CHANDIGARH—While the Chandigarh Administration moves fast on the issue of making Chandigarh a smart city, just take a look at the existing infrastructure to know how well it serves the populace in terms of civic amenities and regional connectivity. There also seems to be increasing concerns over the issue. Before getting down to city specific criticism, let us get views on the issue. Hence, Y.S. Rana interviewed Ms Sumit Kaur, who has been chief architect of Chandigarh for many years
Question—What are the challenges before Chandigarh to be a smart city?
Sumit Kaur—Sixty plus Chandigarh offers high quality of life to its residents. The city’s Master Plan offers a strong base of ‘smart components’ which have been further strengthened by some smart initiatives. Smart city should well serve the populace in terms of civic amenities and regional connectivity. With inception of smart city, Chandigarh will have to face shortage land to accommodate the burgeoning population. Besides, shortage of water, power, health services, education, transportation and most of them security would be the main challenge. Chandigarh has to prepared itself to meet the challenges simultaneously.
Question:–What do you think about the concept?
Sumit Kaur–The concept is not new and generally springs up images of a highly networked city with sensors, intelligent Information and Communication Technology (ICT )devices enabling efficient address and delivery of the city’s core infrastructure.
“Smart City” is the way forward towards holistic sustainable urban development and integrates interdisciplinary disciplines of urban planning, urban design, ecology and environment, social sciences, economics. use of best practices and technology to enable ‘Efficient’, ‘Livable’,’Lovable’,’Inclusive’,
Question:–How can a smart city be planned and governed?
Sumit Kaur–Though urban and regional planning is a State subject, however to ensure organized, balanced and equitable growth of the city, There is need for a thorough Country Level Assessment of existing and proposed urban and rural sectors. A Smart Rural Mission should thus also be initiated to strengthen rural areas by providing ‘Smart City’ could be one with technology based governance that enables efficient public services and has 24 x 7 water and power supply, 100% sewerage, drainage and solid waste management facilities besides top class infrastructure of international standards.
The process requires detailed surveys, site visits and SWOT Analysis .Public participation and consultations with policy makers, to formulate SMART City Vision and SMART City Plan to evolve out of its specific local context.
While there have been positive initiatives by various departments, the recently notified Chandigarh Master Plan 2031 provides an overarching holistic vision for sustainable development of the city which shall help fast pace it towards Smart City. Some of the recommendations which combined with Information Technology and adoption of Best Practices aim towards Smart City are
Question:–What role do private, business houses can play in realization of smart city?
Sumit Kaur—Consultants, urbam planners, business houses and developers should encourage and engage to give inputs and new proposals. Online interactive City Centric Services, Smart Tourism, digitization of records of departments, setting up facilitation centre to motivate and assist residents in installing solar panels on residential buildings and digitization of the physical infrastructure are some of the major ingredients of a smart city.
Question:–How should be the policy makers approach planning?
Sumit Kaur—Smart city requires smart planning. Chandigarh, is thus positioned as a forerunner in the ‘Challenge’ for 100 Smart City Mission and the ‘First Large Experiment in Urban Planning’ can earn the epithet of ‘Lighthouse Smart City’.
The underlying concepts of the Smart City requires from policy makers to improve quality of life and ensure prosperity of all its residents. Citizen Participation in formulating the Smart City Vision and Smart City Plan shall assist the policy makers to provide a smart city.