White paper on Urban Development released at RICS Cities Conference

15 July 2016

The School released a white paper titled, 'Urban Makeover: Evolution or Revolution' at the RICS Cities Conference 2016. The conference, held at ITC Maurya Sheraton New Delhi on 19 July 2016, witnessed over 350 industry stalwarts under one roof.

The prime focus of this conference was Government of India’s Smart Cities Mission which was announced in May 2014. The plan was to develop 100 new smart cities. This announcement immediately set off debates and discussions as to what smart cities were, why India needs them, whether these smart cities are appropriate to the Indian context, to name a few.


The Smart Cities Mission was formally launched in June 2015 – declaring funding of INR 500 crores for each of the 100 smart cities. It was also declared that these smart cities would be selected competitively, to avail the benefits, over a period of five years.

A total of 31 cities have been selected to get a smart update. As authorities burn the midnight oil to get their city smart, experts at the RICS conference brainstormed and offered their recommendations to take the project to the next level. The ‘Smart Cities Mission’ which was once just a vision has indeed come a long way.

RICS School of Built Environment (SBE), Amity University partnered on research for the white paper titled, 'Urban Makeover: Evolution or Revolution' that was released at the conference.

Our in-house experts with their wealth of knowledge and experience helped us with their valuable contributions for key chapters in the white paper:

  • 'Vision for Cities' by Sachin Sandhir, Global Managing Director, Emerging Business, RICS

  • 'Transit Oriented Development - A viable urban development model for Indian cities' by Sunil Agarwal FRICS, Associate Dean, School of Real Estate

  • 'Smart cities – opportunities for infrastructure and private sector participation' by DTV Raghu Rama Swamy MRICS, Associate Dean, School of Infrastructure and Director, Research & Consultancy

  • 'From ‘sticks and bricks’ to embracing emerging technologies—future scenario for the Indian Built Environment sector' by Prof. Anil Sawhney FRICS, Associate Dean, School of Construction

  • 'Special Purpose Vehicles in Smart Cities: A new paradigm for urban governance?' by Digbijoy Bhowmik, Head of Policy, South Asia, RICS

The white paper looks at the ground realities of smart cities and its execution challenges. It highlights that India’s Smart Cities Mission will provide immense opportunities for high volume real estate development considering the highest chunk of the proposed capital investment in smart cities (about 89 per cent has been allocated for built environment)

The paper also attempts to look at whether the Mission presents an opportunity for cities to transform themselves, or is it a guarded approach towards trying to get cities and towns to re-look at how they have been managing things for the last 70 years.

Sachin Sandhir, Global Managing Director - Emerging Business, RICS said, “Being a global professional body for built environment, RICS has taken up issues pertaining to urbanization and vision for cities the world over. The white paper attempts to look at the opportunities provided by the Smart Cities Mission for cities to transform themselves and at the same time, highlights challenges that need due attention and discussion. We are working with central and state government bodies on various aspects and providing technical advice and international best practices; helping structure projects that will go into making smart cities and helping them tap into sources of finance from land and real estate assets on a sustained basis.”

About the conference:
The ‘RICS Cities Conference 2016’ brought together recognized thought leaders and key decision makers to help identify and take stock of tools and measures that will help integrate planning organizations and processes, build capacity in infrastructure, financially empower the public sector and promote innovation in urban management. The conference was aimed at gaining insights on the policies being articulated for building world class Indian cities – be it Housing for all or ‘Smart Cities Mission’.

The conference's dialogue and panel discussions focused on:

  • Latest developments on 'Smart Cities' execution

  • Analyzing policy initiatives taken for India's urban transformation

  • Examining stakeholder’s role in overcoming challenges for a smart & urban India

  • Exploring The role of technology in delivering ‘housing for all’

  • Investigating a range of investment for smart funding options

  • Discussing the progress that India has been making on its urban transformation path.