Developing Indian Concept of Smart Cities
Mumbai unit of Vijnan Bharati organised a conference on the topic of ‘Smart Cities: Delivery of Civic Services’ from June 6 to 7 at Welingkar Institute, known as We School, in Mumbai. The experts participating in the conference unanimously and strongly suggested that India’s own concept of Smart City should be devised and local expertise is created for its implementation. Experts from the fields of academics, research, industry, civic management, architect, engineering, politics and governance joined the deliberations inaugurated by Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu.
In his keynote speech, noted water and environment expert Dr Madhav Chitale said the concept of Smart City is a European concept and is based on their own experience, thought process and culture. It would be a big mistake if we follow it blindly. He said India has a great heritage and we find the concept of ‘Janapada’ in ancient texts, which is a harmonious system of inter-relation of villages and cities. We can offer the world this concept combining it with the modern technology. There was no rural and urban divide in ancient India. He cited the examples of Ayodhya, which was the centre of Koshal Janapada and Ujjain, the centre of Malava Janapada and also cities from the empire of Vijayanagaram.
Dr Chitale suggested that the city managers such as municipal officers and municipal commissioners (and also the corporators) should be imparted training on how to run city management before given them city municipal postings.
M Venkaiah Naidu said for the success of Smart Cities, the leadership should also be smart. The mentality of the citizens must be changed and awareness should be created for greater public participation. Dr Ketana Mehta, who works for upliftment of the physically challenged, stressed on “Inclusive Designing” to include the designs of public utilities that can be easily accessible to physically challenged– like access to ATMs, ramps at public buildings and toilets, accessible toilet facilities, accessible public transport systems, etc.
The speakers also emphasised that the Smart City does not only mean that the city is run on softwares or Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based technology. They said a typical Smart City should support the rural areas surrounding it. The quality of air, water, living and work places, sanitation, transportation, health care must be maintained at highest possible levels. Dr VK Saraswat, member of the NITI Ayog and a brain behind Prithvi missile, put up the concept of “Inventing to Zero” to cop-up with the problems of the modern cities. He pushed the idea of using ethanol, which is manufactured as a byproduct in plenty of quantity in the country, to be used as eco-friendly fuel.
The conference witnessed sessions on the subjects related to Physical Infrastructure, Social Infrastructure, Environmental Sustainability, Technology and Governance, etc. There was also a special session for free interaction with speakers. This session was telecast by CNBC Aawaz. Dr Suhas Pedanekar, industrialist Arun Nanda (Mahindra Industries), Dr S Ramdurai (chairman of National Skill Development Agency), Prof. Ramamrutam (director of IIT-Mumbai’s C-USE), industrialist Rajiv Lal (IDFC), industrialist Ajit Gulabchand (HCC), Prof. Rangan Banerjee (HoD – Eenrgy Sci. & Engg, IIT Mumbai), industrialist Ashwin Shroff (Excel Industries), Vice Chancellor Dr. Vasudha Kamat (SNDT University), Dr Ramesh Potdar (AACCI and CSSC), Prof. Rohit Shinkre (Rachana Sansad Academy of Architecture), Dr Satish Wate (Director NEERI), Prof Shyam Asolekar (CESE IIT Mumbai), Dr Prasad Modak (Environment Management Centre LLP), Industrialist Venkatesh Velluri (Vellury Foundation and Ingersoll Rand), industrialist Smt Anita Arjundas (Mahindra Grp), Dr Devidas Kulkarni (South Asia Head – Siemens Building Tech.), Dr. Srinivas Chary Vedala (Dierctor, Administrative Staff College, Hyd), Dr. Rishi Bhatnagar Global Head Digital Ent Servi.– Tech Mahindra), Shri Rajesh Ramachandran (Global CTO Rolta), Vivekanand Pai (National Secretary Vijnan Bharati), Shri Jaykumar (Vijnan Bharati) also spoke in various sessions. Rajesh Prabhu Salgaonkar