Emerging as a leader in implementing Smart City projects, Nagpur has set the pace for other Smart Cities in India. Shravan Hardikar, Commissioner, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of Elets News Network (ENN), shares how NMC is using unconventional energy and IT-enabled e-governance services to empower citizens. Excerpts:
How Nagpur plans to incorporate environmental sustainability in its Smart City Mission?
Nagpur has many advantages in terms of adopting sustainable measures. Owing to its geographical location, the city receives immense solar energy which is utilised to the optimum level. Most of the houses or office buildings in the city are powered by rooftop solar plants without power backup and work on the net metering policy.
We are converting all our power backups into energy saving formats, which means all the street lamps and florescent tubes will be replaced by LED lighting soon. We have recently appointed a consultant, who is now focusing on establishing rooftop solar packs at all public establishments in the city. We plan to generate 27 megawatts of energy in the city from these rooftop solar power projects. Our pumping stations will require additional 37 megawatts of energy.
We are also planning to build a solar power plant through Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). In future, we are also planning to introduce low-carbon mobility plans. We have finilesed Indo-European joint initiative ‘Mobilise Your City’ that will be supported by the French government through an NGO called Kodatu. It will enable us to introduce low-carbon electric buses which will run on solar power.
Tell us about key initiatives launched by Nagpur Municipal Corporation under the Smart City Mission.
One of our major initiatives is ‘Safe and Smart Nagpur’. At the time of the commencement of the Smart City Mission, Nagpur also started citizen engagement programmes. We went to people to understand their requirements. Many people voiced their concerns over cleanliness, greenery, and safety in the city. The concept of smart city envisages IT-enabled quality services at people’s doorstep. This enabled us to ensure much faster, process oriented and accurate data to offer citizen- centric services. IT-enabled services empower our citizens to receive all government services without physically visiting government offices. We need to realise that besides tech-enabled infrastructure, governance, etc, it is the citizens and their mindset responsible for converting a city into a smart city.
We need to have vibrant and smart space in the city. Access to the internet and other technological advancements is also important for citizens to avail IT-enabled government and nongovernment services from the comfort of their homes.
One of the key aspects related to the growth and development of smart cities is the bandwidth of infrastructure that people will be accessing in the future. Nagpur as a city has started thinking about having its own bandwidth of infrastructure. In fact, Nagpur will be the first city to have its own technology infrastructure to provide better services to the citizens. This way, we will become the service provider for people with the help of private players. On this basis, we are launching and simultaneously working on several pan-city initiatives which are important components of a smart and safe city. Among the five components, a 1,200 km long optical network. is of prime importance. Although we need only 25 per cent of the proposed components, the rest will be available to people for usage.
We will soon introduce a multi-utility kiosk. It will work as a ticket vending system for public transport and will provide top up service for mobility smart cards. We have already issued a tender for it.
What initiatives has the municipality taken to ensure smart transportation in the city?
To ensure smart transportation in the city, we have already launched an app which tells the accurate time of public buses, expected time for the next bus, seat availability, time to reach destination, etc. We have also started a smart solid waste management programme under which all the vehicles collecting garbage from doorsteps have been equipped with GPS for online tracking.
“We have also identified a stretch of 5.5 km in West Nagpur, starting from Japanese garden to Khamla Chowk, which will be used to implement ‘smart’ transport initiatives.”
Once our public transport system implements this, an adaptive traffic control will be implemented. In adaptive traffic control, we will start identifying the buses for traffic violations like jumping of signals, illegal parking, etc. We have also identified a stretch of 5.5 km in Nagpur – from a Japanese garden to Khamla Chowk – which will be used to implement ‘smart’ transport initiatives.
How has been the response of investors, especially after Nagpur was selected under the smart city mission?
Firstly, I must mention that this is the first integrated smart city project. No one has been able to replicate the end-to-end integrated model as we have done in our city. As many as four big companies competed for tenders and bagged several projects. Big corporates like Larsen and Toubro (L&T), Honeywell, Sterlite, Wipro and several others have shown interest to invest in several projects.
What challenges are you facing in the implementation of smart city projects?
In a smart city, one part comprises technology and the other part is about infrastructural development. We have a strong water supply system and we are moving towards 24/7 water supply in the city. We have a persistent problem of sewerage in the city which we are trying to address by improving the infrastructure. We have already started treating the excess sewerage water which is sold as consumable water at the nearest vending point. In order to treat 200 million litres of additional sewerage water, there is another project which is yet to be implemented. After the project is implemented, Nagpur will be the first city to treat 100 per cent of its water and reuse the same. We are also on the way to make our roads smarter. Having a good road is not sufficient, it should be smartly decorated. We recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding for complete conversion of city’s light system to energy – efficient LEDs.