Chandigarh is an epitome of Urban Transformation Model and acts as one of the crucial case studies for the Urban Planners and Architects across the world. The city founded in the foothills of Shivalik range right after India gained independence is the first and still one of the best planned cities in the country. Priya Yadav and Sreetama Datta of Elets News Network(ENN) chronicle the urban transformation of the city beautiful.
Chandigarh, also known as the city beautiful is unique in multiple ways. The Union Territory serves as the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana. Ruled by Chandigarh Administration, the city is undergoing rapid urbanisation and the transformation has been holistic and all-inclusive.
Chandigarh is one of the first planned cities of India and also enjoys a unique geographical advantage of being located at the foothills of the Shivaliks. Also, the location gives an easy connectivity to the major states of North India, namely, the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh. It is indeed not hard to guess that Chandigarh is the hub of investments.
It is one of the greenest cities of India with 1,400 green belts, parks and gardens. According to the Chandigarh Administration, the high profile services provided by the Chandigarh Administration and the Municipal Corporation are a role model for other urban cities.
INCEPTION OF THE CITY BEAUTIFUL
In the year 1948, the Government of Punjab and Government of India approved a 114.59 Sq.Kms.tract of land selected by Dr MS Randhawa, the then Deputy Commissioner of Ambala, as the new capital. The location of the site was a part of the erstwhile Ambala district.
The foundation stone of the Chandigarh city was laid in 1952. Subsequently, at the time of reorganisation of the state in 1967, it assumed the unique distinction of being the capital of Punjab and Haryana and was declared as a Union Territory. Consequently, Chandigarh came under the direct control of the Central Government.
As Manoj Kumar Parida, Advisor to the Administrator, Union Territory of Chandigarh says, “Chandigarh was planned in 1949 but started late in 1960s. The advantage of starting late on a project is that you can get access to better technologies in the market. It started like a Greenfield project. Best architects were brought to the city from all over the world; one of whom was the French architect Le Corbusier, a pioneer of modern architecture. Apart from him, there were some American partners and local experts as well. They came with the best technologies, selected the best locations and talents, keeping in mind the western knowledge and the Indian ambiance and cultural needs.”
HOW THE CITY PLANNING MADE CHANDIGARH STAND OUT
The city’s architects gave a unique touch to Chandigarh by making the master plan of the city similar to that of the human body or anatomy. While the head is defined with Sector 1, housing the Capitol Complex, the heart is signified with Sector 17, with the City Centre. The lungs are considered to be greeneries across the city including the leisure valley, innumerable open spaces, and sector-wise gardens.
On the other hand, the intellect, circulatory system, and the viscera are signified with the cultural and educational institutes, road networks, and industries respectively.
The official emblem of Chandigarh, the open hand symbolises the city’s philosophy of ‘open to give’ and ‘open to receive’.
INTEGRATED ROAD NETWORK
Another unique feature of Chandigarh is the well connected and integrated road network, which are laid in accordance with their functions. According to the Chandigarh Administration, an integrated system of seven roads was designed to ensure efficient traffic circulation. Le Corbusier, the chief architect of the city referred to these as the 7-Vs. The city’s vertical roads run northeast/ southwest (The ‘Paths’) and the horizontal roads run northwest/ southeast (‘The Margs’). They intersect at right angles, forming a grid of network for movement. This arrangement of road-use leads to a remarkable hierarchy of movement, which also ensures that the residential areas segregated from the noise and pollution of traffic.
Adding to it, Parida says, “A lot many factors combine to make Chandigarh unique. It remains the greenest capital of the country, and one of the most advanced and well-planned cities of India, which is why it is also called an oasis of the desert.”
As of 2011 India census, Chandigarh had a population of 1,055,450, making for a density of about 9,252 (7,900 in 2001) persons per square kilometre. Although the original infrastructure of the city was planned for a population of five lakh, the city has expanded rapidly over the past few decades and faced challenges of the proliferation of slums, waste disposal and garbage, traffic congestion among others.
“unique feature of Chandigarh is the well connected and integrated road network, which are laid in accordance with their functions. According to the Chandigarh Administration, an integrated system of seven roads was designed to ensure efficient traffic circulation.”
