The Kalyan Dombivli region is advantageously positioned to leverage economic opportunities due to its proximity to the proposed eastern freight corridor, Vasai-Alibag multi-modal corridor, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and other developments focusing on eastern MMR. Rajendra Devlekar, Mayor of Kalyan Dombivli in an interview with Kartik Sharma, Poulami Chakraborty and Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN) explains how increased logistics facilities, manufacturing activities and associated services provide the potential for Kalyan-Dombivli to emerge as a significant economic growth centre
After being selected in 98-to-be smart cities, what is the roadmap of KDMC to deliver better citizencentric services?
We can deliver better citizen-centric services in Kalyan Dombivli region if the Central Government and State Government provide us with adequate funds. The need of the region is better transport and broader roads.
The newly merged area comprising 27 villages under the KDMC vicinity has a unique potential of being developed into a growth centre. We need to build good infrastructure there. The work is in progress to identify areas where funds allocated under smart city mission would be utilized in larger public interest. We need experts and skilled people in large number to help us.
What obstacles are there in implementing the smart city plan?
Air and noise pollution levels are above recommended levels, and the presence of open municipal waste dumping site and drains leads to foul smell and unhygienic conditions in Kalyan Dombivli region. There are two rivers in the city and we have to undertake cleaning of both of them. Besides, we lack in treating and scientifically disposing 650 MT solid waste generated in the city regularly.
The city has several large natural lakes and water bodies. These have the potential of being developed into a network of public recreational areas/ green spaces and for rain water harvesting.
What is the role of public in developing a smart city?
In a city like Kalyan, where slums and chawls have mushroomed over the decades, we need a rehabilitation plan to build high-rise buildings. We have to keep in mind the basic necessities of slum dwellers.
There are many challenges to develop Kalyan Dombivli region in the lines of smart city. This region has witnessed horizontal development since year 1985 to 2010. In every nook and corner of the city, a lot of chawls, slums and jhuggis have taken place. We cannot even think of becoming smart keeping such kind of infrastructure. Hence we need big housing projects to accommodate these people.
To change the mindset of people we should initiate some big projects on water, solid waste management, etc and start implementing them.
What is your take on Swachh Bharat mission?
Taking a cue from Swachh Bharat mission, we have initiated a cleanliness campaign in Kalyan Dombivli region in the month of May with a slogan ‘Parivartan Kalyan Dombivli’. Our Prime Minister and Chief Minister are spreading awareness about Clean India and Clean Maharashtra, respectively, we are taking forward their vision by cleaning our region. Our sanitary wing is doing a good job but we need to change the habits of citizens. Littering, dumping garbage anywhere and segregation of polywaste and medical waste are a few hurdles.
What kind of technological infrastructure is needed to fuel the growth and development of Kalyan Dombivli region?
Kalyan-Dombivli has an e-gov portal for information dissemination, complaint registration and e-payment of water bills and property tax. It is observed that the outreach of the corporation to the citizens is weak. 353 connections out of 1,15,705 water connections make payments online. Further analysis revealed that e-payment in only available through “net banking” for a single banking partner and other modes of e-payments are not available. This forms the basis for upgradation of the existing system. There is also a mobile application ‘Clean KDMC’ to send pictures of the waste dumps along with geo-tagged locations.
The city has several large natural lakes and water bodies. These have the potential of being developed into a network of public recreational areas/green spaces and for rain water harvesting. Therefore, we need smart planning and execution to for day-to-day requirements including potable water, sanitation, drainage facility etc and for that we need adequate funds
What support is needed from State and Central Government?
We need adequate funds from Central Government and State Government. We also need any proven technology to be deployed by the State Government to treat solid waste in Kalyan. Our engineers are using technology to treat the drain water so that it can be used to water the plant.
Is Public Private Partnership (PPP) model useful?
PPP model is useful for sustainable development of a city. But there should be set procedure in PPP or Foreign Direct Investment. It should be time bound otherwise it is useless. Recently, we had given a proposal to foreign company worth Rs 6,000 Crore but it could not be matured. So we could not reap any benefit out of it.
What is your plan to strengthen Disaster Management?
We recently faced a disaster in MIDC. Kalyan was gripped in flood in 2005. So, we need a good team of Disaster Management to combat such calamities. If a unit of NDRF can be established in Kalyan Dombivli or Thane region, we can get quick relief from such disasters.
Your message for KDMC Smart City Summit 2016.
KDMC invites people from across the nation to showcase their best practices in the Centre and different states at KDMC Smart City Summit 2016. We will learn a lot from their experience and exchange ideas at this platform. We have raised a few demands to our Chief Minister and we are hopeful to get them fulfilled at this summit.