LUDHIANA is among the first 20 cities that would be developed as smart cities across the country. Significantly, Chandigarh did not make the cut. The names were announced by Urban Development minister M Venkaiah Naidu Thursday.
Jalandhar and Amritsar that were also in the race from Punjab failed to make the cut. Contenders from Haryana (Gurgaon and Faridabad) and Himachal Pradesh (Shimla and Dharamshala) also failed to make it to the list.
Ludhiana stole a march over Jalandhar and Amritsar owing to a ‘citizen engagement programme’ started by the MC. Under the programme, nearly 1.4 lakh citizens had cited pollution and traffic as their key concerns.
Elaborating on the programme, Ghanshyam Thori, Additional Commissioner, Ludhiana MC, said that in the first phase of the programme that started in October, they made use of innovative features like Facebook, WhatsApp and a portal, MyGov.in, to get feedback from people.
At least 1 lakh responses were received through the portal.
Significantly, ‘Ludhiana MC Smart City’ Facebook page has 38,997 likes. In comparison, the number stands at 796 for ‘Smart City Jalandhar’ page and just 130 for ‘Smart City Amritsar’.
These figures, according to officials, helped the city’s case. “In our Smart City draft plan sent to the ministry, we had stated that we had responses from over one lakh people through a survey, and that 39,000 are actively engaged with us on Facebook. We mentioned that following their responses, pollution and traffic management were selected as top priorities for the city.”
The official added: “We also created a separate website, http://www.smartcityludhiana.in, where we invited suggestions and also asked people to vote. NGOs and youth groups helped us in reaching out to schools, colleges and other stakeholders.”
The MC also held a contest, ‘Jiven Main Vekhan (My Vision for Ludhiana), that received 2,200 submissions on http://www.mygov.in.
“In the contest, residents were asked to give their suggestion in 100 words on the changes they would like in their city. Votes were also sought through SMS,” Thori told The Indian Express.
AECOM-IBM, the MC’s consultant, had prepared a detailed project report after touring different areas. It had put as many as 38 teams on the job to get feedback from those who could not give suggestions online.
By March 31, the municipal corporation will get Rs 200 crore from the central and state governments in 50:50 ratio.
In the initial phase, Sarabha Nagar, Ghumar Mandi and historical Chaura Bazaar of Old City have been identified to be developed under the retrofitting model. Retrofitting aims at introducing planning in an existing built-up area of 500 acres so as to make it more efficient and liveable. The MC has already started a ‘free wifi’ service at Sarabha Nagar market.
For redevelopment, an area of 50 acres needs to be identified, for which Jawahar Camp has been selected.
Under pan-city proposals, Ludhiana has proposed GPS-enabled smart e-rickshaws to replace diesel autos. The MC has also proposed to install unique identification number (UID) plates on each property of the city, based on the geographic information system (GIS) MC commissioner GK Singh Dhaliwal said:
“The project themed ‘Ludhiana: the clean and green bicycle capital’ submitted to the ministry focused on two things- strengthening the city bus network and motivating people to cycle. What has worked for us is citizen participation. Our main proposal focused on reducing pollution. By February 28, city buses will go up from 57 to 100 and its limit to ply has been increased from 5km to 10 km. Then, the MC would tie up with cycle manufacturers to make cycling a habit in city. Being the cycle manufacturing hub of the country, we aim at making Ludhiana the most bike-friendly city of India,” he said.