Prime concern: How Chandigarh will change as a Smart City.
It’s arguably the most liveable city in the north of India, so why would Chandigarh want or need a major “Smart City” upgrade? Precisely for that reason — what it is will enable a less hassle-free shift to what it can be.
On paper, the Smart City concept resembles any election manifesto — state-of-the-art this and world-class that. The difference is that on the ground, a large part of what’s intended is doable in a city like Chandigarh. There is no absolute definition of a Smart City. It’s a process or a series of steps to make life simpler, more organised and comfortable. Extensive use of technology, while being friendly to the environment, is central to the idea.In practical terms, it means having a network of sensors, cameras, wireless devices and data centres all across the city. Sensors embedded in buildings and infrastructure networks that help incorporate renewable energy such as solar power, or save energy by turning streetlights on only when a road is in use. Smart water meters that identify a leak and fixing it quickly results in a drop in water usage, for example.Buses that send text messages to inform commuters of the time of arrival, mechanised garbage control, panic buttons for security all across the city, wireless communication between hospitals as soon as a patient is referred or shifted. These are ideas whose time has come. A Smart City is also required to issue all project clearances using online processes, ensure electronic delivery of all public services, and strive towards a knowledge-based workforce. India’s 31 per cent urban population contributes over 60 per cent of GDP. It is projected that urban India will contribute 75 per cent of the national GDP in 15 years.With an aim to change the urban way of life, the Centre has come up with basic parameters for each city bidding to qualify for being among the country’s100 Smart Cities and receive funds. Chandigarh just about makes it on most counts, which is also a window to how the city is falling behind and needs a serious upgrade. For instance, skilled human resource and infrastructure for schools and colleges is not just a smart idea, it’s a desirable idea. The announcement of the selected cities will be made on March 31 and whether Chandigarh makes it or not under the Centre’s plan, becoming a Smart City needs to be its set target. It’s an opportunity not to be missed to get things right.HEALTHCARE
- Chandigarh is the cradle of healthcare in the region, but lacks even basic infrastructure and manpower requirements for the city’s residents. Against a total requirement of 80 dispensaries for nearly 13 lakh residents, with each catering to 15,000 residents, the city has only 43.
- The UT Administration is working out a standard operating procedure for referral and back-referral of patients. Possible connectivities between the health centres are also being analysed to strengthen communication between hospitals, says UT Adviser Vijay Dev. He recently announced that patients will have the facility of checking the availability of doctors in OPDs and register online in advance instead of standing in queues before meeting doctors.
- The doctor-patient telemedicine facility will allow consultation for minor ailments over phone, decongesting OPDs in hospitals.
- Chandigarh’s colleges last year crossed the student enrolment figure set by the college population index according to which against one lakh students, one college is required.
- Out of seven government colleges, six have principals holding additional charge. Though well equipped, the laboratories need to be converted into virtual labs. The colleges have a shortage of hostel seats while students of Sector 42 and 46 colleges face a connectivity problem.
- Government College of Arts and Chandigarh Architecture College are without regular principals and after 2004, there’s been no regular faculty appointment.
- Panjab University has been bagging the top position in international platforms, but is struggling for funds for construction projects. It is yet to come up with smart classrooms and new hostels.
- Online admission form and fee submission, one-time registration for admission
- Recording of lectures available online
- Library equipped with computers to access lectures
- Smart classrooms in university
- Virtual laboratories in colleges and PU campus
- Foreign exchange programme for professional courses.
Chandigarh has 107 schools but these lack proper furniture, laboratories and space; there is a shortage of regular staff too, librarians have not been appointed by the Education Department, and neither do schools have regular counsellors. Toilets in some schools are without taps, playgrounds have restricted space with floodlight poles in the middle to check thefts, and sports is a neglected field. The student-teacher ratio is not being maintained as per the provisions of the RTE Act in a few schools and the students have not been issued health cards as required.
- Digitalised classrooms
- Recorded lectures available in library
- Online admission forms and fee
- Technology is much needed, but human resource and infrastructure is what Chandigarh schools require badly
One of the benchmarks for a Smart City is 24×7 supply, 100 per cent collection of water charges and availability of 135 litres per capita supply.Present status: Chandigarh gets water for 13-15 hours and there is no supply in the afternoon. The MC is yet to collect Rs 10 crore from defaulters. The plus point is that as against 135 litres per capita supply of water, the ratio in Chandigarh is 280 litres per capita.Availability: The city has access to 87 MGD of water, which includes 20 MGD from 200 tubewellsSMART UPGRADE
- Water will be available 24×7. MC has proposed a pilot project in Mauli Jagran
- Smart Pipes will be connected with a wireless processor to help detect leakage in real time, with a system of online monitoring of the entire distribution
- MC will be able to know water usage of every household with a single click.
