In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, the government of India is planning to build 100 smart cities which will be equipped with high-tech communication capabilities.
This project is being planned to help Indian cities adapt to the increasing urban population of India which is projected to reach an astounding 590 million by 2030 as per a study by McKinsey.
Although the government of India is yet to declare the exact specifics of such project –despite an official announcement of $1.2 billion investment in smart cities – the Odisha government has pushed its demand for including Bhubaneswar as a potential candidate for one of the 100 smart cities in India.
CM Naveen Patnaik recently said Bhubaneswar, due to its strategic importance in eastern India and ever-increasing size and population, deserves to be a smart city.
What is a Smart City?
Typically, smart cities will have geographical information system-based town planning, integrated waste management, and advanced transport system among many other features revolving around the information technology.
Countries like China have already built smart cities that have building with sensor monitoring water levels, energy usage, traffic flows, and security cameras. The data can be directly sent to the city administrators.
In smart cities, for examples, residents can navigate traffic, report potholes and trash collections using apps, meaning the urban management processes will be completely automated for hassle-free urban life.
In India, existing old cities such as Bhubaneswar can be retrofitted with smart city technologies although new cities could be built from the scratch.
Does Bhubaneswar Deserve to be a Smart City?
According to official statistics, the population of Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Urban Complex is estimated to touch 4.2 million by 2030.
Visualizing the potential problems of a growing urban population in this region, adequate infrastructural upgrades must be planned and implemented in order to deal with the obvious challenges of a bustling city.
Foreseeing such looming and complex urban development challenges, the state government recently took a major step in implementing the MRTS project in Bhubaneswar.
However, many experts view the Smart City as a misplaced priority in the present scenario where the social infrastructure is less than average for many city dwellers that are economically underprivileged.
Rehabilitating those city dwellers has been a monumental challenge for almost all urban development projects in Bhubaneswar so far.
CM Naveen Patnaik has also stressed on proper rehabilitation of slum dwellers if the city were to go in the direction of urban development. Creation of vending zones, for example, is a key step in rehabilitating the vendors
The city has been reeling under flood situations during rainy seasons for many years. Many high-traffic roads in the city still lack street lights while parking facilities have been reduced to jokes at many places.
These ongoing problems prove that the city planners hadn’t visualized the impending the challenges of a growing city when we had comparatively less traffic and fewer vehicles in the city.
While the temple city is reeling under these basic infrastructural challenges, it remains to be seen how the elected representatives vouch for inclusion of Bhubaneswar in Smart City project that is projected as a next big thing in India.
What is your take on this?