Smart Chandigarh empowering citizens

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Chandigarh Smart CityChandigarh is among the top cities of the country when it comes to availability and accessibility of citizen centric services. Chandigarh tops the country in digital payments transactions on per capita basis and is among India’s top five most livable cities. With more than 70 Chandigarh Smart City projects planned, the city is all set to take the citizen experience to a whole new level, writes Priya Yadav of Elets News Network (ENN).

Chandigarh is a city that constantly competes with itself. City Beautiful is not at the mercy of fancy tags doled out by central government to prove its worth. The fresh air, clean wide roads, smooth traffic and beautiful parks earn it the tag of ‘paradise’ by most people coming in, and this citizen experience is its biggest testimonial. Chandigarh Smart City Project is a step forward to sweeten more the experience by making accessible citizen services through smart applications. “We are working towards making the experience of people living in the city pleasant by integrating technology in administration so that most of the citizen services are available at the click of a button,” says Kamal Kishor Yadav, Municipal Commissioner, Chandigarh and CEO of Chandigarh Smart City Limited. So, what really is a Smart City? There is no exact definition for the concept of Smart City – it means different things to different people and varies from city to city.

In that sense, Chandigarh is already smart – given its neat layout and planned development. The vision document of Smart Cities says, “In the approach to the Smart Cities Mission, the objective is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and the idea is to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act like a light house to other aspiring cities.” The core infrastructure elements in a Smart City would include: adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation, including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing, especially for the poor, robust IT connectivity and digitalisation, good governance, especially e-governance and citizen participation, sustainable environment, safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly, and health and education. Much work has been done in the smart city project in the past one year after PMC was appointed and the company metering and up gradation of sewerage treatment plants. A total of eight projects are ready and coming up with RFPs in this November month only,” he added.

As work picks up pace on smart city projects, the UT Administration is making efforts to inculcate the habit of cashless transactions among its residents. And the response is heartening. Chandigarh tops the country in digital payments transactions on per capita basis. The city which scores 18.5 transactions per person is way ahead of all States and Union Territories. Andhra Pradesh is at the second position with 7.9 transactions on per capita basis, while Maharashtra is fourth with a score of 3.7. Not just this, Chandigarh is among top two UTs in August 2018 in Electronic Transaction Aggregation and Analysis Layer (eTaal).

Chandigarh ranks at the sixth position among all the states and UTs in terms of number of e-transactions per 1,000 people. Recently, Government of India came out with Ease of Living Index for various cities – a new concept, popular in advanced countries, which maps the livability of a city and underscores its strengths in keeping its citizens happy. Chandigarh has scored fifth position nationwide as the most livable city in the country. It scored 53.16 as against the national average of 35.6. Pune tops the chart with 58.1 followed by Navi Mumbai, Greater Mumbai and Tirupati. “The Ease of Living Index was formulated with the ultimate goal of being able to rank the cities on the quality of lives led by their citizens,” mentions the policy document of Government of India.

Social infrastructure, such as hospitals and public health services; primary and secondary schools; supporting cultural events; sporting events and emergency services create the conditions needed to promote the health and well-being of all city residents. The access to, and the reliability and quality of services available in the cities are key components for ease of living and Chandigarh has scored nationally at number four with 17.9 points out of 25. For a city to be livable, it needs to fulfill several basic conditions, the most important of which are related to the economy. The economic aspects of the Ease of Living Index include consumer markets, human capital and resources, and real-estate activities.

A city’s development is also influenced in a large measure by its informal economy. Chandigarh scores the highest points in the Economic sub-index, followed by Ajmer (Rajasthan), Kota (Rajasthan), Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Tiruppur (Tamil Nadu). A city that is easy to live in is able to provide its citizens with high quality and sustainable urban infrastructure including housing; basic services (such as water and waste water management, solid waste management; transportation and pedestrian facilities); and adequate power among others. The Ease of Living Index defines 9 distinct categories under this pillar: housing, open spaces, mixed land use, power supply, transportation and mobility, assured water supply, waste water management, solid waste management and reduced pollution. Chandigarh scored 21.24 out of 45 and is at fourth position nationally. The City Beautiful is truly emerging as a world-class city and its selection under the Smart City Mission is certainly going to give an impetus to its growth. With various projects under this ambitious urban transformation program in different stages of execution, the city has found a new energy to head towards a sustainable future where its citizens are empowered to fulfill their aspirations.

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