Rourkela — the Steel City, which is one among the 98 cities selected for the Smart Cities Challenge, is ready for the second round of challenge, says Akshaya Kumar Mallick, the Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) Commissioner. Mallick may be just two months old at the current office, but he is quite positive about Rourkela’s performance in the upcoming round. In an interview with Namita Panda of Elets News Network (ENN), he shares plans for ‘Rourkela Smart City
What are the steps taken to ensure Rourkela makes it to the next round of the Smart Cities Challenge?
We have entrusted the job of making a smart city proposal (SCP) for Rourkela to Deloitte with technical assistance from the UK-based Department for International Development (DFID).
We have had three high-level meetings at the state government level to help us and guide with the smart city questionnaire, which is part of the challenge. The five-block Area Wise Development (AWD) plan has been drawn for sewerage and solid waste management (SWM), water supply and 24×7 availability of electricity.
Rourkela had missed out in the first round. What is the approach this time?
The main motive is to encourage bottom-up planning approach to overcome the flaws of the first round of the SCP planning and development process through the four pillars of comprehensive development — institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure — using smart solutions, innovative ideas and technologies. More awareness has been generated among citizens, students, youth, professionals, stakeholders and associations to get connected digitally and associate in the planning process through their suggestions.
“Over 10,000 people have already sent in their opinion on the mygov.in portal for the second phase. Similarly, we have thousands of likes and posts on Facebook, too. Most have wished for a greener environment and citizen-friendly roads”
How important a role does ICT play in getting ready for a smart future for Rourkela?
The entire smart city concept is based on strengthening ICT and reaching out to people through technology. ICT is critical to designing a smart city because citizen participation through online forums is the key to planning a livable space for them. That is why we have enabled various online platforms for people to participate and give their views, opinion and share ideas with us through Facebook, mygov.in portal, e-mails and so on.
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How has the response been from people as far as participation online is concerned?
Over 10,000 people have already sent in their opinion on the mygov.in portal for the second phase. Similarly, we have thousands of likes and posts on Facebook, too. We have also received some very interesting and significant inputs from the citizens. Most have wished for a greener environment and citizenfriendly roads.
What are the initiatives for children and senior citizens in the SCP?
We are already coming up with 17 parks and recreation centres for children and senior citizens under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme. Children are at the centre of our vision for Rourkela Smart City, and the proposals have been designed keeping in mind their safety and freedom. We also host “Road Mania” every Sunday and invite various local clubs and NGOs that involve children and encourage sports and other activities. Similarly, the city will be redesigned into a friendly place for senior citizens, providing navigable roads and accessible assistance.
Is the Steel City ready to be a Smart City? What are the likely challenges that the Rourkela Municipal Corporation may face when it comes to execution of the drafted proposals?
We had ranked 46th in the list of 98 cities. Rourkela is already a wellstructured city since it was a planned city since the very beginning. We are planning to bring in 40 wards as part of the smart city plan. With 115 slums, it will definitely be challenging to build technological infrastructure while ensuring inclusive growth for all. But the proposal is all about making the execution easier. We have already developed apps for people’s participation in the Rourkela Municipal Corporation’s activities and also for “Swachh Rourkela” under Swachh Bharat programme.