AIILSG organises Urban Dialogues – Reimagining Bhopal

All India Institute of Local Self-Government along with Bhopal Municipal Corporation and Bhopal Smart City organised Urban Dialogues – Reimaging Bhopal at Palash Residency Hotel, TT Nagar in Bhopal.

Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Jaivardhan Singh was present as the chief guest. Singh thanked AIILSG for organising Urban Dialogues and said that Bhopal is open to feedbacks for better development and implementation of the city plan. He mentioned that from past 24 years Bhopal has not reviewed its master plan, and my objective is to create a new and more effective master plan within a time frame of one year. Development of Bhopal’s master plan is one of the most challenging yet essential step that is needed for the city’s development as per the aspirations of the citizens.

Singh further talked about preparing development plans while keeping in mind the preservation of the greenery, lakes and hillocks for which Bhopal is well known. He concluded on the note that more inflow of industries, investment is needed to boost the development process.

B Vijay Datta, Municipal Commissioner of Bhopal, was present as the special guest. He began his address by talking about the achievements of Bhopal city as he mentioned – Bhopal was ranked as the second best smart city in the country also the city has been awarded for its advanced digital payment services. We are trying to reach at no. 1 position. Discussing the theme, he said, “We need to develop the city while keeping alive its original history and we are all geared up for it.”

Minister of Law (IC) and Public Relations, P C Sharma also graced the occasion as a Special Guest. His speech focused on the provision of better delivery of basic amenities and civic services to the people primarily. He raised concerns on the state of educational institutions and other infrastructure that will be demolished under the redevelopment projects under the smart city plan for Bhopal. He also talked about taking feedbacks from institutions like AIILSG for better implementation of development plans.

Session 1 of the conference focused on Smart City Bhopal, which witnessed appreciations and criticism on the implementation of Bhopal Smart City plan. Nirmala Buch, Former Chief Secretary, Madhya Pradesh chaired the session. Ramaji Awasti, Additional CEO of Bhopal Smart City, presented the details of the developments that Bhopal has witnessed installation of smart poles, integration of various civic services with the Integrated Command and Control Centre, monitoring system for water quality, and more. He talked about the development of dedicated cycle tracks, pedestrian walkways and multilevel parking.

Nirmala Buch, highlighted some of the loopholes in the implementation of the Smart City Plan. She highlighted the damage done to Bhopal’s greenery, lakes and other natural resources.

Pashim Tewari, Technical Director of AIILSG took forward the discussion by supporting Smart City Mission. He described about various initiatives under the plan and also answered few concerns raised by the panel and the audience. He said that the transformation of urban spaces is a continuing process and the smart cities in India will evolve with time.

Session 2 of the conference was centred on linking infrastructure, environment and mobility for sustainable Bhopal. Anthony de Sa, Former Chief Secretary, Madhya Pradesh chaired the session. Anthony in his address said that Smart City plan has both positive and negative reviews from the people and balance should be created. He further said that mobility and infrastructure are to be seen as a part and parcel of one whole package.

Ravindra Saxena, IFS (Retd.) and Environmentalist, put forward his concerns regarding the environmental issues. He discussed on status of the environment and forest in Madhya Pradesh and across India. Climate change and its impact on humans was another key highlight of his address. Dr Prakash Seth, took forward the discussion and highlighted about the CEPT report on the Uppar Lake. His concern was that the report should be released for citizens’ consultation. Dr Arun Paliwal, Joint Secretary Finance, UADD put forward his views on the implementation of Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for implementing city development plans.

Valedictory session was graced by the presence of Rajyavardhan Singh, MLA Badnawar, who delivered his point of views on the development of Bhopal. He said that one of the primary issue is waste management. He highlighted Hyderabad as a good example to learn from. He further emphasised on the importance of implementing PPP model as a solution to financial crunch that the government is facing. Rajiv Agarwal, Director General, AIILSG chaired the session. Ravi Ranjan Guru, Deputy Director General, AIILSG laid down all the key points of the conference and concluded the session.

Key Outcomes of Urban Dialogues

  • Lakes, greenery, hillocks are the most important aspects of Bhopal city and must be preserved while implementation of projects and initiatives to make Bhopal a smart city. The ecology of the city should not be compromised.
  • Master Plan of Bhopal need to be made and released early. Sh Jaivardhan Singh has announced during Urban Dialogues-Reimagining Bhopal that the new Master Plan of the city will see the light of the day with in one year.
  • Bhopal needs to focus on issues like lake conservation, cleanliness of water bodies, proper sewage network, and most of all on the city’s efficient mobility.
  • Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) and Bike Sharing System projects should be revisited and planned according to city’s terrain, demography and citizens’ convenience.
  • Bhopal has witnessed a makeover under the smart city mission. Developments like dedicated cycle track, pedestrian walkways, traffic monitoring system, water quality monitoring system, smart poles, and much more have been already implemented in the city. Artificial Intelligence is being used for effective implementation of various projects and facilities.
  • Citizens also have a responsibility to engage in the development process and contribute their bit to make the city a better place to live.
  • Temperature in and around Bhopal city is rising. Conservation of wetland and their catchment areas, vegetation and other natural resources is significantly important to ensure preservation of city’s ecosystem.
  • Integration of basic civic services such as solid waste management, cleaning of roads, drinking water, adequate sewage network and management of public spaces is required in the new and old Bhopal alike.
  • CEPT Report on the upper lake of Bhopal should be released for citizen consultation.
  • Involvement of citizens in smart city plan must be strengthened. There should be regular dialogues with citizens and their suggestions should be taken into consideration while making and implementing plans. Urban development of Bhopal should fulfil the aspirations of the citizens.
  • Creating a platform to have robust community participation is the need of the hour. It should enable all stakeholders such as public representatives, education institutions, prominent citizen voices and industry players.
  • Public Private Partnership (PPP) have various models. These models can be discussed to address the financial issues for introducing new projects and program. Mutual trust in PPP projects is necessary for the success of projects.                   
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