A few days before the poll code of conduct set in, the Congress-led Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) had called for tenders to create Maharashtra’s first smart city, Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), the glitzy business district of the country’s commercial capital.
Building smart cities has been a major campaign agenda of the BJP and a dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Union government has set aside Rs 7,060 crore for the creation of 100 smart cities either by moulding satellite towns around large cities or modernising existing mid-sized cities.
The MMRDA, which was chaired by former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, on September 10 invited expressions of interest for basic smart city initiatives for surveillance, connectivity, parking facilities and citizen-centric services based on information and communication technology networks.
Naseem Khan, a Congress MLA and guardian minister for the Mumbai suburbs, said while projecting the overall infrastructure development brought about by his party, the Congress is also positioning the smart city initiative in BKC as a major achievement.
“BJP leaders are only talking about it. Congress leaders actually deliver. While they are still busy preparing the vision document for smart cities, the state Congress government has gone ahead and started tendering for a smart city,” Khan said.
Smart cities are those where data collected through sensors is used to enhance efficiency in utilities and citizens’ services such as electricity, water, drainage, gas, traffic, parking and so on, and enable real time monitoring by authorities. Effective eco-friendly transportation systems, transparent processes for commercial activities, and online approval systems are other hallmarks of a smart city.
A senior MMRDA official who did not wish to be named said, “What we are doing in BKC is just the basic first level of a smart city. We won’t reach the global standards by implementing these initiatives, but in the next five years, we will add on more smartness features with the network as the backbone and reach the level of cities such as Barcelona and Copenhagen.”
Under the plan, the MMRDA will first cover the 175-hectare area in a public wi-fi network at a high Internet speed of 5 Mbps. There would be 90 surveillance cameras with direct coordination with security agencies to keep an eye on the E and G blocks of the complex.
Visitors will be able to avail of a smart parking facility. They will know the nearest available parking slot of the 3,000 parking slots in BKC without having to manually hunt for one. This is expected to reduce unauthorised parking and will bring down the time required to park from 20 minutes to 5 minutes, the MMRDA official said.
The 841 streetlights in BKC would be equipped with solar panels to generate power during the day and utilise it after dark with motion sensors fitted on the lights so that they switch on based on requirement. Besides, citizen-centric mobile applications will be launched for emergency services, or to provide details of the nearest restaurants and so on, the official said.
MMRDA has also planned to introduce electric and hybrid buses to ply within the business district and the nearest stations.