Chandigarh: tech-enabled, smart and liveable

Chandigarh, last month, was included in the fast track list of 13 towns that will be developed as smart cities. Estimated to cost around Rs 6,200 crore, the smart city mission aims to substantially improve “livability and sustainability of the city. Public IT (information technology) solutions are a major part of the mission,” says Baldeo Purushartha, municipal commissioner, Chandigarh municipal corporation and CEO (chief executive officer) of Chandigarh Smart City Ltd.

Chandigarh Smart City

The mission focuses on Area-based Development (ABD) and pan-city development plan. “Included in the area-based proposal, sectors 17, 22, 35 and 43 will be developed as smart sectors. Pan-city proposal aims at improving public life and safety, livability, smart and integrated e-governance,” says Purushartha.

Vehicle-free zones will be created in the internal areas of Sector 17. Residents can expect round-the-clock drinking water supply, tertiary water supply, smart metering for power, water consumers; unified portal to access services with a personalised profile-based mobile app which will act as one-stop app and gateway to enable two-way citizen engagement. Jan Marg, one of the central lifelines of the city, will be pedestrianised on weekends – art fairs, yoga sessions, sports and street shows will be organised here and food stalls set up.

Proper signage, way-finding, public bike sharing, smart signalling and traffic surveillance systems will be set up. There will be ITS application in public transport, including smart ticketing, vehicle tracking and passenger information system; smart on-street parking, sidewalk improvements – accessible sidewalks for differently abled and comprehensive bicycle network, etc.

“The plan also includes intelligent multi-nodal command and control centre to control water, police, fire systems, health, disaster management and traffic; more e-rickshaws replacing older diesel/petrol rickshaws, electric buses and battery-operated buses, urban design of public plazas, space for active recreation for arts, culture, bazaars and food courts; installation of solar-based LED streetlights along with installation of new light poles along streets and public parks; and solar power plants on rooftops,” says Purushartha.

Both ABD and pan-city development projects are to be completed within a period of two years, informs Purushartha.

Plan cost and funding

The total cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs 6,200 crore with Rs 250 crore for the pan city proposal and Rs 5,950 crore for area-based development.

“Funds for the smart city will be made available from the convergence of other Central schemes while some of the projects will be funded through the private sector. The funding and implementation process will depend on the individual project; different financial and implementation structures and instruments will be employed based on the needs of specific projects under the plan. Joint venture (JV), public-private partnership (PPP), private funding, and government sponsorship will all be employed as per the project requirement,” says Purushartha.

Basic framework for SPV constituted

Parimal Rai, UT adviser, is the chairman of the SPV (Chandigarh Smart City Ltd), a limited company. Purushartha, municipal commissioner, is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the SPV. Total equity of Rs 1,000 crore will be invested by municipal corporation and administration. The appointments are to be cleared by the ministry of urban development (MoUD).

Missing elements

In the city nearly 50% of the population lives in rented accommodation, and affordable house ownership is a perennial issue. The MoUD also lists “Housing and inclusiveness - expand housing opportunities for all” as a smart city feature. However, no plans have been made for Chandigarh Smart City Plan does not include the plan for increased housing opportunities, particularly for the poor. “No, housing isn’t included in the ADP or pan-city development plan,” says Purushartha.

More bureaucracy, less people

Centralisation of the city’s development initiative with the SPV might push the local citizens and their elected representatives to be decision makers, while bringing in the bureaucracy, particularly the IAS officers, at the core of all decision making.

Allaying fears of the SPV becoming a new apex body superior to other city departments, Purushartha says, “It will streamline the planning and implementation process. The SPV is a facilitator. Participation and role of other departments will not be diminished.”

Claiming that the SPV and smart city mission will improve the planning and implementation at the city level, architect Surinder Bahga, nominated municipal councilor and chairman Saakaar Foundation, says, “Smart city mission will drastically improve the coordination at the city level.”

Source:Hindustan Times

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