- Ashutosh AT Pednekar, Commissioner, Jaipur Municipal Corporation
Stunning palaces, forts and architectural monuments clearly define India’s Pink City, Jaipur. And this culturally rich city and popular tourist destination is now going smart after having made it to the list of India’s 100 smart cities. Moreover, the city is all geared to organise the sustainable smart cities event, Municipalika, this month. Here, Jaipur Nagar Nigam or Jaipur Municipal Corporation has a crucial role to play. What’s more, the recently held Resurgent Rajasthan Summit shone the spotlight on proposed projects worth Rs 330,000 crore with the potential to generate 2.5 lakh jobs. And certainly, Jaipur will have much to contribute to the state of Rajasthan in this direction. , shares his smart plans and smart direction for the city in conversation with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.
What specific areas has the corporation started working on to make the city smart?
As far as pan-city is concerned, inter-model transport is important for us, though it is yet to be finalised. We have considered the old city of Jaipur for retrofitting, for which heritage will be our primary focus along with pedestrianisation and other facilities like solid waste management. We are also considering a greenfield project based on modern and green areas; the exact plan is yet to be worked on.
How do you plan to utilise the city’s strengths to make it smart?
We have been focusing on retrofitting; for this, heritage will be an important element. Also, we have the walled city, one of the first planned cities of India, for which we have a good template to work on to make it even better. Also, in terms of transportation, we have a metro, a bus rapid transit system (BRTS) and personal rapid transport system (PRTS) along with the other available modes of transport. But these three modes of transport are rarely found together in one city. Considering that traffic congestion will be a bigger challenge in times to come, we need to create an infrastructure where citizens depend more on public transport than private. This will help the city.
Any big ticket ongoing projects the corporation is monitoring at the moment?
Housing projects are being planned; one major project is under the Awaas Yojana. The rapid transport system is being implemented in a big way and will be based on the Swiss challenge. Also, for solid waste management, we have a major contract for waste-to-energy as well as door-to-door collection. We are also planning to focus on managing construction and debris (C&D) waste, for which a detailed project report has been prepared. There are about 150-200 metric tonne of C&D waste generated in the city every day and are looking for any private player to convert it into a useful product. So we are going to float a tender for this, which will be coming in shortly.
At present, what are the corporation’s plans towards energy conservation?
Apart from the waste-to-energy initiative I mentioned, for energy-efficiency, LED is one of the biggest projects that is going on in the city, wherein we are installing about 2.5 lakh LED lights. This will lead to over 75 per cent energy savings; basically, the project pays for itself. We are going to go completely LED as far as the city is concerned.
With the city’s increasing population, which is likely to be 10 million by 2025, and the government’s mission of Housing for All by 2022, how do you see Jaipur’s contribution?
Undoubtedly, the city is growing rapidly and Housing for All is going to be an important thing. So are working on 3,000 plus units and there are other projects coming up as well. This is going to be an important target for us.
How has the city’s smart vision affected existing ongoing projects? Are any plans being revised?
Yes. The good thing is that we are working on bringing in a lot of integration. For example, we have a vehicle tracking system, which is a smart solution. When it is integrated with other things such as waste-to-energy and door-to-door collection, it becomes smarter. Also, in the case of city surveillance, we are putting up about 60 cameras in the walled city. This solution can be integrated with other things to make it smarter.
What tenders can stakeholders look forward to in the near future?
Door-to-door collection, waste-to-energy, managing construction and demolition waste, the upcoming slaughterhouse, smart parking, a personal rapid transport system, Housing for All and Swacchh Bharat... these are all areas where we are planning projects and will float tenders in times to come. We are investing in these areas and have identified several greenfield projects and will be developing services and infrastructure in those areas.
The Agra-Jaipur expressway is currently being planned. On completion, how will it benefit the city?
Any connectivity is helpful. But the corporation is more concerned with inter-city connectivity. For instance, in our smart city project, pedestrianisation is taken up in a big way. We consider this as an important step for the walled city – to have a pedestrian-friendly walk.
How do you see Jaipur contributing to the growth of Rajasthan?
Jaipur is the biggest engine of growth for the entire state. In certain cases, it actually stands out as a model. For example, the vehicle tracking system could be a model for all. So Jaipur is a city where one can implement new ideas and technologies and disseminate them elsewhere. This is one of the fastest growing cities in India and this by itself makes it an important asset for the state.
What are the challenges faced by the corporation and how do you work towards the same?
Departments work independently within the corporation and our challenge is to bring all the departments together on one single platform instead of working in compartments. We are working towards this and this is where the smart city solution is helping us.
What is the annual budget for the city?
We have budgeted Rs 1,200 crore annually and this is set to increase with the new smart city focus. Much of the budget comes from the state government, but we are now trying to diversify and increase our collection from urban tax revenue. So this is our focus and every year it has been doubling. This year, we hope for it to quadruple. Jaipur is a tourism-focussed city, and revenue generation will be an important part followed by monetisation of projects. We are looking at greenfield projects as part of the smart city plan and how they can be monetised and made economically sustainable.
With regard to the government’s smart cities initiative, by when do you expect to see actual action on the ground?
We are already planning for it. Work has started and the outlook has changed. Now, we know that smart is the way forward; we have to start integrating right now. That has already started, and so there is a perceptible change in outlook.
What is the ultimate vision for the city?
Jaipur is a smart and modern city and reflects heritage in a big way. The vision is to create a city that engages with citizens, because they have a key role to play in making Jaipur smart. A lot is being initiated for citizen engagement. We put up sms polls, and have our own website called ‘jaipursmartcitychallenge.com’ where we invite responses from the people. We have literally given out about 40,000 questionnaires among citizens. So engagement has been done in a big way and we are experiencing a good response from citizens as well. Citizen engagement is something we would like to stand out for and the process has already started by the sanitation campaign we have initiated called ‘Jaipur Unites’.
Source: Construction World Magazine