Better Governance: Initiatives for improving core infrastructure services in Pune

Initiatives for improving core infrastructure services in Pune

The expansion of urban infrastructure is common in metropolitan cities. Pune city has also been undergoing rapid urbanisation. This has resulted in additional burden on the existing civic infrastructure, resulting in transportation and mobility, water and sanitation, parking and security issues. In view of these challenges, the central government approved the development of the Pune smart city under Round I of the Smart Cities Mission (SCM). Under the mission, the government aims to implement smart solutions across the city to bring in efficiency in the delivery of core infrastructure services. Smart Utilities provides a snapshot of the various initiatives taken in Pune under the SCM…

Key initiatives

Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL) has been taking several initiatives to facilitate the development of a smart city. Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited, with support from PSCDCL, has initiated the procurement of 125 air-conditioned and environment-friendly electric buses with an intelligent traffic management system (ITMS). Since February 2019, 25 such buses have been deployed. Besides, special charging stations have been set up in the city. The ITMS has facilitated online tracking and digital travel scheduling for public transport vehicles.

Through its place-making projects, Pune plans to transform vacant plots in the city into vibrant urban neighbourhood spaces with themes ranging from e-learning and skill development to leisure and meditation. The infrastructure for such projects is proposed to be built with recycled materials. Two such projects have already been implemented while about 20 projects are under construction. Apart from this, a bicycle sharing initiative has been introduced in specific parts of the city as a pilot project in collaboration with bicycle sharing companies offering the latest technologies.

The Pune Idea Factory Foundation has been set up as a subsidiary of PSCDCL to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship in the city. Under the smart city plan, the street light initiative incorporates energy efficient technologies and designs to cut down street lighting energy costs by up to 60 per cent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The smart lighting LED retrofitting project is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership (PPP) project in the city. In addition, a number of smart clinic and smart school initiatives have been undertaken in the city under the SCM.

PSCDCL has also undertaken smart mechanised street sweeping and mechanical segregation of the solid waste generated in the city. A mechanical segregation plant has been successfully established to convert mixed and dry waste into reusable products such as refuse-derived fuel and compost. In terms of digital initiatives, PMC Care has been launched as an online platform to provide effective grievance redressal and enable a digitalised services and payment platform for citizens. The various services offered by PMC Care include payment of property tax and water bills online; a portal for birth and death records; provision of zone certificates; and access to PMC services at doorstep. It also provides emergency services (fire station, police station, ambulance, etc.). Further, PMC Care 2.0 has been proposed to provide citizens single-window access to all the services offered by the corporation with the help of its “collaboration” features.

In December 2019, The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) awarded an ICT-based project worth Rs 5 billion to Tech Mahindra Limited. This is one of the largest smart city projects. Tech Mahindra will provide a robust, reliable and sustainable ICT infrastructure, comprising smart technological solutions including city network, smart water, smart sewerage, smart traffic, smart parking, smart environment, CCTV surveillance, an integrated control and command centre (ICCC), data centres, disaster recovery centres, etc. In addition, Tech Mahindra will help in enabling real-time data management, alerts and information processing to support the city administration. Under the project, Tech Mahindra will engage with more than 1.5 million citizens of PCMC, enabling technology-led transformation to convert Pune into a smart and sustainable city. Meanwhile, this is the sixth smart city project that Tech Mahindra will be working on. The company is working on similar projects in Kanpur, Nashik, Jaipur, Jabalpur and Gandhinagar. Some of these projects are expected to be competed in the coming months.

Overall project progress

A total of 59 projects worth Rs 47.66 Billion have been identified for implementation under the Pune smart city. Of these, 11 projects worth Rs 2.34 billion have been completed. One of the key projects is the integrated transport management system deployed on the existing bus rapid transit (BRT) system. The project involved the installation of automated vehicle location systems and passenger information systems on buses. Besides the completed projects, 19 projects worth Rs 16.23 billion are under implementation. These include expansion of the BRT system, installation of ICT-based solutions, provision of round-the-clock water supply, laying of an optic fibre network, and development of affordable housing projects. In addition, nine projects worth Rs 24.28 billion are currently at the tendering stage. These include a smart parking project and a pilot secondary/tertiary treatment plant to be developed in PPP mode for the reuse of waste by-products released from the Baner sewage treatment plant. Further, detailed project reports for 14 projects have been prepared. These projects, estimated to entail an investment of Rs 4.19 billion, can be developed either on a PPP or an engineering, procurement and construction basis, or under government schemes.

The way forward

Under the SCM, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is not only implementing projects, but is also working to create a new urban ecosystem, a marked shift from the way urban development was conceived earlier. The ministry is making efforts to switch from the archaic project-based approach to a more integrated approach in order to make cities habitable and improve the quality of life.

The government has launched several new initiatives to ensure integrated urban development and take the mission to new heights. The key ones are the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework 2019, DataSmart Cities, the India Urban Observatory and Video Wall, National Urban Innovation Stack, City Investments to Innovate, Integrate and Sustain Challenge, a consultation paper on the City GDP Measurement Framework, etc. Besides, a number of areas have been identified for which the ministry requires inputs from industry stakeholders. Some of the key areas are ICCCs, urban mobility, smart education and health, energy efficiency, emergency response, water quality sensors, and incubation centres.

Given the scope of the mission and the government’s focus on making cities smart, the mission is expected to go a long way in developing core infrastructure services in India’s urban centres.