All India Institute of Local Self-Government (AIILSG) along with Indore Municipal Corporation and Indore Smart City Limited organised a one-day conference ‘Urban Dialogues: Reimagining Indore’ on August 21, 2019, at Sayaji Hotel in Indore. The conference brought together various urban experts, decision makers, and other intelligentsia to brainstorm and devise out probable solutions to issues Indore city is facing. Mr. Shankar Lalwani, member of parliament, Indore was the chief guest of the conference. Mr. Lalwani inaugurated the conference with lighting o the lamp.
The conference commenced with Mr. Lalwani addressing the success story of Indore and congratulating the city for achieving first rank twice in a row in Swachh Survekshan survey. He highlighted various development works undergoing in the city. Mr. Lalwani laid emphasis on civic authorities to be more proactive in fulfilling their duties and must have a futuristic approach and plan for situations to come up in next 50 years. He said, “Central government has released 475 crores for the augmentation of Indore Airport terminals in order to increase its capacity.” He ended his address by saying that he look forward to various discussion points and experts’ opinions that would be raise during the conference and can be put into and proper action would ensue.
Rajiv Agarwal, Director General, AIILSG talked about the importance of Urban Dialogues: Reimagining Indore. He said that the conference will try to bring into light various urban issues that Indore city is facing and what probable measures can be taken to overcome them. The Deputy Director General of AIILSG, Mr. Ravi Ranjan Guru highlighted the contributions made by AIILSG in supporting the urban local bodies (ULBs). Mr. Guru talked about capacity building programmes that the institute conducts to empower ULBs. Further detailing on the role of AIILSG he said, the institute takes up various training programmes such as fire training course, sanitation inspector course, and more.
Mr. Abhilash Khandekar, a Senior Journalist detailed about Patrick Geddes, the urban planner who prepared the first master plan of Indore. His points reflected futuristic approach of Geddes who considered urban challenges faced by cities today about 100 years ago.
Mr. Krishna Chaitanya, Additional Commissioner of Indore came to dais and detailed on development works ongoing on the city. He also mentioned about ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ which he said that authorities have taken strict actions for conservation of water. Mr. Chaitanya discussed about the plan implemented in the city in which treated water will be utilised to water parks, washing purposes, in fountains and more. He closed his speech saying that under the smart cities mission efforts are being made to make Indore smarter and not only to upgrade the service delivery, infrastructure but also to take into consideration security of citizens.
Session 1 which focused on smart city initiatives and urban mobility, began with Mr. Anil Srivastava, Mission Director, NITI Aayog putting forth his views on transport issues Indore is current facing. “Mobility is at the center stage of economic development. We want to ensure point to point connectivity. But we would also like to minimize our carbon footprints by limiting personal vehicles. Hence shared commutation should be encouraged.” He said that shifting to e-vehicles is the way to a cleaner future as it is essential to minimize our carbon footprint. He pointed out that development of proper operational charging infrastructure and battery swapping facilities will become prevalent in coming years. He handed over the dais to Mr Kulwant Singh, CEO, 3R WASTE Foundation who addressed the traffic mismanagement in the city of Indore, where road fatalities are commonplace.
Road safety is especially important and calls for a modification in the existing traffic norms. Also pointing out, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure must be prioritized rather than the conventional automobiles as more than 80 per cent of Indians don’t own such vehicles and hence are neglected in our current mobility plans. The third speaker to address the session was Mr Umakant Chaudhary, Additional deputy General, Indore Traffic Police, who, with the help of a small AV, demonstrated how fatal road accidents can be. He highlighted that most of the accidents happen because of 4 reasons: Over speeding, driving on the wrong way, Rushing, Not following traffic lights. Avoiding these would prevent such accidents. He also highlighted various initiatives that the Indore traffic police has undertaken to enhance road safety in Indore. Following him, CA Vinod Agarwal spoke on issues that ULBs faces whole collecting taxes. He said that many ULBs either don not have a proper tax collection system of the system they have is inefficient.
Mr. Pashim Tewari, Technical Director, AIILSG talking about congestion issues said that it is not only about private vehicles but all types of vehicles including commercial vehicles as logistics is an essential segment of a city’s functioning. He wraped up the session saying that better planning of roads can pose as a solution to many mobility related problems. Removing street vendors, prohibiting roadside parking, etc. are only temporary wayout.
Session 2 focused on sustainable development and environment. VK Madhavan, CEO, Wateraid India, chaired the session. Mrs. Janak Palta, Founder Director of Jimmy McGilligan Centre for Sustainable Development, focused her speech on smart development of Indore while keeping the city’s heritage alive. She talked on a paradigm shift that people need to adopt for making Indore ‘kachra-free’. Mrs. Palta also mentioned various street foods, and the culture of Indore which, she says, seems to be getting disturbed by growing urbanisation.
Mr. Bhalu Mondhe, talked on wildlife conservation and making a healthy natural ecosystem. He discussed the rejuvenation of Sirpur Lake. He showed a video on how efforts were made to rejuvenate the lake and turned it into a rich ecosystem catering various species of migratory birds, reptiles and plants. The lake is now a popular tourist destination in Indore.
Mr. Raghav Chandra, Former Principal Secretary, Urban Development and Housing, Government of Madhya Pradesh, brought into light the sudden boom in urban development sector after the launch of JnNURM scheme. On environmental issues he said, we should look forward to China’s sponge cities which stands as one of the best examples of rainwater harvesting and water preservation. “Indore should not rest in its waste management laurels. Continuous efforts are required to efficiently manage the growing city’s waste”, said Mr. Chandra.
The next speaker Mr. Suryanarayan Krishnan discussed on how Narmada is an essential water source for not just major cities of Madhya Pradesh but its water is also transported to cities in Gujarat to cater the growing demand. This raises questions for the rising demand of the urban population in both the states.