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Maha Kumbh 2021: Haridwar’s watershed moment

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Nitin Bhadauria, Vice Chairman, HaridwarFor companies, a good work in Haridwar during a big occasion like Maha Kumbh means a big opportunity to earn lots of accolades and a potential of replicating it at other places of similar scale as well, revealed Nitin Bhadauria, Vice Chairman, Haridwar Roorkee Development Authority (HRDA), and Commissioner, Haridwar Municipal Corporation, in an exclusive interview with Souvik Goswami of Elets News Network (ENN).

How do you seek to prepare Haridwar for the Maha Kumbh 2021?

Haridwar is one of the most sacred and holy cities in the spectrum of Hinduism. We are aspiring to change the user experience of the people coming to the ‘Gateway to Gods- Haridwar’. Maha Kumbh 2021 is an opportunity for us in that direction, as we will be getting adequate infrastructure funding. We want visitors returning from Haridwar to have good experience of the place. They should be provided necessary services with the help of technology and innovation. Landscape of the city should be changed drastically and we are working on that too. Many tourists embark upon ‘Chardhaam Yatra’, which generally passes through Haridwar city.

Our plan is that they should feel drawn to spend a night in Haridwar and experience the culture and ethos of the place. For all this, an infrastructure upgradation is the need of the hour. At the same time, lots of stories need to be told to tourists. We have commenced work on both the soft components and the infrastructure projects as well. Our vision is broad and the plan is to bring transformation in Haridwar.

What are the focus areas for the proposed transformation of Haridwar?

Our focus areas include security, city surveillance and crowd management, traffic management, transport and mobility, solid waste management, infrastructure development, amusement attractions like sound and light show, science museums, and Uttarakhand culture museums. The objective is to create an environment for holistic development as well as improve the quality of services being rendered to citizens of Haridwar and larger set of population visiting this holy city. At the same time, we want to incorporate best practices of Kumbh Cities like Ujjain, Allahabad and Nashik.

Would you leverage technological innovations to implement this plan?

Capital, labour and technology – it takes these three components to bring transformation. Haridwar cannot be an exception. Technology is the biggest game-changer. Think about the mobile phone. About 10-15 years ago, it was a luxury. And, in today’s world one just cannot live without a mobile phone. It is doing most of our works. In terms of governance too, technology is helping us in a big way to ensure delivery of services. In the digital age, having data and analysis of data has become paramount for the success of governance. We are going to deploy technology quite effectively for overhaul of Haridwar.

In terms of attracting investors and companies to invest in Haridwar for Maha Kumbh, what is your USP?

Brand name, visibility and number of footfalls — this is quite a package to attract industry to be a part of Haridwar’s development process for Maha Kumbh. If we talk about footfalls, crores of devotees across India and tourists from world over will be here in Haridwar for the occasion. Think about the visibility a company will get when crores of people will be witnessing their work in Haridwar. Think about the sheer volume. It brings opportunity for replication for any project done by any company here. We will provide that opportunity to our industry partners. I will go to that extend to compare opportunities of Haridwar for Maha Kumbh with that of organising the Olympic Games or the World improve the quality of services being rendered to citizens of Haridwar and larger set of population visiting this holy city. At the same time, we want to incorporate best practices of Kumbh Cities like Ujjain, Allahabad and Nashik.

Would you leverage technological innovations to implement this plan?

Capital, labour and technology – it takes these three components to bring transformation. Haridwar cannot be an exception. Technology is the biggest game-changer. Think about the mobile phone. About 10-15 years ago, it was a luxury. And, in today’s world one just cannot live without a mobile phone. It is doing most of our works. In terms of governance too, technology is helping us in a big way to ensure delivery of services. In the digital age, having data and analysis of data has become paramount for the success of governance. We are going to deploy technology quite effectively for overhaul of Haridwar.

In terms of attracting investors and companies to invest in Haridwar for Maha Kumbh, what is your USP?

Brand name, visibility and number of footfalls — this is quite a package to attract industry to be a part of Haridwar’s development process for Maha Kumbh. If we talk about footfalls, crores of devotees across India and tourists from world over will be here in Haridwar for the occasion. Think about the visibility a company will get when crores of people will be witnessing their work in Haridwar. Think about the sheer volume. It brings opportunity for replication for any project done by any company here. We will provide that opportunity to our industry partners. I will go to that extend to compare opportunities of Haridwar for Maha Kumbh with that of organising the Olympic Games or the World Cup Football. That is the scale of opportunity for companies here. Some of the projects will be funded by the government in which we will look for appropriate agencies to execute it

. For some, we will look for CSR (corporate social responsibility) funding and in some, we will look for in-house funding by companies in which we will ensure effective visibility for them. We can follow the development path taken by Varanasi administration where some projects have been done through CSR funds and some by the corporate on their own. Companies should realise that any good work done in Haridwar for Maha Kumbh will get them huge publicity and will earn them lots of accolades which can be replicated at other places in future.

The Government of Uttarakhand also aspires to ensure it also emerges as a ‘Cashless Kumbh’. How can fintech companies or banks leverage this opportunity?

The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttarakhand are ensuring development through landmark ‘Digital India’ programme. It is Hon’ble Chief Minister’s vision to promote digital transactions more and more during Kumbh. In order to do that, Cashless Kumbh will be a right step in that direction. We would like to partner with vendors, service providers and fintech companies who all can ensure digital mode of payments in an effective manner. Giving donations can be done digitally too. We also want to monitor amount of digital transactions taking place and its beneficiaries for future references. We want to capture data, use that data for knowledge and leverage that knowledge to improve our services.

What is your vision for Haridwar with regards to Maha Kumbh?

The entire world will be looking at Haridwar during Maha Kumbh 2021 and the team has to deliver. Even in past Kumbhs in Haridwar, lots of infrastructures were created and they have served as well throughout the years during various religious occasions. We feel that lot of projects can be now taken up for Haridwar’s transformation on a priority basis. We are planning to develop a Ring Road across Haridwar. It can ease out the whole traffic being experienced by citizens in Haridwar at present. Places of tourist attractions have been planned too. Maha Kumbh brings the opportunity for Haridwar to receive the adequate funds from the government, necessary to carry on massive developmental projects. For me, Maha Kumbh 2021 will be the watershed moment for Haridwar in terms of complete urban overhaul.

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