Sweden, known for its SymbioCity model for developing sustainable cities, has offered a helping hand to the Maharashtra government’s plan to develop ten smart cities and a vast Metro railway network. One of the key inputs Sweden shared with the state government is the idea of involving social scientists and citizens in the planning phase of smart cities.
The Swedish government has also invited a chief minister-led delegation to Sweden to study their smart city model, solid waste management and urban transportation models. Swedish Minister for Housing Urban Development and Information Technology Mehmet Kaplan Saturday met Maharashtra Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya to discuss the state’s plans, and likely challenges in the development of smart cities, solid waste management system and mass transit.
“We will collaborate with the Maharashtra government on all these goals. A smart city is where the planners have thought about every detail of everyday life; open spaces, transportation, rainwater harvesting and security. Cities can bring social scientists in the planning exercise to make it socially sustainable. Involvement of people helps in coming up with the best solutions,” Kaplan said.
As part of the Union government’s plan of creating a hundred smart cities in India over the next five years, the Maharashtra government proposes to develop ten smart cities; Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivli, Thane, Pune, Nashik, Amravati, Solapur, Nagpur, and Aurangabad.
The Swedish government has developed smart cities, both brown field and green field. The SymbioCities, are described as a symbiosis of all major aspects of the life of a citizen. In a recent project, Hammarby by-the-sea district, an old industrial area of wharfs and docks, was transformed.
Kaplan said Sweden has experience in management of solid waste, a field where Maharashtra is facing challenges. Sweden says the problem is likely to be exacerbated in future. Sweden can share knowledge on the most effective techniques that worked for Sweden.
“We create biogas from solid waste to heat our buildings, as Sweden is a cold country. Last year, Sweden got 2.8 million tonne waste from other countries to use as a resource to heat our buildings. That is 8,000 trucks of solid waste every day,” he said. The Swedish government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with India for cooperation in the field of sustainable urban development.