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Smart Cities list topper: The road ahead for Odisha’s capital

At present, Bhubaneswar has a road length of 1,064 km but a majority of the those are narrow with little or no footpath.

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Published: January 30, 2016 2:29:15 am

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

Hours after Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu announced that the city has topped the list with 78.83 marks, Bhubaneswar Municipal Commissioner Krishan Kumar said that the first priority of BMC would be to provide reliable and quick transport.

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“In all our polls, public 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.

Even on Bhubaneswar’s Facebook page, public transport topped 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 eyes on traffic law violators while 40 junctions will sport environmental sensors.

As part of the Smart City programme, the focus will be on converting roads into streets so that they don’t belong to only vehicle owners.

“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,” Kumar said.

At present, Bhubaneswar has a road length of 1,064 km but a majority of the those are narrow with little or no footpath.

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, night shelters, street vendor market and place for hosting cultural events. There will be 4.2 lakh sq ft of retail space and 4.2 lakh square ft of hotel and a convention centre in the hub. Officials said that over the next 5 years, Bhubaneswar, like other smart cities will receive Rs 1,000 crore with Centre pitching in half of the amount.

However, most of the money needed for turning the city into a smart one will come from private parties.

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