PROPERTY PLUS

Make cities more liveable, sustainable

One of the many roads in the city is under a sheet of water following a downpour in Visakhapatnam. —Photo: C.V.Subrahmanyam

One of the many roads in the city is under a sheet of water following a downpour in Visakhapatnam. —Photo: C.V.Subrahmanyam  

Having been selected for development as a smart city with the US collaboration, there has been a keen interest on Visakhapatnam, writes G.V. Prasada Sarma

The debate over smart cities continues and has acquired more significance with the Prime Minister’s announcement on smart cities and urban development.

Having been selected for development as a smart city with the US collaboration, there has been a keen interest on Visakhapatnam.

But there has been a general view that the state of affairs in Indian cities needs to be considerably improved before they can turn smart.

Surprisingly, bigger cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad are grappling with bottlenecks and inadequacies and are highly stressed out on meeting citizens’ needs and addressing their concerns.

A workshop on “Smart India- Smart solutions for smart cities,” organised by CII, Andhra Pradesh, AP Government and APTDC provided the platform for debating the issues.

The definition of smart city itself has turned out to be different things to different people, says Sunder Raju, Managing Director of Atria Convergence Technologies Pvt. Ltd (ACT).

He terms it as visually challenged people describing an elephant. As a technology service provider, he sees a smart city as truly digitised vehicle for enablement.

On the other hand, a sanitation engineer judges it by supply of clean water and technology that conserves water from toilet to tap or separating garbage into dry and wet and disposing it scientifically and an environment scientist by per capital lung space, he elaborates. All of them hold good.

A whole basket of areas and domains have to be synchronised to deliver on the promise of smart city, Mr. Sunder Raju says. The challenge is immense with 300 million people coming for their existence and living to urban areas in the next 10 to 15 areas, he underlines.

Unless we come out with cutting edge answers and technologies, we will live poor and leave the next generation poorer, he warns.

The existing apparatus is broken and the chasm is going to increase if no sincere efforts are made, Mr. Sunder Raju said in brief interaction with The Hindu.

For instance, 30 per cent of sewage flows into the lakes in Bangaluru. To reach a distance of 9 km to 14 km, it takes one-and-a half to two-and-a-half hours, he said.

Cities have to be first liveable and then re-imagined before one talks of smart cites, driven by technology, he opines.

Abhilash Puzhakara, Deputy Head of Mission in Hyderabad and Head of Trade and Investment, British Deputy High Commission, Hyderabad, also cautions against vague and lofty ideas without taking the Indian conditions into account. There is no place for oversimplification and it (smart city) has to happen at community level, he points out.

R. Krishnamoorthy, Head, Building Automation and Machinery, Industrial Products at L&T Technology services, points out that no single model like that of the US can be followed. Multiple technologies play a role in building a smart city.

Indian cities have problems of their own so we can’t try out what worked for Barcelona or in Columbia, he says pointing out that Mumbai has Dharavi, Bangaluru and Hyderabad traffic jams and Tamil Nadu water scarcity.

Mr. Krishnamoorthy says from the Indian perspective liveability, workability and sustainability are important.

While every city has verticals like roads, buildings, energy, telecom, connectivity, health etc., meeting people’s needs, horizontals are the instruments that connect them for interoperability.

Arresting water and sewage leakages using sensors, preventing power outages and intelligent street-lighting, net-zero building generating their own power, public safety with video surveillance, online payments are some of the measures needed.





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