Interview

e-Governance and Tourism: The two-way approach for Jodhpur’s Development

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Gaurav Agrawal, Commissioner, Ajmer Development Authority

A lot of projects have been planned for the city, both from an infrastructural point of view, as well as from a tourism point of view. We plan to provide basic amenities like affordable housing, open spaces and parks to the city, says Gaurav Agrawal, Commissioner, Ajmer Development Authority, in an exclusive interview with Kartik Sharma and Mansi Singh of Elets News Network (ENN). (Agrawal was serving as the Commissioner of Jodhpur Development Authority when this interview was conducted.)

How you are leveraging IT and implementing e-governance in the urban development of Jodhpur?

IT and e-governance are a very important part of governing things well, improving office management, and delivering better services to consumers. We have undertaken quite a few projects for improving our e-governance.

First, we started with a File Tracking System (FTS). We put all the metadata part of the files online on FTS and then we record all the file movements into it. When a file moves from person A to person B, it is recorded in the system and a pendency report is generated. Now anybody on the planet can see the pending status of files at Jodhpur Development Authority (JoDA) and details of the person handling the files through their mobile phones. That creates a sort of accountability and transparency.

Second, we had this single window where we offer seven to eight kinds of services. Within this, anybody who puts in an application eventually finds its way to a file. Besides, we have now seeded all the applications that are received on a single window on the FTS. So that the applicants get a single-window ID and through our website, they can track the entire movement of their application. That saves a lot of time and money for them, and it pushes the system.

Also, we are going to make our entire office paperless by passing a regulation that will make entry or circulation of papers illegal in our office. All our files would be uploaded online and everything would be visible to the concerned applicant. This would bring the highest levels of transparency and accountability.

“IT and e-governance are a very important part of governing things well, improving office management, and delivering better services to consumers. We have undertaken quite a few projects for improving our e-governance.”

Which are the upcoming projects of JoDA and how are you strategising for them?

A lot of projects have been planned for the city, both from an infrastructural point of view, as well as from a tourism point of view. We plan to provide basic amenities like affordable housing, open spaces and parks to the city. Three of the projects have been announced by our Chief Minister in his State Budget speech. First is the elevated road from Patwar circle to Akhaliya circle which is about six and a quarter kilo metres long. It will ease traffic in the already congested city.

The second project is construction of a drain and a 100 feet road from Saran Nagar to Banar bypass. This will be around nine-and-a-half kilo metres in length. The area is facing waterlogging issues, a lot of which is rain-water. The third big project is Jojari riverfront development project. It is not a perennial river but an outlet for all the wastewater in the city. We are going to treat that water and make it bath-able. Then we have another drain coming up, it’s in the pipeline, it’s called Bhairav-Nala. It will start from around east Pal and will go into the Jojari River.

Other than that, we have taken uproad reconstruction work in the city in a major way, in the city municipal limits area, as well as other major roads. There is a long list. There would be a lot more, I may be missing on some.

What is the vision of JoDA to develop high tech urban infrastructure like convention centres, etc in Jodhpur?

We have planned a convention centre in Vivek Vihar area. It was supposed to be built in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode but unfortunately, we did not receive much response after floating the tenders. We are in the process of re-structuring and rationalising the project, after which we will re-float it. We are hopeful with the increased flight connectivity, that it will be a success this time.

What are your plans towards sports infrastructure development?

Our focus is to give a facelift and upgrade the Barkatullah Khan stadium. We are building a mini cricket ground at the Gaushala stadium, which has a very good sporting infrastructure. We have already built a gymnasium there. Besides, we are renovating a swimming pool and re-building the badminton court. Other than that, in Ambedkar stadium also, we have sports development works lined up.

Earlier in Barkatulla Khan Stadium, rates were very high, because of which it was not used much by the Jodhpur citizens. Now, we have rationalised the rates and reduced them by around 50 percent. A stadium is not supposed to be kept under lock and key, but should be used.

“In terms of tourist friendliness, we are going to develop some additional tourist points. It is likely that with the increased number of tourist destinations, they will prolong their stay and ultimately it will benefit tourism in the city.”

What are you doing to make Jodhpur more citizen or tourist friendly?

In terms of tourist friendliness, we are going to develop some additional tourist points. Around the Kaylana Lake, we will build a jogging and cycling track, so that the tourist footfall increases there. Another beautiful place here is Surpura Dam. Until now it was unutilised. We are going to build a wax museum there, which will be the first of its kind in Jodhpur.

Another major tourist attraction now is the Ganesh Mandir where we have spent Rs 7.5 crore. We have built a beautiful park there with a musical fountain, thereby uplifting the entire infrastructure.

Another major work is Umaid Udyan. Work has started there for the complete uplifting of the park. It is in the centre of the city. We are going to plant around 400 different species of plant and trees there.

JoDA is also working on building an amphitheatre in Ashok Udyan. Phase-II will be taken up pretty soon and after that, we hope to have some nice dramatics and plays, events over there. All of these things will increase the tourist footfall here. It is likely that with the increased number of tourist destinations, they will prolong their stay and ultimately it will benefit tourism in the city.

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