INTERVIEW WITH KUNAL KUMAR, PUNE MUNICIPAL COMMISSIONER
What according to you is Smart city?
Ans: There is no single definition of a Smart City. It means different things to different people and varies with the demography and socio-economic conditions of the city and country. It depends on the level of development, willingness to change and reform,availability of resources and ambition of its residents. For me, a smart city leverages a range of possibilities – from information technology to best practices for public policy, from pro active involvement of the private sector to generating minimal cost and sustainable solutions to the most pressing needs of its citizens. As rightly said by Hon’ble Prime Minister, a Smart City is a City which is a step or two ahead of people’s aspirations and strives to evolve with time to create distinctive quality of life for its citizens.
This is the first time government is organizing cities challenge for deploying of funds
for urban development of India. What is your opinion on it?
Ans: I welcome this change. This is a big step towards empowerment of citizens and will lead to inclusive development. Further, since the focus is on developing smart solutions, we hope to see more effective and prudent use of existing resources, cost effective and sustainable solutions to the issues that are plaguing the common man. The solutions coming out of the contest will serve as the lighthouse for similar developments in other cities not only in India, but the rest of the developing and developed world. I feel this is an innovative and effective way to leverage the intellect of the citizens and generate inclusive and intelligent solutions. This competitive mechanism would end the top-down approach, and boost our push towards people-centric urban development.
Has a consultant been appointed for preparation of Smart City proposal to be
submitted to the center for the Blomberg’s Challenge? And at what tender Value?
Ans. Yes. We have appointed Mckinsey& Co. for the same. They are one of the best consulting firms globally and possess expertise in gathering global insights and best practices; we will leverage the Mckinsey knowledge network, which is a Harvard case study in itself. We wanted our solution to be best in class and based on real, feasible and implementable ideas across the world. We are working with this goal in mind. As per the GoI guideline for Smart Cities Mission Rs. two crore will be given to each potential Smart City for preparation of SCP, thus the tender value is in tune with that amount.
Has the SPV been formed? If yes, what is its constitution?
Ans: We have not formed a smart city SPV yet. However, we are under the process of designing the SPV and are exploring innovating models that have been successfully implemented in India and across the globe.
What major challenges are being faced by your city that you wish to address
through Smart cities Initiative?
Ans: There are two fundamental ways of assessing a city’s challenges – assessing the most pressing areas for citizens and comparing gap between existing level of service delivery versus accepted levels.Based on the analysis of household survey (CDP 2041) an average citizen in Pune primarily wants solution to their transport and water issues followed by road conditions and sewage. Also keeping with the best traditions of involving citizens in the decision-making process, Pune Municipal Corporation floated a contest titled “Mazhe Swapna Smart Pune”, before being selected among the 100 Smart Cities mission to prepare the Vision for the city. The contest was launched on 14th July 2015. Citizens were invited to come and participate in the Best Smart City Idea competition and share their views on how they and the PMC could make Pune a better and smarter city.Citizens have shown huge excitement about being part of their city’s transformation and in the contest period (one month), there have been 535310 hits to the contest page, and 6251 have participated in the survey. The results show that Traffic/ transport management, Garbage management/sanitation&Environment are the top three concerns of the citizen.Quantitative benchmarking of Pune with global service standards reveal Pune has serious service delivery gaps in transport and housing, though it fares well in most of other metrics such as Water Supply, Sanitation Solid Waste Management etc. Putting both these lenses together clearly highlights that while Pune is at a relatively advanced stages on a number of core urban services, it needs to make a big push on urban mobility & water management.
How much estimated funds are required for Smart city Development of your city?
And is the amount allocated by Center sufficient?
Ans: The total funding for this will be Rs.1,000 crore, 500 crore will come from the Center and the rest from the State. We plan to use this corpus as equity and seed fund to raise capital for both pan-city and local area development initiatives.Large global cities spend ~USD 300 per capita on civic infrastructure every year. Pune, in comparison spends USD ~90 per year. Therefore our spend needs to increase by 4-5 times. The good news is that because of the business dynamism and agglomeration benefits cities offer, they are typically able to raise almost 80% of the funding requirement from their own resources.
