Governance structures: A crucial prerequisite

By Hemant Sahai and Sunei Kapur, HSA Advocates

Developing a smart city is not for the faint hearted and will require a paradigm shift in vision and execution. The existing governance structures will come under stress and citizens will demand dramatically higher levels of efficiency in administration. If the current urban managers cannot deliver, what are the alternatives? More significantly, does India’s constitutional and legal framework permit such radical change? These issues are more complex for cities transitioning to the “smart” tag than for greenfield cities, as the bureaucratic structures tend to be slow, opaque and do not encourage innovation, all of which is anathema to a smart city.

Hemant Sahai
Hemant Sahai

The creation of infrastructure on a massive scale and now the smart cities in the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) requires balancing the interests of private investors and public policy. While designing the governance structures for DMIC and now for the Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor, HSA’s mandate was to ensure the creation of institutionalized structures with adequate legal authority to design and award projects to private investors in a transparent and effective manner and at the same time ensure that the projects are bankable, provide appropriate allocation of risk among the stakeholders and avoid cancellation risks.

DMIC is one of the world’s largest diversified infrastructure projects. It envisages developing six greenfield cities in the first phase, along the 1,483-kilometre western dedicated railway freight corridor. These cities will be designed with all the smart-city attributes including carbon neutrality. The areas currently demarcated for these cities are each under the jurisdiction of multiple administrative authorities.

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Hemant Sahai is the managing partner and Sunei Kapur is a senior associate at the New Delhi office of HSA Advocates. HSA is a full-service firm with offices in New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, and with a correspondent relationship in Bangalore.

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