The concept of developing Smart Cities is not a short-term goal but long-term plan involving a detailed planning for ensuring the cities are cleaner, safer, and affordable believes Dr Manjit Singh, Principal Secretary – Local Self Government & State Mission Director – Smart City Mission & AMRUT, Government of Rajasthan, in conversation with Kartik Sharma of Elets News Network (ENN).
You have been one of the key officers working for the Government of Rajasthan with rich experience of working with several departments, how do you perceive good governance?
I have been in the services for 30 years now and, fortunately, I had the opportunities to work in several departments in various capacities including Transport, Tourism, Excise, Urban Development, and others. As far as the Urban Development Department is concerned, I have been working in this sector for almost 12 to 13 years. Rajasthan is indeed a big State. The Government of India has initiated a number of flagship programmes including the Prime Minister Awas Yojana, Swachh Bharat Mission, Smart Cities, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Transformation (AMRUT), National Urban Livelihood Mission, etc and we are trying our best to implement these schemes in the best possible manner. We are focussing on delivering the projects on time, ensuring maximum benefits to public in the State.
“The Rajasthan Government is going to spend a huge amount – about Rs 15,000 to 20,000 crores – to improve sewage treatment and water supply projects in about 100 cities in the next four to five years.”
Which department has been the most challenging one for you in career so far?
Challenges are everywhere. One should be determined to face the challenges and streamline the systems. We should have that will to perform and keep the public faith intact. When I was in the Transport Department, we had introduced online ticketing system for buses. We were the second State to implement such a project. I also got a chance to work in the Excise Department and introduced online licensing process switching over to conductor system and licensing system.
How do you envision the concept of Smart City projects in the State?
The concept of developing Smart Cities is not a short-term goal but long-term plan involving a detailed planning for ensuring the cities are cleaner, safer, and affordable. It also needs efforts to make cities suitable for different investments. We are glad that we are well on the track when it comes to implementation of the projects of making all the four cities of Rajasthan smarter. Soon, all the four cities will be better places to live with improved infrastructure, better housing, cleanliness, and waste management systems among other features. We are making efforts to make the best of Information Technology. The State of Rajasthan has been pioneer in LED-based street light project. Master Plan for all ULBs is in place. Further, we are also working on e- governance projects. Besides, we are also in the process of declaring our urban areas Open Defecation Free (ODF) in next two-to-three months. Besides, the State Government is also working on making cities cleaner with proper sewage and garbage treatment mechanism. The Rajasthan Government is going to spend a huge amount – about Rs 15,000 to 20,000 crores – in improving sewage treatment and water supply projects in about 100 cities in the next four-tofive years.
What are the challenges you face while implementing the projects?
We have several bodies involved in decision-making when it comes to the implementation of the projects. This has been one of the major challenges for us and it is everywhere, which many a times delays the work. But we try to ensure the synchronisation of these processes and make efforts to fasten the decision-making in the best possible manner.
How are you making the best of Information Technology?
In collaboration with the IT department of the State, we are implementing Smart Raj Project – an e governance project — which allows us to have online services for every Urban Local Body through single window system. There are several modules which allow us to streamline various functions like collection of property taxes, management of assets, and collection of advertisement funds. There are various services which are online and can be subscribed by people. People can seek various permissions online and save time and energy.
How crucial is the public transport to make a city smarter?
We are working on increasing the number of city buses enabled with GPS and CCTVs in major cities. The Bike Sharing Project has been one of the most innovative projects by the Rajasthan Government. We have started this project in four smart cities and they are working fine. We believe this project will ensure easy, ecofriendly and economical transportation for the people.
What are your plans to improve the conditions in other cities of Rajasthan?
We are making efforts to make every city of Rajasthan a Smart City. In the four cities, selected under the Smart Cities Mission, the rate of implementation of project will be faster, but we are not going to ignore other cities of the State. We are focused on making these cities cleaner and greener. We will ensure that all the best practices are in place in remaining cities of the State. What message would you like to give to young officers? I encourage young officers to work hard and keep taking new initiatives. Believe in yourself, be committed to your work and make every possible effort to deliver what you are supposed to deliver.