How to fund your smart city plans: Launch 'quick-win projects' (Pune is launching 15 of them)

Mon, 2016-05-30 17:32 -- SCC India Staff


Pune Smart City

With the formation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV), Pune has kick-started its Smart City project on various fronts. At present, the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd (PSCDCL) is right on target to solve two of Pune’s critical issues — mobility and water management. Here, the SPV has swiftly bifurcated its two focused areas into 15 modules. Looking at the way Pune is going ahead with its Smart City implementation plan, the same can be a learning lesson not only for the recent winners of the Smart City competition, but also for the existing ones who are currently executing their plans.

Touted to be a “Thin Company”, by forming a SPV with just nine members, the SPV’s parent member — Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) — has done what other city corporations couldn’t. The streamlined SPV will help the entity to take swift and timely decisions. PMC is also taking steps to streamline its regular revenue streams.

To boost its revenue from property tax, PMC has started door-to-door assessment review and mapping of properties with the help of Geographical Information System (GIS) technology. PMC has already started mapping inaccessible properties in the city. The mapping includes verifying existing size of properties, mentioning details of the property owner (name, mobile, e-mail address) and the longitude and altitude, along with gathering photographs and related information.

PMC claims that illegal constructions in the city are not only a threat to security, but also put pressure on civic infrastructure. The corporation charges tax on both commercial and residential properties. However, there are several residential properties in the city being used for commercial purposes, and the owners end up paying the residential tax instead. Thus, to avoid such situations in the future, GIS technology will be used.

With the help of this project, PMC expects a 20 per cent hike in revenue collection. GIS mapping will also tag encroachments on public, government and private land. Officials can also keep a watch on the status of amenity spaces.

What’s more, the city corporation has also started a GIS-enabled census to effectively map and enumerate Pune’s trees. The census data will be available to citizens at the click of a mouse. Plus, in an effort to create more realistic Ready Reckoner rates, the Inspectorate General of Registration and Stamps (IGR) is linking sale data with GIS maps to impart a more scientific and rational approach to the project.

The SPV’s unique approach
The newly formed SPV is targeting 15 ‘quick-win projects’ which are under the bidding and designing phase. These projects have been divided into eight focus areas for Area Development, and the balance seven for Pan-City Development.

In Pune, lack of public transport along with an un-stemmed rise of private vehicles has resulted in massive congestions and very low average speeds (18 km/h against the norm of 30 km/h). The SPV plans to attack the problem on two fronts. Firstly, it will strengthen infrastructural gaps through long- and medium-term interventions (bicycle sharing, road redesign, completion of BRT) and secondly, it will ensure higher utilisation of existing infrastructure through ICT solutions.

The gamut of such solutions includes adaptive traffic control (which aims to increase average speed by 10-15 per cent) and ITMS solutions for public transport, to increase ridership by improving quality of service through improved dissemination of information and management.

For smart mobility, the SPV has formulated four projects. These projects include redesigning of streets (on a pilot basis), footpath retrofitting, place-making on roads and junction redesigning (on a pilot basis). On the ICT front, projects such as installation of GPS and real-time tracking of buses through mobile apps in existing buses, vehicle health monitoring, intelligent road asset management, traffic maps using mobile GPS and e-challans will be part of the smart mobility management initiative.

Another issue the city suffers from is inequitable distribution of water. Despite sufficient water at the aggregate level and an average per capita water supply that is 1.5 times the benchmark (with other major Indian cities), 14 per cent of Pune’s citizens still struggle to get an access to the benchmark 150 LPCD levels.

The next milestone is to ensure 24x7 water supplies to 100 per cent of citizens (with all of them having access to 150 LPCD of water). This will involve initiatives to reduce leakages and improve water metering. Major components of the Smart City solution suite which have been outlined to achieve this mission include smart bulk metering at 8 WTPs across 161 elevated reservoirs and 328 DMAs with SCADA, helium-like identification system, 100 per cent smart metering for commercial sections. A Web, app and call-centre based grievance redressal system will also be in place, along with a separate ICT-enabled billing and recovery department.

Another interesting project of the Pune SPV, which is under designing, is public bicycle sharing (PBS). The city plans to implement a PBS system across an area of 16.3 sq km, spread across Aundh-Baner-Balewadi (ABB). The system will comprise 1,232 custom-built cycles across a network of 112 cycle-stations, equipped with a fully automated cycle-docking technology with smart card payment facility.

PBS aims to leverage the favourable topography, climate and demographics of Pune and thereby increase the share of cycle trips in the city, so as to attain an NMT trip share of 40-45 per cent.

Meanwhile, the PBS system can also be a learning lesson for other cities when it comes to integration. The Pune SPV is planning to integrate its 100 e-rickshaws with PBS which will also boost bicycle sharing and walkability by ensuring last-mile connectivity.

SPV Members:
1. Dr Nitin Karrer – Chairman, PSCDCL
2. Prashant S Jagtap, Director-PSCDCL and Mayor, Pune Municipal Corporation
3. Sethuraman Chockalingam, IAS, Director-PSCDCL & Divisional Commissioner, Pune
4. Balasaheb Bodke, Director-PSCDCL and Chairman, Standing Committee, PMC
5. Kemse Shankar Dattatray, Director-PSCDCL and Leader of House, PMC
6. Arvind Shinde, Director-PSCDCL and Leader of Opposition, PMC
7. Rashmi Shukla, IPS, Director-PSCDCL and Commissioner of Police, Pune City
8. Prerna Deshbhratar, IAS, CEO-PSCDCL and Additional Municipal Commissioner (Spl), PMC
9. Praksh Bhutke, Director-PSCDCL and Joint Director, Town Planning, Pune