As India embarks on a journey to realise the Smart Cities dream, with a number of cities across the country all set for a technical revamp, the central Indian city of Jabalpur is next in line to experience such an overhaul. Listed as the seventh city on the first list of to-be-made smart cities, Jabalpur will start developing its suburban area of Madan Mahal, which is known for its historical Rani Durgavati Fort. Surendra Yadav, West Central Railway Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO), tells Ankur Trivedi of Elets News Network (ENN) that accordingly, Madan Mahal will be developed as a model station and a major junction for economic activity
The locality of Madan Mahal already has a small railway station with the Railways planning to model it as asatellite town in collaboration with the Madhya Pradesh government in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
According to Yadav, effective communication in the form of digital, telephonic or public transport is the precursor to the development of any smart city. Building such as technologically advanced entity is not possible in the absence of a well-organised public transport system, he noted. is should be well followed by commoners having an integrated system of hotels, taxi services, theatres, restaurant and bars, for the ful“lment of the “smart city” dream.
Yadav said that the Indian Railways can also be a signifi“cant contributor in turning Jabalpur into a Smart City even though it does not operate any metro rail. Following this, the local passenger trains can be converted to Main Line EMU (MEMU) to smoothen passenger tra“ffic once the city starts experiencing heavy footfall post becoming “smart”. For this, electri“fication of railway tracks, which is already under progress, will help develop an environment-friendly transport system. This is signi“cant as Jabalpur houses the Zonal and Divisional headquarters of the Railways, which in turn is a major contributor of economic activity. “As far as water conservation is concerned, a major component of Smart Cities Mission, our new buildings will have a water conservation system along with a mechanism to recharge ground with rain water harvest,” Yadav elaborated.
He further said that the lack of Industrial presence here has led to Railways playing a major role of economic activity in Madhya Pradesh in general and Jabalpur in particular. It is important as without economic activity, it is di“fficult for a place like Jabalpur, to build infrastructure for becoming a smart city.
Another area where railways can contribute is in harvesting greenery in and around Jabalpur, which already holds a lot of green pastures. This is being done as part of a mandate from the Forest Department to the West Central Railway to develop a green belt nearby tracks or any other spare land available. In this regard, a Memoranda of Understanding has already been signed with the Punjab and Haryana Governments with similar agreements to follow suit.
Electrification of railway tracks, which is already under progress, will help develop an environment-friendly transport system. This is significant as Jabalpur houses the Zonal and Divisional headquarters of the Railways, which in turn is a major contributor of economic activity
As the focus is likely to be shifted from Jabalpur to Madan Mahal as a centre of major business activities, the Railways have also planned to develop a sport stadium around the area along with the redevelopment of the Jabalpur station.
The Railways have also contributed to philanthropic activities like photography, theatre etc. apart from the distribution of LED bulbs which was started across Madhya Pradesh on April 30. This was a follow-up of a power saving activity by the Jabalpur Railways Department for creating a green environment.
The resources of water and greenery can be found in ample amounts in Jabalpur. But the million dollar question is how to rightly preserve them for future-use. In this regard, the city is blessed with three national parks with an abundantly-fi“lled River Narmada. If both the resources are suitably used, Jabalpur can become one of the best Smart Cities of India.
Gauri Ghat, which is on the bank of Narmada river, is to be developed by the Jabalpur Municipal Corporation and is under the Smart City plan. The Ghat is to be developed as one of the biggest pilgrimage centres, apart from a tourism spot in MP. A pucca road is also getting constructed to connect the city from that place.
The connectivity is further expected to be consolidated in the future if the city gets connected with Nagpur in Maharashtra through the broad gauge system of railway tracks. The work is in progress and once completed, the ow of business activity from east to west will become easy making Jabalpur reap its benefit in the long run.
Not only this, the system will also connect the eastern and southern Railways to make Jabalpur a likely ideal hub for IT industry.
The Railways have also handed over one of its crossings to the local civic body, which will be developed as the biggest intersection (plaza) of the city.