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ODISHA : 5T Strategy taking State across various Milestones
For creating a fearless atmosphere while opening up of economic activities, we have ensured vaccination of all eligible employees in all sectors like Manufacturing, IT & Services, Financial Services, Real Estate & Constructions, Hospitality sectors etc so that they can attend to their work without fear and hesitation”, asserted Sanjay Singh, Commissioner Bhubaneshwar Municipal Corporation and CEO, Bhubaneshwar Smart City Limited in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW Businessworld
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Odisha has been always a pro-active state when it comes to emergency and disaster management guided by the cardinal principle laid down by Hon’ble Chief Minister, Odisha, Naveen Patnaik i.e., “Every Life is precious”. “Aligning with the state authorities’ strategy of test, track, treat, vaccinate”, we worked out strategies to contain spread and impact of COVID 19. Since vaccination and appropriate behavior are the only methods available for us as of now for COVID-19 management, we have been very methodical in planning for the vaccination. For creating a fearless atmosphere while opening up of economic activities, we have ensured vaccination of all eligible employees in all sectors like Manufacturing, IT & Services, Financial Services, Real Estate & Constructions, Hospitality sectors etc so that they can attend to their work without fear and hesitation”, asserted Sanjay Singh, Commissioner Bhubaneshwar Municipal Corporation and CEO, Bhubaneshwar Smart City Limited in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW Businessworld
How has operation been in the Smart City front in Bhubaneswar during the past one and a half year of pandemic? How has Bhubaneswar leveraged its Smart city initiatives for tackling Covid situation during the past few months?
We have a dedicated technology solution team at Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited. We are driven by the 5T strategy of the state and given utmost priority to the technology and transparency component of it. The city of Bhubaneswar has leveraged digital technology to strengthen its public delivery system.
Most of our citizen-centric services have been automated and made online to make available different services at people's doorstep. Citizens have also responded by utilizing these services during the pandemic lockdown. A few examples are property & holding tax deposit system, trade license issuing system, building plan approval system, marriage registration and certification system, payment under social welfare schemes, engineering project & contract management system.
These assets created as part of the smart city intervention has been functioning adequately and really supported the city and its citizen during the past one and a half year of the pandemic.
Covid has definitely been an eye-opener for human community on many aspects. What are the key takeaways for the city administration from the pandemic and how have the city administration leveraged it for upgrading administrative capabilities to deal with such situation?
The unprecedented magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of life, causing a major blow to the environment and socio-economic life of a city or town. But, at the same time, the pandemic has proved to be a wake-up call for the city administration to fix the gaps or adopt pandemic-proof urban planning and governance. The impacts of COVID-19 on cities is mainly related to six major aspects, namely, environment quality, socio-economic impacts, management and governance, transportation and urban design, health infrastructure and sanitation, and slum redevelopment.
As they say ‘every crisis brings with it an opportunity’, we have learnt a lot from this COVID-19 crisis and for planners and policy makers will use these experiences to take transformative actions towards making Bhubaneswar more resilient, and sustainable in the days ahead.
During the pandemic one of the prime challenges which appeared included migrant workers. How has Bhubaneswar Smart City administration dealt with this challenge? How is the city urban administration also leveraging job opportunities in the city?
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) had arranged transportation for smooth and safe return of migrant workers to their homes during the nation-wide lockdown and shutdown. As a responsible civic body, we have deployed our officers and staff to ensure the homebound migrant workers reach Bhubaneswar safely and arranged their food and accommodation with testing.
On the aspect of giving employment to urban poor people, the BMC has been creating employment opportunities for the urban poor, informal and migrant laborers under the Urban Wage Employment Initiative (UWEI) and subsequently renamed as Mukhyamantri Karma Tatpara Abhiyan (MUKTA) to help create ecologically sustainable and climate resilient community assets. Migrant workers who had lost their jobs are now engaged in activities like storm water drainage and rainwater harvesting, peripheral development around water bodies, sanitation, increase in green cover and beautification and open space development in the city.
Bhubaneswar has recently completed 100 per cent vaccination within the state. What has been the motivation to attain this landmark achievement? Going forward, what strategies is the state administration working out to deal with Covid challenges?
Odisha has been always a pro-active state when it comes to emergency and disaster management guided by the cardinal principle laid down by Hon’ble Chief Minister, Odisha i.e., “Every Life is precious”. Aligning with the state authorities’ strategy of test, track, treat, vaccinate”, we worked out strategies to contain spread and impact of COVID 19. Since vaccination and appropriate behavior are the only methods available for us as of now for COVID-19 management, we have been very methodical in planning for the vaccination. For creating a fearless atmosphere while opening up of economic activities, we have ensured vaccination of all eligible employees in all sectors like Manufacturing, IT & Services, Financial Services, Real Estate & Constructions, Hospitality sectors etc so that they can attend to their work without fear and hesitation. However appropriate enforcement on adoption of COVID appropriate behavior also being done even after vaccination so as to contain any possible spread.
