Bengaluru

State government sets in motion process to roll out Smart City plan

K.R. Market.

K.R. Market.   | Photo Credit: V Sreenivasa Murthy

Permits BBMP to form a company, which will take the proposal forward

After finally making it to the list of ‘Smart Cities’, the process to make Bengaluru ‘smart’ has begun, with the State government recently clearing the decks for the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to form a company, which will now take the proposal forward.

BBMP officials said the relevant Government Order had been passed on October 7. The company will be registered under the Companies Act, but will be under the control of the government. A high-powered committee is expected to meet by this month-end to implement the project.

Bengaluru made it to the Smart Cities Mission this year in its third attempt, having lost in two rounds of selection. Unlike the previous years, this time, the BBMP had short-listed only the core city areas following an analysis of proposals of cities that made it to the list.

Among the areas that the BBMP’s proposal focusses on are Shivajinagar and Kempegowda bus stand, K.R. Market, Russell Market, Tipu fort, Kempegowda museum, Brigade Road, and Commercial Street.

Sources said projects for which the detailed project reports (DPRs) are ready are likely to be taken up first, which include upgrading K.R. Market and proposals to improve road infrastructure.

BBMP officials, however, admitted that the funds they were getting from the Centre are not going to suffice to achieve much. “In fact, we are spending much more. Calling it a ‘Smart City’ is also a misnomer; it is more like a ‘smart neighbourhood’, as the funds are not enough to cover the entire city,” said an official.

‘Forget about making city smart, fix problems first’

Even as the Smart City project is all set to take off, not many are enthusiastic about it. With the recent rains leaving the infrastructure in a mess, as well as exposing all that is wrong with it, residents are demanding that the house should be set in order first before moving onto more ambitious plans.

Srinivas Alavilli of Citizens for Bengaluru, which, along with other organisations and groups, recently organised a ‘Beku Beda Santhe’, said Bengaluru had to be brought to ‘normal’ first before becoming ‘smart’.

“All of what has been proposed sound too good to be true, especially at a time when the fundamental system is broken. Agencies, such as the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom), Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd., have no connection with the BBMP, which has limited powers. Adding yet another agency will lead to more chaos,” he said.

His argument is that an entity such as a separate company to implement the Smart City proposals would lead to more centralisation rather than decentralisation, which is the need of the hour for a city as big as Bengaluru. “Islands of excellence would only be a temporary bandage solution,” he added.

Echoing similar demands, noted architect Naresh Narasimhan said the BBMP needs ‘radical restructuring’ and must be made accountable to be able to cause a ‘revolution’.

N.S. Mukunda, one of the founders of Citizen Action Forum, termed the concept of ‘Smart City’ a ‘flawed one’ and asked for basic infrastructure to be fulfilled for the entire city. “Having 24x7 water supply would make a city smart; mass public transport, such as commuter rail and metro, would make it smart. The next set of priorities would be roads, health and education. Then we would definitely be a smart city,” he said.

What BBMP has proposed

AREA BASED DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

1) Revitalisation of historic heart of city: Road redevelopment under TenderSURE model

2) Integrated mobility towards creating vibrant destination: Shivajinagar bus station and Russell Market, Kempegowda Bus Stand

3) Redevelopment of historic economic centres: K.R. Market, Malleswaram Market

4) Innovation of downstream clean up of drainage system: Ulsoor lake, Sankey Tank

5) Protection and redevelopment of centrally located park land: Cubbon Park

6) Increasing affordable housing stock through slum redevelopment: Swathanthra Palya Slum redevelopment, Gandhinagar

7) Retrofitting of a health care facility: K.C. General Hospital

CITIZEN CENTRIC E-GOVERNANCE AND SERVICES GOVERNANCE

GOVERNANCE

Municipal finance reforms

Participatory budgeting

Improvement in property tax collection

Grievance management

Online project information system for public project management

Improvement of neighborhood safety

PUBLIC SERVICES

BTRIPS – Bengaluru Travel Related Information and Planning System

Open data portal for citizen information and innovation

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Printable version | May 23, 2020 7:27:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/state-government-sets-in-motion-process-to-roll-out-smart-city-plan/article19906942.ece

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