Cities Evolving Resilience with Time: Dr Kajal

Dr Kajal, Director, ULBs, Government of Uttar Pradesh

Elets Technomedia organised a three-day India Transformation Summit to bring India growth and development in the spotlight. Dr Kajal, Director, Urban Local Bodies and Mission Director, Smart Cities Mission, Government of Uttar Pradesh addressed the summit on ‘role of urban development and smart cities mission in transforming India’.

Dr Kajal commenced her address by saying, “The Coronavirus outbreak has given us an opportunity to innovate rapidly. Also, it has impacted our lifestyle in a big way… There is a shift to a newer phase where things are more online, offices are working digitally and more.” There are a lot of things that were needed to be done like preparing COVID war rooms out of the integrated command and control centres (ICCCs), active monitoring, upgrading healthcare, tracking and tracing applications, mapping of the hotspots. There is an evolution which could be observed in this COVID phase considering the disaster preparedness and response, she added.

Adding on to the impact of the COVID pandemic, Dr Kajal said, “The pandemic was an unprecedented crisis. However, following the onset of the pandemic, the transformation in not just technology but the lifestyle, service delivery, social fabric and in almost every aspect is visible.” Systems have evolved with leaps and bounds within a few months. Today we have systems like smart traffic signals which detect any violation of the traffic norms and generates a challan automatically which the defaulter can pay via online modes. Such technologies are the upcoming normal. The pandemic has impacted political, economic, social, and almost every sphere added Dr Kajal.

Answering a question on how the COVID pandemic has impacted the mobility and transportation in cities, Dr Kajal explained, “Definitely, the pandemic has impacted the mobility to a greater extent. However,  in the long term, this is a fact that things cannot be brought to a standstill, hence the mobility will resume. But, there has to be proper planning from both the government’s side as well as the citizens’ side before resuming public transport.”

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“People need to take precautions whenever stepping out of their houses. However, one should ensure that venturing out should be for an urgent work or only when required. Also, physical distancing norms need to be followed. Whereas from the government’s side it is important to make sure that the timings are restricted, also congestion in buses must be avoided”, told Dr Kajal.

Further, speaking on the smart cities mission progress and impact of the pandemic on the mission works, Dr Kajal said, “Smart Cities has come up as a brilliant concept especially during the COVID pandemic the use of ICCCs and other smart initiatives were evident to show the significance of the mission. However, when it comes to progress we are evolving with time. The pandemic has put to test the tech, infrastructure, resilience, laws & policies, and other initiatives taken under the mission… In general, while working on the smart cities the core focus has been on bringing in advanced and better technologies to improve the functioning and to improve the liveability in cities. With these initiatives, service delivery has also been improved and further development is on the way.” At present, the resilience of cities has been put to a major test with the onset of the pandemic. And, the cities are developing and evolving with the growing risks and disaster or pandemics like COVID for a safer future, she added.