Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy believes that India was “far, far away” from realising the ambition of developing smart cities. He thought of smart cities as a “fancy concept.”
“Since we are far, far away from smart cities, I did not talk about it,” Murthy said, when asked why he did not mention the smart city project during his one-hour lecture on ‘City Systems’ in Mumbai.
“I am a doer, I am not just a talker,” he said.
Murthy also asked the audience to visit Infosys’s campus in Mysore to have a taste of what a smart city can be.
Smart cities project is Modi government’s flagship programme and was launched on June 25, 2016. The scheme has started the execution of Smart City Plans of 20 cities selected in the first round of ‘Smart City Challenge Competition.’ Smart Cities and as many as 69 such works entails a total investment of about Rs 1,770 crore.
These projects are related to solid waste management under Swachh Bharat Mission, water supply projects, sewage treatment plants and development of open and green spaces under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
In his lecture, Murthy came down heavily on poor infrastructure in Indian cities and said, “Poor infrastructure can drive away investments and talent.” He also gave an example of how Mumbai has suffered due to this continued neglect.
“10 or 12 years ago, the desire was to position Mumbai as the Asian financial centre. We are nowhere near that dream for the very simple reason that investments are not coming in, talents are not simply available, productivity has gone down and growth has slowed down.
“The government should not compare our cities with those in the developed world, but should look at the emerging market peers like Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia which are taking great efforts to make cities better,” Murthy said.
He said our cities must be developed for higher economic growth by realising their socioeconomic potential, and urged politicians and bureaucrats to work for the same.