Smart City Initiatives Transforming India’s Urban Landscape: Raj Cherubal

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Raj Cherubal

As smart cities mission have played a pivotal role in India’s transformation and have helped to make Indian smart cities connected, resilient and citizen-centric. Addressing the growth and development, Elets Technomedia organised India Transformation Summit and Raj Cherubal, Chief Executive Officer, Chennai Smart City Ltd, delivered his address on ‘ Innovations in ULBs: Future of Urban Governance’.

Mr Cherubal began his address in a note that there is a need for us to leapfrog as all of us at some point or the other agree that our cities are in pretty bad shape. He said, “India has a long way to go when compared to even the second world countries… Innovations are much needed in various spheres because of our limited resources.”

On initiatives taken in Chennai, Mr Cherubal said, “Some of the innovations like citywide parking management system like we have in Chennai is a good example. So we have cameras, artificial intelligence and so on in this system. So the system guides you to a spot nearby wherever a parking space is available. Also, payments can be done electronically. However, more than technology what is important is the organised parking of private vehicles in the city and the project is completely on PPP mode.” The parking management system is very effective but it is tough to implement, he added.

Considering COVID and post-COVID eras when there is a crunch of funds for the urban administration, parking is an are which the authorities are tapping as it is very much required and pose a source of income, told Mr Cherubal.

Speaking on smart cities mission’s new cycling programme, Mr Cherubal said, “Cycle for cities has initiated by the smart cities mission which aims to create alternate transportation and also ensuring that people remain healthy.” Luckily for Chennai, a PPP based cycling system is being implemented. E-cycles are also being introduced in the system, he added.

Also Read: Private Participation, Citizen Engagement & Innovation in Finance is Needed for Municipalities: Sameer Unhale

Calling Mr KP Bakshi’s advice on water conservation, recycling and reuse ‘valuable’, Mr Cherubal said, “In Chennai, we are actively taking up a project for installation of smart water meters. There has been gaps in knowing the exact amount of water utilised by big commercial and establishments. Also, the leakage loss, non-revenue water, etc. have also created a dire need to install smart meters to keep accurate count and stats on water usage.” So the first step to correct the faults is to measure the extent of loss, he added.

Mr Cherubal, continuing on the water topic, said, “I proudly say that as we speak, Chennai is done with the restoration of over 200 water bodies. So, all the water bodies under the corporation of Chennai we have taken and we are eco-restoring these water bodies.” Such works recharge groundwater effectively which is the most important aspect. Also, wells are being created, especially in areas where groundwater levels have slumped, so that the rainwater can percolate down to the underground water table, he added.

While concluding his address, Mr Cherubal said, “Honestly, there are not much funds and workforce to monitor the restored waterbodies manually every day. Hence, we are trying to use CCTVs, drones and satellite imaging to monitor the water bodies regularly.” This is expected to resolve Chennai’s water woes. Similar steps are being taken to monitor footpaths and public areas which are vulnerable to encroachments.

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