Jalandhar made it to the third list of Smart Cities under the Centre’s flagship programme of Smart Cities Mission. Though barely two months in office as the city’s Municipal Commissioner Dr Basant Garg, an IAS topper of the 2005-batch, already has his fingers on the city’s pulse. In conversation with Priya Yadav of Elets News Network (ENN), he revealed about his plans to turn Jalandhar into a Smart City.
What is the status of the Jalandhar Smart City project?
The Municipal Corporation of Jalandhar (MCJ) got its company registered in November 2016. The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed will do the planning, give approval to the works, release funds, operate and evaluate the projects to be carried under the Smart Cities Mission. Proposals have been invited for the Project Management Consultant (Consultancy Services) for assisting Jalandhar Smart City Limited (JSCL) in implementing Smart City Projects.
“The Internet of Things will be extremely useful in the efficient delivery of services to the citizens, be it basic amenities like waste management system, water or power distribution etc.”
What kind of challenges you foresee in transforming the city to a smart one?
As the first step towards efficient delivery of citizen services, we are providing online services to reduce the physical interaction with the government staff. This will reduce the load on the limited government staff besides facilitating the people in paying bills etc at the click of a button. We are coming out with apps for the same. Already people are paying electricity, water bills online and are even filing property tax online. Citizen facilitation centre have been set up and more will be added.
What are the elements that you think are essential for a Smart City?
We are in an age where the dynamics of the environment are changing very fast on account of the computerisation and internet. The Internet of Things will be extremely useful in the efficient delivery of services to the citizens, be it basic amenities like waste management system, water or power distribution etc. The integration of technology in achieving the targets of Smart Cities Mission will accelerate the pace of projects and improve their quality and efficiency.
Jalandhar has always been known for its sports industry, what are the plans to develop it further? Plans are afoot to make Jalandhar a magnet for sports activities. For this, a multi-purpose stadium is on the anvil that will promote sports and cultural activities, a multi-purpose arena that will be a commercial hub for promoting the city’s sports goods. This will be complemented with various education facilities and health institutes. There is also potential to develop Sports Rehabilitation and Injury Centre.
“A multi-purpose stadium is on the anvil that will promote sports and cultural activities, a multi-purpose arena that will be a commercial hub for promoting the city’s sports goods.”
How do you propose to improve the water supply and good sewage system, the basic amenities, to residents?
We are looking at increasing the efficiency of the system by replacing pumps and parts of water lines, by providing Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) system which enable better control and monitoring of water supply system. We will be installing advanced type of automated meter reading and also introduce smart billing and collection system. For improving the sewage system we will have to replace sewage lines that have become outdated. Modern machinery will be used to clean sewerage. For real time monitoring of sewage, sensors will be put at manholes. To maintain cleanliness, we are increasing the number of public toilets.