India bats for Smart Cities

Smart city’ is a buzzword of just six months old. Our Netas are inspired by smart cities and smart villages overtime bureaucrats are indulged in formulating guidelines for the same. In several occasions, we have learnt that Ministry Of Urban Development will release the draft on Smart Cities by this month end. Do you know Beijing invests several lakh crores for its smart city projects? But, the same concept of Smart City means something different to India. Govt. has allotted 7000 Crores for Smart Cities in its maiden budget.

All Indian cities/city capitals have two faces: One with urban infrastructure and the other, slums. Recent NSSO survey revealed that there are over 33,500 slums in India. Maharashtra tops the list followed by Andhra Pradesh. It is time now to restructure these slums rather than evacuating them. Nobody can deny that 24 hours power, safe drinking water, hygienic environment should add to proposed features. Sanitation is another obvious focus. Later focus is smart features like adaptive traffic monitoring systems, e-governance initiatives, e-access to education, healthcare, transportation, Wi-Fi hotspots, GPS and other satellite tracking systems etc.  With growing appetite for smart apps, Bengaluru Police has already installed Kiosk machines to file FIRs on the go and an app to locate the same.

Some key points that really matter to the Govt. Of India:

  • Co-ordination among various ministries and to streamline administration machinery in formulating the project.
  • This project is to be marketed as big-ticket initiative to promote “Make In India”.
  • Unskilled Labour employed in construction projects must be a part of restructured Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).
  • To realise the very big scope for Power Sector in India and to integrate it with Smart Cities.
  • Design and Develop cities so as to focus on long-term economic growth.
  • India has already partnered with USA in developing smart cities and is partnering with other nations too. Therefore, this project is sensitive in promoting diplomatic relations.
  • A smart system in place to make habitats safe and secure is a key consideration.
  • More flexible cities to always allow migrants to settle.
  • Cyber security to stabilise e-governance systems.
  • Recent floods in Jammu & Kashmir and the cyclone Hudhud proved that smart cities are nothing if they are not disaster proof.

 

One major hurdle faced by all nations to build smart cities in common is “Funding”. India must use the newly formed BRICS Bank to the fullest and promote investments in infra sector at a time industrial sentiments are on the rise.

It is with the people of India to watch keenness of our lawmakers in proving their mettle to overcome these hurdles.

As always discussion is welcome.

Solving the Swachh equation

The recent initiative “Swachh Bharat” is not more than a renewed sanitation mission to accomplish cleaner and better livelihood in the country. This time around, the mission with similar targets as before, has created buzz across the country and made people a part of it. With celebrities picking up brooms to clean roads, people are encouraged to contribute to the mission.

Deriving the ‘Clean’:

Cleaner India should not just be limited as an urban phenomenon but must include every village and slum. This five years’ 1800 crore mission will have two factors to take it to success. Firstly, the behavioural change and secondly, the Govt.’s role.

Let us now discuss each factor in specific:

  1. Behavioural Change: People are always fascinated to see foreign countries and spectacular New Delhi’s Rashtrapathi Bhavan to witness its clean and bright roads. I have a short case study here: When I was in Tiruchchirappalli (Tamil Nadu) railway station two days back, I felt really honoured to walk on clean platforms. I knew about the programme taken up by the station officials by reading newspapers and anyway I had to witness the same only 48 hours ago. Those platforms look like no commuter can ever get an intention to throw wastes. Soon after I boarded, I was embarrassed to see a man throwing his used tea cup on to the train track as I said he couldn’t throw it on platform. I was later realised to know that he really bothered walking up to the dustbin which was just 20m away. Therefore this mind-set needs change.
  2. Govt.’s role is also crucial in encouraging public. Beyond that, I feel some of the following measures to be taken up :
  • Govt. must also include rag pickers in this mission. Roadside rag pickers should get more awareness about their role.
  • Allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in promoting waste management through modern techniques.
  • This mission is incomplete if industrial wastes ignored. Relevant techniques should be installed to tackle it.
  • Support local technology that promotes cleanliness and eco-friendly atmosphere.
  • Include Cleanliness in the curriculum right from school education paving way for next generation behavioural change.

India has now realised the importance of sanitation and more importantly to make people participate.

Thank You.

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