With Nashik having an infrastructure adequate to attract investments, its residents are going to play a significant role in making the city smarter, says Mahesh Zagade, Divisional Commissioner, Nashik, Government of Maharashtra, in conversation with Harshal Desai of Elets News Network (ENN).
What is the need of Smart Cities in a growing economy like India?
We have witnessed turbo urbanisation in the second half of the 20th century. People are congregating and it is projected that by 2050 about 75 per cent of world population will move to urban neighbourhoods. The figure is likely to increase to about 80 per cent by 2100. There are two phenomena which contribute to the urbanisation. First is the natural growth of cities and second is the migration from rural areas to urban areas. The pace of migration is very high in India, China and Africa. As per some reports, there are 50 centres or zones which will witness dramatic urbanisation. In India, we have two such centres in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Mumbai-Pune-Nashik axis. With the increasing density, we need smarter solutions to handle the population so that we all can live a healthy and happy life. Smart planning and smart management are the need of the hour. We also need smartness in every economic activity within the cities.
Which are the components that make a city Smart?
Internationally, there is an urban standard called ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) 37120 which defines and establishes methodologies for a set of indicators to steer and measure the performance of city services and quality of life. This standard can be applicable to any municipality or local Government. The focus, however, may be different for different bodies. I believe there are couple of components which are very essential-the first being sustainable economic activities. A city can never be smart unless it has proper mechanism where people can earn handsomely. The planners of Smart Cities must pay maximum attention to this element. Further, we need to focus on ensuring increased happiness index. It is a broader term and includes “ease of everything” – where people have access to all the basic services by default. Services like enough water availability and power supply, a swift and safe transportation mechanism, cleanliness, robust education and healthcare infrastructure and most importantly, an easy access to Government and its services should be made available.
We have to retrofit old cities and, at the same time, pay much attention to future development of urban areas.
Can Nashik boast of a robust infrastructure at present?
I believe Nashik has an infrastructure which is adequate to attract investments. We, however, will need to spend in building infrastructure so that investments keep pouring in.
How can citizens contribute to the development of their cities?
Citizens are going to play a significant role in making cities smarter. We need to keep involving them to understand their requirements. Municipal Corporations and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) must keep seeking their inputs so as to ensure successful implantation of the smart initiatives. It is understood that every citizen has an individual thought process. But by engaging citizens we can shortlist our priorities. We have great responsibility to educate our masses and keep them informed.
What are the areas Nashik Municipal Corporation is focussing on? What are your plans to develop Nashik as a tourist city?
I have always believed in focussing on all-round development of any city. Tourism is an area of focus for us. We have identified some locations which we believe will boost tourism in the city. We are also making efforts to streamline the agriculture sector and ensure farmers earn enough money in their villages so that the need to move towards urban locations does not arise. Streamlining education and healthcare system are other areas which we are working on currently.
As the head of newly formed Nashik Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (NMRDA), what plans do you have in the pipeline?
We are going to focus on wealth creation within the city. We will be focussing on sustainable job creations. We will make efforts to increase the Happiness Index and Liveable Index. None of the Indian cities has ever been rated in top 100 liveable cities across the world. We are determined to increase the liveable index of Nashik and bring it among the best in the world. Further, we are also planning to have least energy intensity per capita. It is again, a very broad term, where would actually like to bring down the carbon emission. We would like to promote public transport and will contribute towards making Nashik a future-ready city. We will be using advanced technologies including cognitive analysis, automation, information technology to go beyond e-governance.
What message would you like to give it to the young IAS officers?
Create your administrative personality which is free from any undue fear. We have excellent policies in our countries, but the level of implementation of these policies, schemes and laws could be higher and therefore we should concentrate on implementation of overall growth of the nations. We should focus on implementation part and contribute in the overall growth of the nation.