Mobility, retrofitting, IT-enabled municipal service delivery, solid waste management and efficient healthcare facilities have emerged as some of the key focus areas of the smart city mission for Panaji, writes Nirmal Anshu Rajan of Elets News Network (ENN)
As the buzz of “Smart City” goes around, the first question to strike the mind is: what defines a smart city? The answer is simple and straight that there is no universally accepted definition of a smart city. It may mean different things to different people: the concept varies from nation to nation and city to city, depending on development, growth, resources and aspirations of the residents.
However, to cut the long story short, few would disagree that a smart city has conditions conducive to providing a better quality of life to its citizens.
Panaji, the capital city of the State of Goa is also the headquarters of North Goa district. It has 30 administrative wards spread over an area of 8.12 sq.km with a population of 14.59 lakh, as per the 2011 census figures. A globally acclaimed tourist hub, Panaji hosts around 600,000 domestic and 88,000 international tourists annually, with a daily floating population of 5,000- 15,000 people.
Given the figures, it looked imperative for the city to have all necessary infrastructure, including an efficient transport system, smart policing, a well regulated traffic system, adequacy of basic civic amenities, an effective solid waste management system in place, and all this while also preserving its natural surroundings and its heritage nature.
Although the “tourists’ planet” had quite a lot already in place, Panaji featuring in the second list of smart cities issued by the Centre came as a booster dose for the city. It placed the capital city of Goa among the top 13 cities selected from a list of 23 for fasttrack mode of smart city mission.
The Government, along with the team of consultants from ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives), South Asia presented the draft blueprint for the city of Panaji to the Government of India for the smart city mission. The proposal was judged on its credibility of implementation, city vision and strategy, economic and environmental impact, cost effectiveness, innovation and scalability. And, it happened.
The selection of the city could happen also because of a SWOT analysis from a synthesis of feedback received from stakeholders and focus groups in the city, from an analysis of municipal services status and civic amenities’ provision and from an understanding of the inherent economic, demographic, social and environmental conditions in the city.
Following the development, the Goa Government has designated the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC) as the body to manage and implement the smart city mission for Panaji.
As per the plan, Panaji as a smart city will have better transport infrastructure for its residents in the form of hop-on hop-off buses, pedestrian plazas, solid waste management disposal system and hopefully a better quality of life for the citizens.
Panaji’s strength lies in the fact that it has the highest per capita income in India with good intra- and interstate connectivity. It also ranks high on the Human Development Index (HDI), high literacy rate of 87 per cent (2011 census) and skilled workforce (Work Participation Rate of 42.5 per cent)
Panaji’s strength lies in the fact that it has the highest per capita income in India with good intra and inter-state connectivity. It also ranks high on the Human Development Index (HDI), high literacy rate of 87 per cent (2011 census) and skilled workforce (Work Participation Rate of 42.5 per cent). Almost 97.32 per cent of the workforce is involved in the tertiary sector, ably supporting the tourism sector, which forms the revenue backbone of the city.
As a major international tourist destination, economic growth potential is significant in Goa among all the sectors. The development of outgrowth areas, like Porvorim and Mapusa, where further growth of residential sector is possible, catering to the housing requirements of the population working in Panaji.
Panaji is well placed and equipped to transform and ensure a sustainable future with potential for adopting 24×7 water supply, LED street lighting, moving towards a zero landfill city, adopting parking policies deterring on-street parking, public transport provision, open spaces conservation and enhancing biodiversity in the city.
The city’s built heritage and its unique form are essential to retain and promote tourism as well as foster civic pride.
The Corporation of the City of Panaji, after stakeholder consultations, has decided to constitute a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), – Imagine Panaji Ltd (IPL) as a limited company under the Companies Act 2013, subject to approval from Registrar of Companies.
The State Government of Goa and the Corporation of the City of Panaji will be the promoters of the SPV, having 50:50 equity share holding. The Articles of Association governing the functioning of IPL will be defined by the Model Articles of Association by the Central Government.
IPL will be governed by a Board of Directors, consisting of a Chairman, a CEO and nine other directors consisting of various officials of the State as well Central Government.
Presence of a prominent citizen of Panaji on the board will ensure citizenconnect and two-way information flow. The person will also be a member of the city level Smart City Advisory Forum.
The Chairperson of IPL, as per Mission guidelines, will have to be appointed by the State Government and it may choose to appoint the Collector or District Magistrate, Municipal Commissioner or Chief Executive of the Urban Development Authority.
The Road Ahead
Panaji city can benefit immensely from the smart city interventions by initiating smart projects to transform the city by capitalising on its many and unique strengths and opportunities to overcome the known weaknesses and potential threats to become a lighthouse smart city that is sustainable, resilient and future ready.