The vaccination logistics arrangement were done very smoothly through arrangement of more and more number of vaccination centers(CVC) throughout the city with an objective of making available the CVC to the neighborhood of the citizens. Adequate publicity through Mass media and social media done and citizens made use of those very effectively. The supply of vaccines to these CVCs were done through a meticulous planning and no dislocation ever noticed in this regard.
As we have been able to achieve our targeted numbers based on 2011 census and projections to 2021, we plan to slowly and strategically bring back life to normal by unlocking city activities. The unlocking process has already begun in phases that have geared up the economic activities of the city.
Puri has recently been awarded as the first city in the country to have supplied clean drinking water from tap. How has this been possible to achieve? Will you share a brief account about it?
Yes, Puri, the coastal town famous for the Jagannath Temple and the annual Rath Yatra is the first city in India where people can avail high quality drinking water directly from the tap on 24-hour basis. And, this indeed a huge achievement of our Government. This tap water can be used directly for drinking, without requiring further filtration.Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha has been personally monitoring this mega project and it was implemented on a mission mode under the ‘5T’ initiative.
The initiative would benefit 2.5 lakh residents of Puri and the estimated 2 crore tourists and pilgrim who visit the town every year. Importantly, the 24×7 drinking water supply would also cover about 66,000 slum dwellers.
The government has set up 120 drinking water fountains along the Grand Road leading to the Jagannath Temple and other popular places in Puri adding that 100 per cent of its nearly 32,500 taps were fitted with meters.
What are the key smart City initiatives which are in pipeline of Bhubaneswar Smart city limited? What plans and strategies do you have for meeting the deadline for the cities smart cities mandates?
Initiated in 2015, Smart city program launched a number of projects under Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited. As moving towards completion of the program, few of the projects that we envisage as iconic to the city are Intelligent City Operations and Management Centre, Slum Redevelopment through construction of Affordable Housing Units, Up-gradation of city amenities like Commercial Centers, Neighborhood Markets, Development of Park and Recreational facilities, Streetscaping of Major roads like Smart Janpath Project etc. Apart from the initial projects identified pan city and for area-based developments, different city challenges were launched by MoHUA under smart city programs. We, as 1st ranking city in smart city proposal have always strived to be a part of these challenges. One of the unique and climate responsive projects is developed under CITIIS challenge named B-Active is developed on the theme of improving quality public open spaces including streets, parks, playgrounds, heritage precincts and water bodies. Pilot project under this proposal has already been initiated on ground. A Cycle 4 Change challenge which was launched in 2021 has also been completed its Phase 1 and has been selected for implementation of Phase 2. Other challenges posed by MoHUA shall be taken up subsequently including Transport 4 All.
Would you share with us about the financial modelling of smart city mandates of Bhubaneswar? What is the funding status of the same?
The total project cost as per the smart city proposal is 4,537 Crores which includes funds under convergence from various State and Central Schemes.
These would be availed by the Smart city SPV over a span of 5 years on installment basis on MOUs, commitments, and project structuring. Currently we are in the last year (2021) of the financial timeline submitted as part of the smart city proposal. The repayments of the final installments of loans are envisaged in the 10th year (2031). Out of this entire cost, INR 4,095 Cr was allotted to Area Based Development and INR 442 Cr was allotted to Pan City proposals.
Odisha is known for its excellent capacity of dealing with natural calamities which hits the coastal state almost every year. How crucial a role does the smart city Bhubaneswar plays in dealing this circumstance? Please share of any specific initiatives that the city administration excels for preparedness?
Odisha has frequently faced natural calamities such as cyclones, floods, hailstorms and drought etc. due to its peculiar geo-climatic conditions, but with proper coordination, disaster-specific institutional mechanism the state has been able to avoid human causality in calamities to a great extent, sometimes even zero causality. This is achieved with the objective set by us to “Every Life is precious” as per the mandate of our Government.
When it comes to the role of Smart City Bhubaneswar during natural calamities, the Socially Smart Bhubaneswar Project of Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL) has come in rescue of many people affected in the cyclone ‘Fani’ that hit the State Capital on May 3, 2019. Peer Leaders (Pragati Sathis) of the Socially Smart Project were engaged during evacuation and also engaged during post cyclone relief work in Bhubaneswar. The Peer Leaders have ensured that people move to the shelters from slums and no person is left in a “Kuchha” house during the wind/cyclone period.
Similarly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peer Leaders have also contributed towards the uplift of health, sanitation and social issues of the residents of Bhubaneswar. Besides, they worked as COVID Volunteers and helped the city administration in a host of measures including creating awareness at community-level, slums, distributing thermal scanners and pulse oximeter gloves, sanitizers and masks etc.
The functioning of the Intelligent City Operations and Management Centre (ICOMC) was instrumental in getting a real-time situation during calamity in the field and respond to it even before complain is received.
The functioning of the 1929 helpline has been very helpful during calamity situation and also during the pandemic where this was used by the public to lodge their grievance which in turn is transmitted to the official concerned for necessary intervention.