SLUMS IN THE CITY
Chandigarh is already covered under the small flat rehabilitation scheme of 25,000 flats for slum dwellers. Ultimately, all the slums are being removed in phases. A final master plan to regulate the vertical growth is pending with the Union Ministry of Urban Development. In the master plan, no additional height in the north of chandigarh has been recommended but in southern sectors, like 47 to 56, there is a recommendation for allowing mix land use.SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT
- Chandigarh MC spends crores on purchase of garbage-lifting vehicles, bins and rehris, but has failed to put in place the process for collection and segregation of garbage at household level and at Sehaj Safai Kendras. So, garbage which can be recycled is being dumped at open spaces.
- Bio-medical waste management is also not effective in city.
- Chandigarh generates 370 tonnes of waste daily; 270 tonnes goes to garbage processing plant in Dadumajra and 100 tonnes to the dumping ground in Dadu Majra.
- MC has 53-dumper placers to lift garbage from 550 garbage bins in the city, but garbage is lifted from most bins on alternate days. On a daily basis, MC lifts garbage from 190 bins. In some sectors, it empties bins once in three days, once a week and even once in 15 days.
- There are 36 Sehaj Safai Kendras in the city.
- MC has 4,000 staff to clean the city, 1,200 of whom are regular.
MC’s FAILED PROJECTS
- Coloured bins: These were to be installed in vegetable and meat markets for segregation of garbage, but project did not get much response.
- Door-to-door collection of segregated garbage: Project was launched in 2001. NGOs and residents’ welfare associations were involved, but did not take off.
- Sehaj Safai Kendras: MC started project in 2002 and proposed setting up of 132 such centres. The proposal involved segregation of garbage collected from houses at the centres, where coloured bins were to be installed. No such provision has been made at these centres.
- A pilot MC project for collection of garbage in Sector 22 last year failed soon after its launch. Project was scrapped after protests by sanitation workers.
- Three mechanised sweeping machines bought for Rs 5 crore failed to produce good results.
- MC will install GPRS to track garbage-lifting vehicles. MC did start a project wherein employees were to send an SMS after lifting garbage, but it failed.
- MC keen on 3 biogas plants; will get segregated waste from hotels, bio-degradable waste from vegetable markets.
- Proper segregation of waste at the source.
- 100 per cent door-to-door collection of garbage.
Traffic congestion is a result of insufficient capacity of roads, unrestrained demand, or long delays at light-points. In Chandigarh, it’s more because of the number of vehicles — 9.75 lakh, while 2 lakh vehicles use city roads daily from the periphery.SMART UPGRADE
- Traffic lights working on basis of vehicle density. Traffic control room gathers real-time data from roads and manages lights based on the traffic volume.
- Control room issues alerts to motorists to take diversions.
- Video monitoring and surveillance systems to be used for traffic management.
- Chandigarh offers only a local bus service. After much delay, 170 midi buses are being added to the fleet of 100 low-floor buses with Chandigarh Transport Undertaking. The city needs 400 buses. At present, the bus service on most routes shuts down by 9 pm.
- A user-friendly bus route information system eludes the city. For many destinations, two buses have to be changed, but there are no route plans to guide commuters. The bus numbers are mentioned at every place, but not the route and the time it will take to reach its destination.
- Mobile-based application “Chandigarh bus guide” informs about the bus routes and shelters, but not about the running schedule of buses.
- Commuters to get real-time information about bus routes.
- Control room integrated with GPS will enable buses to update commuters about running time.
- Funding: Under a World Bank scheme, Chandigarh along with Bhopal, Jaipur and Mira-Bhayandar has been chosen for a Rs 15-crore city bus service project
The Smart City benchmark is 24×7 power supply and 100 per cent recovery of costs. Almost 99 per cent households have an electricity connection in Chandigarh, which faces a power crisis especially in summers. The Electricity Department is yet to recover Rs 11 crore from defaulters, mostly government departments.
Power consumers: 2.1 lakh
Peak demand last summer: 350 MWExpected demand this summer: 400 MWThe UT Administration does not have a dedicated round-the-clock helpline for power complaints. Helpline number 0172-4639999 caters to power complaints as well as those pertaining to monkey menace, animal bite and snakebite cases, burning of dry leaves and electrical complaints at government houses. How city gets its power: Chandigarh does not generate power. It gets 220 MW from different sources — 47 pc from Mohali (PSPCL), 5 pc from Dhulkote (BBMB) and the remaining 48 pc from Nalagarh. Nearly 30 MW is channelled through Jammu and Kashmir as per a bilateral deal. The remaining power is bought at the power exchange, depending on its requirement.
UT has failed to initiate reforms, resulting in power cuts. It was to implement projects such as a management integrated system and Geographic Information System (GIS), among other initiatives. Smart City concept will mark a push for completion of these projects, besides turning to renewable energy and online monitoring of supply. UT will have to increase solar generation from 5 MW at present to 30 MW.
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