India does not need more Smart Cities, says Urban Affairs Secy

New Delhi: Minister of Urban Development M.Venkaiah Naidu addresses newsmen to announce third list of Smart Cities, in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo by Kamal Kishore (PTI9_20_2016_000139A)

New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) Even as work is underway on building 100 Smart Cities across the country, there is no need for more as learnings from the ongoing mission can be replicated for other cities and towns in the country, a top official of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs said on Tuesday.

“Learnings from 100 Smart Cities Mission is very important… people often ask me about the next round of Smart Cities and I tell them that it is not required because we can utilise the learnings from our ongoing mission, replicate the same and move ahead,” Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary D.S. Mishra said at a webinar on “Digital Transformation of Smart Cities in India and path ahead”.

Quoting examples of various smart cities – Indore, Bhopal, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad and others, he said: “We have learnt a lot of things that can be replicated in shoring up infrastructure in other cities to achieve our goal of improving our citizens’ lives and promote ease of living, be it in terms of health, education, public transport, safety and surveillance and other such aspects.”

Highlighting the three main goals of Smart Cities Mission, Mishra said: “It is about improving liveability, economic ability and sustainability… for this we are conducting all sorts of new experiments in our smart cities – building basic infrastructure using technology to provide better facilities and sustainable solutions to people.”

“We are focusing on capturing the data and using it as an open source to further improve the living standard of people and how we can make our cities climate resilient,” he added.

Mishra also informed that work is likely to be soon completed on 33 of the 49 Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCC) that were turned into Covid-19 war rooms.

“In cities where the infection was rapidly spreading, the ICCCs helped track movement of each and every patient, tracing their contacts, supplying things to their homes, ensuring cleanliness and overall logistics together with predicting requirement of number of beds, masks, sanitisers and others,” he said.

“All this information was smoothly compiled with the help of our integrated command and control centres and has been documented. We have also uploaded it on our ministry’s website.”

The Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary also gave examples of proper management using technology in case of recent floods in Vadodra, cyclone in Vizag and holding the Kumbh Mela with the help of ICCC.

About digital transformation in the recent years, he said: “There is a new thinking which has introduced the concept of Smart Cities in India which is all about further improving the lives of our citizens, leading to quality of life and promoting ease of living through optimal use of all resources available at our disposal.”

Mishra further said that the Prime Minister, while giving a call for Aatmanirbhar Bharat, talked about three things – healthy individual, healthy society and healthy economy, and to accomplish all these three, it is needed to optimally utilise all the resources available. “For this we need to use technology in a big way and so Smart Cities concept can help us learn a lot in this behalf.”

He also said that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is documenting most information – be it related to smart road construction, water supply, sanitation, mobility etc.

Terming digital transformation as a positive aspect of Covid-19, the Secretary said: “It is during the lockdown that we realised that life has to go on and for that it was only due to digital medium that we contacted people be it for sanitation, logistics, tracking patients and others… such exercises were possible only via digital medium.”

He also said that the pandemic has also brought a lot of challenges, and one big challenge is about how to make public transport in such a way that people can be saved from infectious diseases like Covid-19.

In his address, Pradeep Aggarwal, Chairman, ASSOCHAM National Council on Real Estate, Housing and Urban Development, said: “The epidemic of Covid-19 has given us an opportunity to think once again on the Smart City Mission and build sustainable cities which can fight such epidemic like situations. It has made us realize that we will need to strengthen the health and education facilities of such cities.”

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