INTERVIEW WITH A SHANKAR MRICS
What has been your past experience of Preparation of City Development Plan/ Smart City plan (globally)/Town Planning Scheme/ etc. for cities(Indian or overseas)
We were involved in works such as
a. Smart Solutions in GIFT Smart City in Gujarat, Ibaraki Smart Community Project near Osaka, Master Plan Support for Saadiyat Island, Masdar City, Masdar Master Plan & Strategy Review Study, Abu Dhabi UAE
b. Regeneration plan / Renewal of Melbourne Docklands and Rail Yards, Development Plan of Canary Wharf, London, Comprehensive Redevelopment of Silvertown Way East London, Development of New Metropolitan Centre, Stratford City, London, Master Plan Vision for Dubai Metro Project, Redevelopment of Navy Pier, Inc. , Chicago, IIIinios, Master Planning of Harlow North, Master Plan of Canning Town, London etc.
c. Urban Redevelopment Plan for T Nagar in Chennai, Tourism Master Plan for Shimoga District, Development of Beach Promenade at Puducherry, Development of Pedestrian Plaza in T Nagar in Chennai, Improvement Plan for Bus Terminal in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, Development Plans for Integrated Bus Stand at Tiruchirapalli, Srirangam and Karur
d. Development Plans for Satellite TownshipinMadurai, Infrastructure Planning for Saint Sri Ramanujur’s Birth Place in Sriperumbudur, Infrastructure Planning for Courtallam, Tamil Nadu, Development of Rural Tourism Cluster in Tamil Nadu
e. Redevelopment and Modernization of 7 Railway Stations in Colombo, Colombo Port City Development,
What were the key takeaways in your past projects undertaken for city development?
Indian city faces various challenges right from increasing populations, lack of physical and social infrastructure, environmental and regulatory requirements, tax concern and budgets and increased costs. At the same time identifying new and smart solutions to manage the complexity of urban living; and ways to target problems ranging from pollution, overcrowding and sprawl to inadequate housing, high unemployment, resource management, environmental protection and rising crime rates.
a. We strongly believe any city should have a vision and mission with steps / goals to achieve this. Visioning exercise is an important and integral part of city development consulting.
b. People’s participation is the key to a successful city development plan. Earlier we had involved in city development process by including citizens of the city in the various forms of engagement. Their views and opinions are very crucial in the process of development of the city. However, the involvement and pro activeness of the urban local body play vital role in success of these projects.
c. Proper assessment of the existing issues in terms of city infrastructure is another important factor where the consultant’s role is vital. The assessment should be rated based on the various parameters such as carrying capacity, quantum, demand forecast, perception of the end users, innovative implementation strategies, resource mobilisation etc
What basic concepts/broad guidelines would you work on to help develop your city into a smart city?
Basic objectives for development of smart city includes providing basic infrastructure, improving quality of life with clean and sustainable environment, applying smart solutions and set examples to be replicated both within and outside the smart city and catalyse the creation of similar smart cities across India.Smart City should help in developing all infrastructures, human resources, industries, technologies, educations, health and medical, banking and finance, retails, tourism and heritage places, art and culture, natural resources utilization
There should be an increase opportunity for domestic investors, foreign investors, developers, buyers, industrialists, employers etc and should lead to Investor friendly policies will help attracting huge FDI. Since increase in investment, rise in tourism, rise in employment, expansion of industries/ corporates will lead to higher GDP contribution from smart cities.Cost reduction by approaching smarter initiatives in sectors such as transportation, energy, water, security etc. Lot of jobs need to be created around the city and increased revenue generation to state / central / local governments.
What potential operational challenges/ roadblocks do you see in implementing a smart city plan?
Though smart city program dwell on long term sustainable initiatives, the implementation of such solutions is little expensive due to high initial investment. Hence, one of the aspects to recover these costs may be by increasing the property tax and other levies payable by the citizens like user charges.
Financing smart city development is a big challenge & has to be self sustainable. You views and plans to address the same?
The execution of projects may be done through joint ventures, subsidiaries, public-private partnership (PPP), turnkey contracts, etc. suitably dovetailed with revenue streams so that the financial burden on ULBs are very limited.
What all will be detailed ina city’s smart city proposal to be presented in the bloomberg’sCity challenge?
The Smart City Proposal (SCP) will outline the consultations held with the city residents and other stakeholders with a vision for the Smart City which should emerge from the needs, aspirations and wishes of the local people to make their city offering more to live better life. The Proposal will mainly cover the Area based development from the given model of retrofitting or redevelopment or greenfield development or a mix thereof Smart City Solutions and additionally include Pan-City dimension with Smart Solutions.
When are the tenders of each city expected to be out (for various services like technology, civil works, infrastructure development, etc.)
The primary task is to help the city qualify itself as one of the top 20 cities in India so as to make it eligible for receiving the government grant in this fiscal year FY 15-16 towards smart city implementation programme. The tenders for various other activities are hence likely to be floated in the next fiscal year of FY 16-17.
Please feel free to add more questions as you feel necessary.
The concept of smart cities has its challenges, especially in India. For instance, the success of such a city depends on residents, entrepreneurs and visitors becoming actively involved in energy saving and implementation of new technologies. There are many ways to make residential, commercial and public spaces sustainable by ways of technology, but a high percentage of the total energy use is still in the hands of end users and their behaviour. The real challenge before the Government is to build inclusive smart cities for all its residents, irrespective of whether they are rich or poor. In a country like India, the process of making a city smart should be people centric. The idea should be to make cities work for the people.