With the launch of Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, the travelling time from Vadodara to Mumbai will come down to less than two hours. This means, Vadodara will become an extended suburb of Mumbai, especially when the travelling time is all set to become less than what is required to travel from one part of Mumbai to another, says Dr Vinod Rao, Commissioner, Vadodara Municipal Corporation, in conversation with Dipen Pradhan and Sudheer Goutham of Elets News Network (ENN).
“The core opportunities of Vadodara include revival of rivers and lakes, and along with it precious lands will be reclaimed for public recreational and other activities.”
How will Vadodara Smart City implementation serve as an example for other aspiring Smart Cities to follow?
Vadodara Smart City initiatives stand unique for their ‘core strength’ and ‘core opportunity’. The core strength of Vadodara is its unique nature as a Heritage City and the core opportunity includes revival of rivers and lakes. Heritage structures of the city, built by popular and visionary ruler Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III (1875-1939), are being renovated for the first time such historical structures include Char Darwaza, the Central Mandvi Tower, Sur Sagar Lake etc. Recently, we started lighting up important heritage structures from 7PM to 10PM. People come out during nights just to see the illuminated city . For such revival, the Municipal Corporation has increased the number of Area Based Development (ABD) projects. The core opportunities of Vadodara include revival of rivers and lakes, and along with it precious lands will be reclaimed for public recreational and other activities.
How does Vadodara Municipal Corporation intend to address basic needs of larger urban population in providing piped water, sanitation and sewage facilities?
Maharaja Sayajirao had built around 30-35 lakes, ponds and water bodies for efficient water management and flood management in the city. One by one, such environmental heritage of Vadodara is getting renovated —free from encroachments —which will again contribute in the water management and flood management of the city. Similarly, the Vishwamitri Riverfront Development project under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) is in the process of getting approval from the Central Government. This project aims to solve entire sewage problem of the city, and thus will bring an end to the pollution in the river.
How will Vadodara Smart City initiatives encourage tourism in the city and promote Vadodara as the cultural capital of Gujarat?
All intervention undertaken by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation aims to prepare the city for a tourism revolution. Maximum efforts are being made to enhance the transportation through air, rail and road connectivity. In the coming days, foreign travellers in the city will multiply with the completion of international airport terminal. The infrastructure development for railway station is proceeding at full speed. With the launch of Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, the travelling time from Vadodara to Mumbai will come down to less than two hours. This means, Vadodara will become an extended suburb of Mumbai, especially when the travelling time is all set to become less than what is required to travel from one part of Mumbai to another. Later, people may prefer to stay in Vadodara and work in Mumbai. Furthermore, the road connectivity will see a major transformation after Mumbai-Vadodara Express Highway project, having six lanes, runs full-fledged. This will also bring down the travelling time by an hour or two. Plans are also on the cards to trigger growth in the peripheries and maintain balance across the length and breadth of the city. So connectivity of Vadodara with rest of the world is looking forward for a great change.
“All the interventions which Vadodara Municipal Corporation has undertaken is to prepare the city for a tourism revolution. Maximum efforts are being made on the transportation through air, rail and road connectivity.”
We have also thought of improving the internal connectivity within the city. Under an ambitious city bus project, we have decided to add 150 buses to the present fleet of 50-55 buses, which will be further extended to 200-250 buses. It will be the most cost-effective project focused on renewal energy —having installed IT-system, CCTV, Geographic Information System (GIS), LED screens, mobile charging facility, free Wi-Fi, etc. With minimal viability of funding, as compared to other cities, we are looking to give the best of services.
How is Public Private Partnership (PPP) model being approached in the Smart City initiatives for Vadodara?
We’re looking for PPP projects to invest in physical infrastructure, environment infrastructure, health and other social sectors including urban housing. For it to become a reality, a fund ‘to the tune of Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 crores is required. This kind of investment is possible through participation of corporate sectors, equity partners, technology providers, financers, etc. Our housing projects are gradually moving towards PPP model. In the coming days, Vadodara Municipal Corporation will be taking proactive initiatives in this direction. Vadodara would be the first city in the country to have public Wi-Fi through PPP model.
What cyber security measures are being undertaken to ensure the safety of Vadodara citizens?
For Vadodara, our Wi-Fi project includes installing 450 intelligent poles to cover the entire city. For every 300-500 metre area, one Wi-Fi spot is available. The control command centre is one of the major project of Vadodara. With its construction nearing completion, a video wall—a special multi-monitor setup of multiple computers—and data centre will be installed to monitor city’s traffic, security, also handling all GIS surveys, water Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), and the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) of the city. Avalanche Global—a leading ethical hacker—has been awarded the work for cyber security, servers, network and PCs. They have ensured the Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) analysis, proper firewalls, Fiber to the Home, etc, to check cyber security. The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) is our consultant. Some of our team members are affiliated to our vendors. We are also on the process of hiring a project manager to handle the various projects. Within six months, the IT Department would have a strong team handling all the IT-related solutions for Vadodara.