However, the Chandigarh Administration and Chandigarh Municipal Corporation are taking optimum measures to address these issues. The challenge areas, as stated by Parida include traffic congestion, transport, and housing. He says, “A major challenge for Chandigarh is the traffic congestion. Whatever little pollution we have does not have any industrial source; it is only vehicular and dust pollution.” He also adds, “Housing is another area of concern for Chandigarh. The carrying capacity of Chandigarh is ideally 10 lakh and we have already reached 12 lakh.”
INITIATIVES BY THE CHANDIGARH ADMINISTRATION AND CHANDIGARH MUNICIPAL CORPORATION
To tackle the traffic congestion, Chandigarh Administration is constructing an outer ring road where people coming mostly from the NCT or Haryana and going to Himachal Pradesh do not have to enter Chandigarh. “This project is almost in the final stage and will be completed soon. Another ring road will be constructed after this in which the people coming from Delhi can bypass Chandigarh from even further away,” says Parida.
To maintain the sustainable and resilient nature of Chandigarh, the Chandigarh Administration and the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation have launched the following initiatives.
Banning Single-Use Plastic – The Chandigarh Administration has banned single-use plastic. The environment department has banned 11 categories of single-use plastic, with provisions to imprison and fine the defaulters. The notification has been issued under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The notification states that using, storing, purchasing, dealing with or distributing plastic bags, plates, glasses, and such allied items are prohibited.
Water Management – There are two aspects of water management, ensuring 24*7 water supply and treating wastewater and recycling it. Kamal Kishor Yadav, Commissioner, Chandigarh Municipal Corporation says, “A pilot project has been taken up in which we will be installing a 24*7 water supply system along with smart water.
The second aspect of this water management is the treatment of the sewage for which the Municipal Chandigarh Administration and Smart City have started work on the upgrading of five Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and construction of one new STP. The recycled water is further used for irrigation and industrial usage.
Waste Management – Under the waste management project, Chandigarh Municipal Corporation along with Chandigarh Smart City is constructing three material recovery and transfer stations. “We are also purchasing vehicles for door-to-door garbage collections in order to ensure the practice of holistic waste management. Apart from this we also have a legacy dump of garbage and the work has been started on the site for clearing this dump,” states Narinder Pal Sharma, General Manager, Chandigarh Smart City Limited (CSCL).
Technology-enabled security system – IT is utilised in a big way in order to enable the surveillance system and ensure an Integrated Command and Control System (ICCC) and Integrated Traffic Management System (ITMS).
Throwing light on this, Yadav says, “We have started the implementation of Information Technology (IT) for better service delivery and better management of our resources, traffic, co-ordination between different departments and wings of the administration. The work on an Integrated Command and Control has already started.”
Energy Conservation – Solar energy powered LED lamps have been installed on the streets of Chandigarh in place of street lights to conserve electricity and reduce power consumption.
Integrated Child Development Services – Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme enables the provision of food to infants. Through the midday meal programme, school children are given food. Several private organisations or NGOs come and give food to infants and children to ensure the basic nutrition level required for their growth and development. These organisations are selected through tenders filed by them.
Urban Transport Model – Another major project which will come up is this urban transport model in the Chandigarh Smart City. We are going to install cameras all over the city. We are already very strict on traffic violations which will continue to be. Parida says, “We are also thinking of introducing a large number of electric mini buses to decrease the usage of private vehicles among the residents.”
“The foundation stone of the Chandigarh city was laid in 1952. Subsequently, at the time of reorganisation of the state in 1967, it assumed the unique distinction of being the capital of Punjab and Haryana and was declared as a Union Territory. Consequently, Chandigarh came under the direct control of the Central Government.”
Public Bike Sharing System Public bike-sharing system and dedicated cycle tracks for clean and green environment are being implemented.
Sharma says, “Within the public bike-sharing system, we will allocate as many as 5,000 cycles. This would be one of the biggest projects in India in terms of public bike-sharing in the mobility sector. We intend to ensure last-mile connectivity. I have personally chosen each cycle station site. The bicycles used within the project are hybrid cycles.”
MAKING CHANDIGARH SMART CITY A PEOPLE’S CITY
In a bid to engage with the people of Chandigarh, Chandigarh Smart City Limited has started a Fellowship to ensure citizen involvement. As Yadav puts it, “We involved citizens to solve the problems and take the decisions for the same in the most creative and constructive way. We did a lot of activities in the last few months. This helped us in creating a new strategy for engagement by the public.”