Today in the morning I had the opportunity to attend the Public Consultation for Smart City Project on the invitation by Mr. Satish Khot of NSCC and organized by by PMC Commissioner Mr. Kunal Kumar. It turned out to be a great experience as Mr. Commissioner shared his experiences while attending various conferences, seminars and workshops with regard to the Smart City Project deliberations including one with the PM. The Commissioner started on the note that after about an year's brainstorming of array of countrymen with various statures and intellects, Government of India launched the Smart City project on 25 June 2015.
Mr. Commissioner explained the concept of Smart City in PM's words and vision that any city could be termed as Smart if it is 2 steps ahead in finding solutions to its imminent issues. Such a city should also perform well in 3 major areas -
1. Quality of life - Water, Sanitation, Transportation and such basic facilities.
2. Competitiveness - Welcoming the investments with ease of doing business.
3. Sustainability - To be able to maintain its Environment to the optimum level.
Mr. Commissioner also mentioned that the 'Mercer 2015 Quality of Living rankings' evaluated local living conditions in more than 440 cities around the world where Pune ranked at 145, second in the country after Hyderabad. And the more encouraging piece of NEWS was that it also highlights Pune among evolving business centers and emerging 9 cities around the world with citation "Hosts IT and automotive companies".
The interesting findings were the criteria for the Smart City Eligibility that said it should have the capacity to handle the projects of 2000 Cr and more and should be able to carry out projects of value 50,000 Cr. Although these figures would be enough for the industrious Punekars to feel proud, the another interesting fact that proved to be the highlight of the event was the similar activity of inviting suggestions on the national level fetched just 1241 responses in a week whereas www.punesmartcity.org recorded over 3 Lac hits in first 3 days of its launch and over 3000+ suggestions in these 3 days! Bravo aware and responsive Punekars... Way to go!
Mr. Commissioner also added that he has been congratulated for this massive public participation and informed that all other cities in the Smart City Competition are being advised to follow the PPP... Pune Public Participation model! Encouraged with such an enthusiastic and expressive response to his appeal, Mr. Commissioner proposed to have 'Smart City Samvad' (स्मार्ट सिटी संवाद) at all the organizations as well as University to take this most Democratic Activity one step ahead facilitating involvement of as many citizens as possible in the policy making process for their city. An incredibly profound initiative indeed!
Although the event that lasted for over 2 hours was quite happening and interactive, majority of the audience mistook it for 'Mohalla Committee Meeting' and tried to present issues they are facing rather than suggestions they could make to be implemented in the proposed smart city. However few good suggestions like Integration of entire Transport System, Footpath and Cycle Track policy, 'Road' Water Harvesting, Biodiversity Park were interesting the most applauded and well received was starting 'Smart Area Competition' within the city on the lines of Smart City Competition, that Mr. Commissioner also appreciated.
Albeit the fervor of Smart City Competition is evident in Pune air, like an unanswered concern of one of the senior citizen in the audience, it remains to be seen how the Commissioner's office mechanism deals with the down-pouring suggestions and emails. Hoping for each 'piece of advice' to reach it's destination, I am keeping my fingers crossed as I also have sent a long list of fundamental suggestions for consideration to Mr. Commissioner. I would share it here once I receive some response to it or even nothing at all comes back to me...!
Stay tuned, take care and be aware...!