TIME TO DELIVER First 100 cities chosen through competition would house one centre each

The Centre has begun groundwork to deliver a major poll promise — 100 innovation zones across India. The innovation centres would be linked to Smart City Mission of Modi 1.0. The first 100 cities chosen through a competitive process would house one innovation centre each. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has entrusted the spadework to NitiAayog, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

According to officials involved in the groundwork, the innovation centres would be used as tinkering laboratories to solve urban issues, including traffic congestion, mosquito breeding, stray dog menace or pollution due to local industries.

A team of officials has been asked to see the best cities which would be best suited to launch at least 10 innovation centres. A source, involved in the whole planning process who did not wish to be identified “The better performing cities chosen under Smart City Mission already have command and control centres, which have data and infrastructure to understand the urban issues plaguing that local body. Now, some urban local bodies would be chosen to launch pilot projects, which would showcase technological or economic innovations that could address a major challenge area.”

In its 2019 manifesto, under “Entrepreneurship and Startups” section, BJP had promised, “India is now among the largest startup ecosystems of the world. We will further strengthen this ecosystem by… Creating 100 Innovation Zones in Urban Local Bodies.” Each urban local body would flag an issue and the idea would be thrown open to entrepreneurs from all over the country to come and suggest a solution. This would be done through the innovation zone or centre. Another official said, “There are many urban problems in cities. For instance, a city could flag mosquito breeding. With the systems in command and control centre, the city has been mapped on certain parameters. An entrepreneur could put in place a software which could set off alarms if there are some breeding spots discovered.”