From where are the balance funds expected to be raised?
Ans: Cities have 4 major sources of funding – land monetization, debt and PPP, Govt.support and property tax and user charges – and they need to leverage all these four sources to make a city economically viable.
What financial impact will Smart City development bring to its citizens? Will the
cost of living increase?
Ans: As I mentioned earlier, Smart city development will aim for solutions which reduce existing costs and optimize the utilization of resources using the best in class techniques of digital innovations and information technology. The focus will be on a more equitable distribution of resources and bringing positive change to lives of each and every citizen of Pune – more job opportunities, development of skills, healthier environment, cheaper transport, focus on health and fitness, better housing and other infrastructure. When we save resources using smart solutions, we will see only an improvement in the cost of living index.
Which locality/ areas are you considering for Smart City Development(of Retrofitting/Redevelopment/Greenfield)
Ans: We are looking at areas greater than 500 acres that can be used for retrofitting. As of now we are looking at the entire city and discussing with citizens, experts, town-planners, architects etc. No decision or consensus on locality/area that will be selected has been taken yet.
Which solution according to you should be selected for Pan City development?
Ans: City profiling and our extensive citizen engagement exercise that has touched ~50% of Pune’s households has revealed 6 key areas of concern of the citizens – they are Transport and Mobility, Water and Sewage, Solid Waste Management, Energy and Renewables, Safety and Security and Environment and Sustainability. We have now asked the citizens to define next level goals in each of the 6 key sectors. This exercise help us identify the pan-city initiatives that we shall choose as part of the Smart City Challenge.
Where does your city stand among the 100 selected Smart Cities?And why do you
think your city should come in the first 20?
Ans: I believe Pune can become one of the smartest cities in the world. Our greatest strength is our citizens. Punek ars are whole-heartedly supporting the Smart City initiative by helping the city identify its major problems and further developing innovative and smart solutions to resolve them. We believe extensive citizen engagement makes our proposal unique because of the scale of outreach and the kind of support which we have received from the citizens within the short time. Further, Pune boasts of aliteracy rate of 92%, which is much higher than the national and state average. Known as “Oxford of the East”, Pune has the 2nd largest university in the country with 811 colleges empanelled. Pune is an IT hub, ranking 2nd in India in software exports, contributing 9% to total software exports in the world. This makes it easier to source local suppliers of solutions reducing costs further. Lastly, Pune has a very progressive and modern civil society and the feeling of connectedness to the city is high in the citizens, which gives us the edge over all other cities. Pune has a diverse industry and provides a progressive investment climate.
Where do you see your cities in 5 to 10 years from now?
Ans: I see it as a technology hub with seeds of digital and information technology innovations in different sectors enriching citizen’s lives through low cost solutions ensuring inclusivity.As an illustration, let us pick up transportation and mobility. There are only so many roads you can build. The number of vehicles too will increase. To answer these challenges, I envision a major shift towards non-motorized and public transportation alternatives, aided by technology and efficient master planning. For example, bicyclesharing, which can be tracked through mobile apps, integrated in terms of payments and location with public buses (which too are GPS enabled) and stops, in tandem with intelligent street design will reduce significantly the need of private vehicles. It will not only reduce pollution, congestion but also help increase the citizens’ connect with the city.Five years is the time-frame I set for these changes to pick and a decade post that as the fruitful culmination. I see Pune playing its part in facilitating these changes by building a sturdy ecosystem of government leveraging private sector to create welfare capital for its citizens.
When are the infrastructure development tenders expected to come out?
Ans: The last date of submission of SCP (Smart City Proposal) is mid of December, after which the SCP will be review by MoUD. once Pune City is selected among the Smart Cities of Phase I, the infrastructure development tenders would come out in phases