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Public transport high on ‘smart’ Bhubaneswar’s wishlist

Bhubaneswar Municipal Commissioner Dr Krishan Kumar said the first priority of BMC would be to provide reliable and quick transport.

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar |
January 28, 2016 9:55:51 pm

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Odisha’s capital city Bhubaneswar, which topped the list of 20 smart cities, will focus on making public transport available to all of its 1 million residents in the next 3-4 years, and have a smart traffic management for unclogging its roads.

Hours after Union Urban Development Minister Venkaih Naidu announced that Bhubaneswar has topped the 20 cities with 78.83 marks (out of 100), Bhubaneswar Municipal Commissioner Dr Krishan Kumar said the first priority of BMC would be to provide reliable and quick transport.

“In all our polls, pubic transport emerged as the major issue with it securing 32 per cent of the votes. We have now around 100 buses rolling inside the municipal area. We plan to increase to 400 in next 4 years with provision of night service buses. The focus will be on making people use public transport more,” he said.

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Even on the Bhubaneswar smart city Facebook page, which also topped the Facebook page of other cities, public transport is high on the wishlist.

An action plan has also been prepared for better traffic management in which all traffic lights would be interconnected through an intelligent city operation and management centre. Each of the junctions would have 5 CCTV cameras to keep an eye on traffic law violators, while 40 junctions would sport environmental sensors.

As part of the smart city programme, the focus will be on turning roads into streets so that they just don’t belong to those driving vehicles.

“The roads will be made pedestrian friendly with facilities for bicycle renting and sharing like cities in foreign countries. There is no point just widening the roads as the Gurgaon Expressway has proved. Changing the travel habits with a smart public transport system will unclog the roads,” Krishan Kumar said. Currently, Bhubaneswar has a road length of 1064 km but a majority of the road is narrow with little or no footpath on either side.

To make all the 10-12 government departments in the city follow a common guideline on street design, BMC has drafted a street design guideline in which footpath will be an integral part. To start with the 5 km long Janpath that runs along the city, will be turned into a pedestrian friendly roadway.

The city railway station will be developed by the municipal corporation by turning it into a multi-modal hub in which there will be multi-level parking area, nigh shelters, street vendor market and place for hosting cultural events. There will be 4.2 lakh sq ft of retail space available for hotels and convention centres in the hub.

Officials said in the next 5 years, Bhubaneswar like other cities will get Rs 1000 crore with Centre pitching in half of it. However, most of the money needed for turning the city into a smart one will come from private parties. The Bhubaneswar Town centre district, which occupies just about 3 per cent of the municipal area, will need Rs 4,537 crore for its development, half of which needs funding through public-private partnership.

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