Social habits and culture play an important role in sustaining uniqueness of a city. Breaking old monuments to construct new shinning buildings is not an answer. It has a deep impact and can kill the identity of the city.
“Provide Core Infrastructure, a decent quality of life to its citizens, clean and sustainable environment and application of smart solutions”. - Mission for development of Smart Cities was launched in 2015 with this aim to develop 109 cities. So, will this really take us where we wish to reach? Bureau of Indian Standards defined and quantified contours for a Smart City in the Indian Context. The Ministry of Urban Development on the other hand released a standard to define a smart city “livability standards in cities”. The parameters were not fully quantified and were open to interpretation. Words like safe and clean, reflect the intent but do not provide a clear direction.
Broadly as per the Ministry, a city which offers basic Infrastructure, clean water and air, efficient urban mobility, public information, redressal of grievances, citizen’s engagement, adequate parking, 100 per cent waste management, safety etc., sums up to be a smart city. Isn’t this a need of any city? How different will be a Smart City? One of the key requirements for developing any city is Public participation. Nowhere can this be seen. It is imperative to involve public forums to decide priorities. Smart city cannot be smart until the people are ready for the change. A major need in the plan is to ensure awareness amongst people, help them accept the change and make stake holders accountable. To do this, mass public engagement and intensive social interaction with everyone including those who live on fringes is of prime importance. Social habits and culture play an important role in sustaining uniqueness of a city. Breaking old monuments to construct new shinning buildings is not an answer. It has a deep impact and can kill the identity of the city.
Ancient monuments need to be preserved, there is no incentive for people who are already under pressure for lack of money to conserve their old homes. Cities like Udaipur have beautiful havelis falling to pieces, ancient monuments in Delhi and other places go unnoticed. In western countries people live in ancient homes and they follow strict conservation rules. For a city to be Smart, it has to have a character. Therefore, it is smart and futuristic to conserve monuments, water bodies, heritage buildings and homes. To achieve a mission, there has to be well-defined strategy followed by a well-articulated plan with specific measurable goals and targets. People at large have to be involved as it is for them that the cities are built. Our honesty of intention can be seen by the impact of the changes made. Seoul, Vienna, Amsterdam, Paris, Stockholm are some of the smart cities in the world. Clean air, safe water and environment, beautiful sustainable development is what they pride in. It has not come easy but people’s ownership and right intent of all stake holders has made these cities what they are. It is time we woke up to realities.
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