – will come from the private sector, but the government still has to create a framework for how it will be spent.
PN Sudarshan, senior director of Deloitte India, said India had to tackle the "major challenges" of project management, government decision-making and regulatory frameworks.
According to the study, much of the initial private money will be spent on establishing WiFi and other telecoms networks required to deliver many of the services associated with smart cities.
The definition of a smart city has been much discussed in India over the past two years, but Prime Minister Modi described it as "comparable to a developed European city"
Sudarshan said ICT service providers will need to lead consortiums for responding to tenders for smart digital solutions for city and state governments.
This is already happening. Reliance Jio, an Indian telecoms provider, is planningÂ to install WiFi services across over 50 cities in 2016, and Google is this year planning to wire up 400 railway stations.
The pledge to develop 100 smart cities was one of the main planks of the Narendra Modi’s campaign for the 2014 Indian election, which his Bharatiya Janata Party won by a large margin.
Since the election, a competition has been held to select the cities, with the winners being announced in August last year.
On Thursday, 28 January, 20 urban areas were selected from that longlist for a $7.5bn makeover. The definition of a smart city has been much discussed in India over the past two years, but Prime Minister Modi described it as "comparable to a developed European city".
The cities chosen were Bhubaneswar, Pune, Jaipur, Surat, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jabalpur, Visakhapatnam, Solapur, Davangere, Indore, the New Delhi area, Coimbatore, Kakinada, Belgaum, Udaipur, Guwahati, Chennai, Ludhiana and Bhopal. Thirteen of them are also listed by the World Health Organisation as among the 20 most polluted in the world.
Alongside this project is another, launched by Modi in June last year, called the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation of Urban Transformation, which aims to upgrade the water supply and sewerage of 500 existing cities. The aim is to ensure that every dweller has access to a tap and a toilet, as well as green spaces and internet access.
Photograph: A slum in Chennai, capital of state of Madras and one of the 20 cities selected for a $7.5bn makeover (Milei Vincel/Wikimedia Commons)