The Smart Cities Mission (SCM) has been at the centre of the government’s urban rejuvenation agenda. However, the progress so far has been patchy. At a recent conference organised by India Infrastructure on Smart Cities in India, key cities showcased their achievements, noteworthy projects and highlighted significant initiatives taken so far. A summary of the progress made across these smart cities…
Bhopal was one of the first 20 cities selected under the mission to be developed as smart cities. The Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) carried out the task by focusing on water and electricity supply, solid waste management, public transport, affordable housing and green township, digitalisation, efficient governance, citizen participation, sustainability, safety, health and education. Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Limited (BSCDCL), the government entity set up for implementing the smart city project, has been working on the concept of area-based development (ABD) that involves the development of smart infrastructure on about 350 acres of government land.
The State government plans to monetise about 100 acres of the developed area to generate revenue for the Bhopal smart city’s future plans. It has developed a smart incubation centre in the city for the promotion of start-ups and entrepreneurs. An automated supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for monitoring water treatment plants and overhead tanks has been implemented as part of the project to ensure optimal utilisation of water resources. Besides, road sweeping machines and about 350 vehicles have been deployed in the city for door-to-door waste collection and segregation. The government has also set up a biogas plant to generate power from the biodegradable waste collected at fruit and vegetable markets.
BSCDCL has set up an integrated control and command centre (ICCC) that integrates more than 15 services across the city. A digital door numbering project is also being implemented on a pilot basis for the effective provision of door-to-door services and property tax collection. A public-private partnership (PPP) project – Smart Pole and Intelligent Street Lighting – is being implemented by BSCDCL in collaboration with Bharti Infratel Limited, Ericsson and HPL Electric and Power Limited, entailing the setting up of about 150 smart poles with surveillance cameras and Wi-Fi hotspots, over 20,000 street lights, electric vehicle charging points and environmental sensors. Public bike sharing is another PPP project that has been implemented, entailing the setting up of about 100 stations with about 500 bicycles, to encourage green transportation in the city. An intelligent traffic management system (ITMS) has been deployed for digitalising traffic monitoring. Bhopal has taken various initiatives towards placemaking and smart schooling, heritage development and for solar lighting. The government has launched the Bhopal Plus App to provide an integrated service platform for online payment and booking; a bus route planner; the call administration, vehicle search and emergency services, as well as other services of the BMC.
The New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) is also among the first 20 cities selected under the SCM. The smart city work commenced in 2016 and, so far, the NDMC has completed about 66 per cent of it. Progress has been made in areas such as placemaking, green initiatives, smart classes and the development of an ICCC. All smart cities have a city redressal forum where government officials are invited to speak about their needs and make recommendations. Despite this, public participation in the SCM has not picked up significantly and continues to be so. Sustainability poses a key challenge for any smart city. Seeking to resolve this issue, the NDMC has been encouraging private sector participation in the form of PPPs for implementing smart city projects. Besides, the corporation has been focusing on waste management through automated garbage collection methods, the deployment of new vehicles and the incorporation of global best practices. The NDMC’s key focus areas for the next few years include urban mobility and pollution check.
The Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) has been taking numerous initiatives to ensure effective implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the city. It has signed an MoU with the United Nations Global Compact (a non-binding pact to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation), for drafting a framework for the implementation of SDGs in the city.
The initiatives primarily focus on poverty alleviation, quality education and well-being, the reduction of inequalities, water sanitation, affordable and clean energy, industry innovation and sustainability, etc. The city municipality has introduced a “happiness index budget” in an effort to connect the government’s budget with the happiness quotient of citizens. The TMC has linked its budget with SDGs to ensure that the initiatives taken so far are in line with them. The corporation has been encouraging private sector participation in the city’s urban infrastructure projects and PPPs are likely to be explored in the areas of cluster housing and solid waste management. The private sector has been actively involved in waste collection, segregation and transportation, as well as in waste processing and road sweeping activities. Improvements in the regulatory framework are further expected to attract private sector participation in various other projects being implemented in the city. Going forward, the corporation will focus on the development of housing infrastructure, introduction of 5G to improve connectivity, bringing about improvements in e-governance and deployment of drone technologies to improve surveillance in the city. There is immense scope for the integration of advanced technologies to revolutionise management and governance at the city level.
Ranchi was selected as one of the 13 fast-track cities in 2016. Ranchi Smart City Corporation Limited (RSCCL), established in September 2016, is being assisted by a consortium of Tractebel Engineering and KPMG. Under the SCM, Ranchi is being envisioned as a formal and informal education hub with an IT-equipped traffic and transportation management system. Ranchi follows the ABD Master Plan that was approved by the state cabinet in 2017. Within a period of two years from the setting up of RSCCL, a number of projects have been completed, facilitating the implementation of the ABD Master Plan on the ground. Noteworthy developments have been made in the areas ranging from land development and transportation to water supply, waste management, power distribution and social infrastructure. Of the Rs 10 billion fund provided under the SCM, the tendering process has been completed for about Rs 8.9 billion. Apart from this, technology is being harnessed in various ways to enable all city services to work seamlessly within a given institutional hierarchy, involving all tiers of the government. To ensure mobility for all, issues such as the lack of parking facilities and a proper street policy, and limited stakeholder engagement are being addressed. Systemic and reliable real-time data is being used for monitoring and evaluation as well as for spatial and micro-resource planning. Regular site visits by PMC officials are being made to monitor the progress of work in all the 36 projects under the SCM. The state government is implementing a public bicycle sharing system to ensure last-mile connectivity in the city and reduce carbon footprint. An ICCC has been established that uses a data analytics-based approach towards policy formulation and implementation. Other smart initiatives taken by RSCCL include the deployment of an ITMS, a smart parking management system, surveillance systems, variable message and public announcement systems, emergency response systems, environmental monitoring systems and Wi-Fi hotspots. Some of the key issues being faced by RSCCL during project implementation pertain to financing, getting approvals and clearances, ensuring coordination among multiple stakeholders, retrofitting of existing infrastructure, and availability of human resources and utility services. n
Based on presentations/remarks by Deepak Singh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), BSCDCL (via audio); Nidhi Srivastava, CEO, NDMC Smart City; Sameer Unhale, CEO, Thane Smart City (via audio); and Rakesh Kumar Nandkeolyar, General Manager, RSCCL (via audio), at a recent India Infrastructure conference.