Bhubaneswar tops ‘Smart City Test’

Ministry of Urban Development announces first batch of 20 smart cities from 11 States and Delhi

Bhubaneswar, Pune and Jaipur in that order, lead the list of the first 20 smart cities announced by the Minister of Urban Development that will benefit from the Prime Minister’s ambitious election promise of smart cities.

The Government announced the 20 winners of the Smart City Challenge competition for financing during this financial year. Announcing the cities in an event organised at National Media Centre, Minister of Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu said that the winners were from 11 States and the Union Territory of Delhi and the selection was totally objective and transparent based on standardized processes. To qualify, states and local body administrations had to give ‘smart’ answers on a template questionnaire with 43 questions.

Naidu further said that the Smart City Mission marks a paradigm shift towards urban development in the country since it is based on ‘bottom up’ approach with the involvement of citizens in formulation of city vision and smart city plans and the Urban Local Bodies and State Governments piloting the mission with little say for the Ministry of Urban Development. He also observed that it was for the first time in the country and even in the world that investments in urban sector are being made based on competition based selection of cities.

Informing that 1.52 crore citizens participated in shaping smart city plans of 97 cities and towns in the first round of the competition, Naidu said that this enthusiastic participation of people is a major positive outcome. Three cities from Madhya Pradesh, two each from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan and one each from Assam, Delhi, Kerala, Odisha and Punjab made it to the winning list.

The Minister informed that 23 States and UTs who could not make to the list of winners will be given an opportunity to participate in a ‘fast track competition’. Each top ranking city from these left out states can upgrade their smart city proposals and submit them by April 15, this year for inclusion in the mission.

Warangal in Telangana with 54.79% score is the top contender in the fast track competition. Other contenders in top ten are: Chandigarh (54.73); Lucknow (53.24); New Town Kolkata (53.10); Panjim (Goa) with 52.99; Pasighat (Arunachal Pradesh) with 52.26; Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh) with 48.10; Faridabad (Haryana) with 47.86; Raipur (Chhattisgarh) with 47.60 and Bhagalpur (Bihar) with a score of 47.39%. Naidu informed that the 20 winning cities and towns have proposed a total investment of Rs 50,802 cr over five years with all the cities proposing Public-Private-Partnership as a major vehicle of resource mobilization. Ten of the 20 cities have proposed to mobilize Rs 8,521 cr under PPP model while others have also indicated this option. A total area of 26,735 acres has been identified by these cities for making them smart through necessary interventions.Elaborating on the advantages of Smart City Mission, Venkaiah Naidu said that this leads to integrated urban planning by addressing the issue of infrastructure, land use planning, transport, urban design and architecture in a holistic manner unlike in the past. Stating that building a smart city is not a destination but a series of small steps in that direction. The Minister said that urban local bodies are taking a quantum jump to improve their capabilities and have resorted to SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of each city for developing the city vision.

Realtors’ body CREDAI also hailed the selection of the first 20 cities for ‘Smart City’ programme, saying the initiative would provide great opportunity for the real estate development, particularly in the affordable homes segment, with improvement in infrastructure of these towns. “It’s a good initiative by the government. Satellite towns around these smart cities will be good opportunity for the real estate development especially affordable housing,” CREDAI President Getamber Anand said.

Key features in selected cities

  • T Nagar in Chennai will be converted into a pedestrian-friendly high-street retail hub with provision for cycle tracks. Chennai has proposed Intelligent Traffic Management System to integrate public transport network, video surveillance to monitor encroachments of footpath and water management, including a disaster management system for floods and a tsunami monitoring and warning system.
  • Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) had proposed an integrated transit management platform, a mobile application that will help citizens to plan their journeys -right from hiring an auto rickshaw to boarding a BRTS, metro rail or a regional railway train
  • About 550 acres in the New Delhi City Centre, consisting of Connaught Place and surrounding areas, will be retrofitted at a cost of Rs 1,897 crore
  • Surat – Under the area-based development plan, textile market area would be taken up first followed by retrofitting in four neighbouring town planning schemes of Anjana and Parvat Patiya. The corporation is also looking at skywalk-connected markets to reduce congestion
  • Ludhiana- e-rickshaws to be introduced in the entire city to replace auto-rickshaws by 2020. Efforts would be made to provide these eco-friendly vehicles at subsidised rates. The corporation will also install unique identification number (UID) plates on each property of the city, based on the geographic information system (GIS)
  • Bhopal wants to redevelop 350 acres of government land at a cost of Rs 3,440 crore through pan-city revenue, redevelopment revenue, grants and budget allocation, among others.

Bhubaneswar to make city traffic ‘smart’

Bhubaneswar‘s proposal has a cost of Rs 4,537 cr and aims to retrofit and redevelop 985 acres around the main railway station

The capital of Odisha and popularly known as the temple city, Bhubaneswar, was designed by the German architect Otto Konigsberger in 1946. Apart from Chandigarh and Jamshedpur, it is one of the first planned cities of India.

The city is fast emerging as an information technology and education hub. A Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), 2010, is in place to create a world-class city. CDP has a proposal for an investment of Rs 29,500 crore, of which Rs 15,000 crore will be public investment and the rest will come from private sources. The state government has already initiated steps to provide Wi-Fi across the city.

Public transport is high on Bhubaneswar‘s wishlist. Odisha‘s capital will focus on making public transport available to all of its 1 million residents in the next 3-4 years, and have a smart traffic management for unclogging its roads. Bhubaneswar Municipal Commissioner Dr Krishan Kumar said the first priority of BMC would be to provide reliable and quick transport. “In all our polls, public transport emerged as the major issue with it securing 32 per cent of the votes. We have now around 100 buses rolling inside the municipal area. We plan to increase it to 400 in next 4 years with provision of night service buses. The focus will be on making people use public transport more,” he said.

Even on the Bhubaneswar smart city Facebook page, which also topped the Facebook pages of other cities, public transport is high on the wish list. An action plan has also been prepared for better traffic management in which all traffic lights would be interconnected through an intelligent city operation and management centre. Each of the junctions would have five CCTV cameras to keep an eye on traffic law violators, while 40 junctions would sport environmental sensors. As part of the smart city programme, the focus will be on turning roads into streets so that they don‘t belong just to those driving vehicles.

“The roads will be made pedestrian friendly with facilities for bicycle renting and sharing like cities in foreign countries. There is no point just widening the roads as the Gurgaon Expressway has proved. Changing the travel habits with a smart public transport system will unclog the roads,” Krishan Kumar said.

Currently, Bhubaneswar has a road length of 1064 km but a majority of the roads is narrow with little or no footpath on either side. To make all the 10-12 government departments in the city follow a common guideline on street design, BMC has drafted a street design guideline in which footpath will be an integral part. To start with, the 5 km long Janpath that runs along the city will be turned into a pedestrian friendly roadway. The city railway station will be developed by the municipal corporation by turning it into a multi-modal hub in which there will be multi-level parking area, night shelters, street vendor market and place for hosting cultural events. There will be 4.2 lakh sqft of retail space available for hotels and convention centres in the hub.

Officials said in the next five years, Bhubaneswar like other cities will get Rs 1000 crore with the Centre pitching in half of it. However, most of the money needed for turning the city into a smart one will come from private parties. The Bhubaneswar Town centre district, which occupies just about 3 per cent of the municipal area, will need Rs 4,537 crore for its development, half of which needs funding through public-private partnership.

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