ALL EYES ON BHUBANESWAR OF FUTURE
By Ashok B Sharma
The mantra of maintaining equidistance from the Congress and the BJP has played well for the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. He gets a certification of appreciation from the NDA government at the Centre for urban development. Another feather is on his cap as Bhubaneswar becomes the number one choice for development of Smart City under an ambitious flagship programme mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
The central government is slated to release appropriate funds for development of Bhubaneswar from the upcoming Budget which will be operationalized from April 1 – the day celebrated as Odisha Dibas in remembrance of the formation as a separate state in 1936.
Other major urban infrastructure developments on the anvil are the development of Paradeep as a port city and upgradation of Bhubaneswar Railway Station to world class level.
Bhubaneswar has won in a rigorous competition for selection of the first batch of 20 cities in the country to be developed as smart cities. According to the Union minister of Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu, the Smart City Challenge required cities to come up with integrated plans, proposals to be taken up for an in-depth analysis by a team of experts for future planning an execution. Smart City plans will show how integrated planning and smart technologies can deliver better quality of life with 24×7 power and water supply, improved waste management, reduced pollution level and traffic congestion, meeting basic needs like health and education and hassle-free cashless transaction.
Venkaiah Naidu claims that the selection process was “as rigorous and demanding as the civil services competition conducted by UPSC,” in which Bhubaneswar ranked one. Twenty cities were selected for development as smart cities out of a list of 97.
The selection process involved a bottom-up approach with the involvement of citizens in formulation of city vision and smart city plans and the urban local bodies and state governments piloting the missions with little say for the Union urban development ministry. The plan proposal, drafted through citizens’ participation, was given a weightage of 16 per cent. A total of 1.52 crore people from across 79 cities participated in proposal drafting process, said the Union Minister for Urban Development, M Venkaiah Naidu.
It is envisaged to retrofit and redevelop 985-acre centered around main Railway Station in the heart of Bhubaneswar city. It involves a total project cost of Rs 4,537 crore, including Rs 4,095 crore for area based development like Bhubaneswar Town Centre District and Rs 442 crore for pan city solution – Intelligent City Operation and Management Centre. The proposal also envisages to leverage Rs 950 crore available under Smart City Mission to finance smart city plan through multiple streams of investments thereby reducing financial risks. Rs 525 crore will be mobilized by converging state schemes and national schemes like Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart City Mission, Swachh Bharat and Prime Minister’s Aawas Yojana.
The project will leverage public-private partnership for raising Rs 2,563 crore. Other means of financing will be adopted like debt financing, Public-Private Community Partnerships (PPCPs), City Level Infrastructure Development Fund and internal resources of urban local bodies. The project is for a period of five years.
Bhubaneswar’s state-of-the-art Intelligent City Operations and Management Centre (ICOMC) is at the crore of its pan-city proposal. This centre will provide digital platform for integrating multiple city sub-systems of traffic management, parking, bus/para-transit operations, common fare card, emergency response and city incident management alongwith seamless integration of Bhubaneswar Town Centre District (BTCD) utility operation requirements.
Integrated urban planning will address the issue of infrastructure, land use, transport, urban design and architecture in a holistic manner. Emphasis will be laid on sustainable urban development and city would aim to be water positive through water harvesting, recycling and reuse of water, energy positive with each household resorting to renewable source of energy and community positive facilitating interactive neighbourhoods. There will be extensive citizen engagements through various online and offline engagements.
The smart city will be a transit-oriented city with a compact urban form that promotes active, connected and sustainable mobility choices. It would be a livable city providing diverse range of housing, educational and recreational opportunities, while enhancing its heritage, arts and traditional communities. It will be a child-friendly city providing accessible, safe, inclusive and vibrant public places and a eco-city co-existing in harmony with nature for nurturing a resilient, clean, green and healthy environment. It is also proposed to be a regional economic centre attracting knowledge based enterprises and sustainable tourism activities by leveraging and empowering its institutions, local businesses and informal workforce.
Naveen has outlined the proposal, formulated by all stakeholders, for a Smart Bhubaneswar City project over a span of five years. It is to be seen how much successful he will be in mobilizing resources for the project and to complete it in slated time. It will much depend upon his cooperation with the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. Let’s wait to see a Bhubaneswar of the future. (IPA Service)