Surat, the commercial hub of Gujarat famous for its textile and diamond polishing industries, also known globally for been ranked as the fourth fastest developing city of the world in the year 2011, is brimming with hope of making the cut to the top 20 in the '100 Smart Cities' challenge.
The city has done exceedingly well on certain parameters set for the Smart City tag, but still lag behind on some of the most kep parameters. The need to correct this seems to be a top priority for the civic body now.
The Good and The Bad
Talking about getting thing right – at present out of 21 parameters that would make city - a smart city - Surat has done well in terms of e-governance and citizen services, water and energy efficiency.
Milind Torwane, Municipal Commissioner of Surat, was quoted by Times of India news report as saying that they cover up to 91 per cent in terms of population in providing sewerage system, and almost 94 per cent of the city population is covered under its water supply system.
However, the commissioner admits that they still need to do many things when it comes to quality.
Further, segments like urban transportation, tele-medicine, skill development centers and even waste management are some of the key areas were the city lags.
On an average a person takes an hour to enter the fourth fasted developed city in the world, this is primarily due to lack of mass transport services and high population – its the eight most populated city in India.
The report stated that there are merely 100 buses available for mass transportation to cater to the need of nearly 5 million people.
The Surat Municipal Corporation has decided to adopt different strategies for different city areas in order to prepare effective a smart city plan and get a place among top 20 cities in the '100 Smart Cities' challenge.
The Centre has set four different methods for developing a smart city - Retrofitting, re-development, green field development and Pan City initiative. As per the mission guidelines, a Smart city proposal should include at least one of the above mentioned method.
Surat plans to include all the above methods with area specific approach.
We could adopt the re-development strategy for high density old urban area like Old city area of Sonifaliya, Raj Marg, Bhagal and Chowk – similar to the Mumbai's Bhendi bazaar plan. And Green field development approach to new Dream city like projects could be adopted, in lines with what is done in Lake City project of Kolkata, SMC engineer Jatin Shah, was quoted as saying to the Times of India newspaper.
To solve the entry-exit problem in the Surat city, the city's mayor Niranjanbhai Zanzmera says, “We need an express highway that will give direct access to people from NH8 to the Surat city and take them directly to airport, railway station and other important destinations."