(p. A8) AMARAVATI, India—The government planners now dreaming up India’s first “smart city” realize they have a problem.
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The problem is that none of India’s modern-day planned cities have lived up to their hype. Instead, they have succumbed to slums, crowding and chaos.
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Mr. Modi and other leaders are striving to avoid the mistakes of past grand urban development plans. In Navi Mumbai, a satellite city of 1.1 million next to financial capital Mumbai, the latest national census determined that around one of every five residents now lives in a slum—defined in India as at least 300 people or about 60-70 households living in poorly built, congested dwellings without basic infrastructure such as drinking water.
Gurugram, a new city previously known as Gurgaon south of the capital Delhi, is likewise dotted with slums and struggles to provide services such as sewerage, water, drainage and firefighting.
Efforts to provide such services to slum residents—who rarely pay for property taxes or for utilities—have left many cities financially crippled, unable to do more or raise money to upgrade infrastructure. Only one Indian city has managed to raise a municipal bond in the last decade.
Amaravati, its planners in the state development agency say, will be different.
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Every contingency has been thought of, state planners say.
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(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 18, 2017, and has the title “New ‘Smart City’ Hatches Solutions to India’s Urban Chaos.” Where the online version has more words than the print version, the quotes above follow the online version.)