Making a smart city entails facilitating many services at the grass root level which is then combined with technology to take it another level. Talking on the same lines, Chandra Singh Kothari, Mayor of Udaipur, shares his insight and plans of making Udaipur a smart city by maintaining its cultural heritage and infusing elements of modernism in a conversation with Kartik Sharma of Elets News Network (ENN). According to Kothari, every city needs a different customised plan to suit its requirements to be turned into a smart city. Excerpts:
What is your vision to make Udaipur a smart city?
First of all, we want that the culture of this city be preserved at all cost. If you see from the point of view of natural resources and heritage, there are various similar wonders preexisting in the city which already make it rich. So our aim is to maintain the old vintages and also to adopt elements of modernization to the extent that will result in ease of life.
That’s why we have taken a walled city as a starting point. There are other issues such as sewerage, traffic and parking. Parking and traffic are linked up with one another, so these are the three things we have to resolve on a priority basis.
Sewerage is the biggest challenge facing us. Places with handpumps no more produce clean water. There are narrow lanes and in underground, there are sewerage and hand pumps at an interval of short distance.
Every city has to have a different plan customised to suite its requirement. You can implement the same plan for Jaipur and Udaipur. We have visited Denmark, but you cannot replicate the same plan.
In my 1.5 years of tenure, we have developed various tourist points. Then there are the greeneries and the mountains surrounding the city. The City Municipality will give a sum of 2 crore every year to the forest department to create more greenery
What are the incentives that your government is offering to promote tourism?
In my 1.5 years of tenure, we have developed various tourist points. Then there are the greeneries and the mountains surrounding the city. The City Municipality will give a sum of Rs 2 crore every year to the forest department to create more greenery. It is also called the city of lakes, perhaps this is the only city in Rajasthan that spends `5.5 crore on single machinery to develop lakes. There is a system comprising of manual labour and machineries which are always engaged to maintain our lakes as it is one of our biggest attractions. We have rich and dense biodiversity like no other place. Our biological park is second to none. We are also working on a unique bird park project which will harbor birds that is only read in books or seen in TV.
What role technology has to play in all of the development projects that you mentioned above?
We are trying to provide all services online. We don’t have any problems in accepting that so far there hasn’t been an extensive adoption and implementation of information technology, but the time is ripe now and we have resources at our disposal like budgetary and consultancy. Our new Municipal Commissioner is a young man and is also tech savvy, so now things will move in a fast pace.
What are the steps the government or the city administration is taking to woo industrialists since they are also eyeing for investment opportunities in the city?
Truly speaking, we have lagged behind in this sector. The only industries that have existed here for a long period is mining, be it soft stone or marble. But we are trying to make it an education and a medical hub. Udaipur probably will be the first city in Rajasthan where five medical colleges will run simultaneously.