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BW Businessworld

Urban Retrofitting of Heritage Cities of Rajasthan

Time bound completion of the project while ensuring the quality being given top priority besides regular technology supported monitoring and administration, has kept Rajasthan smart cities ahead of their other counter-parts. Poulami Chakraborty of BW Businessworld investigates on strategies, funding and way forward

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For Rajasthan is more than being the land of desert and heritage. It’s much more than how people perceive it to be – beyond monuments, cultural heritage, desert landscape and anything that has outlined the city’s pictorial description. Today’s Rajasthan, has emerged as a perfect blend of heritage and modern day technological innovation. At least the recent Smart City ranking conducted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has been showing impressive trends which reconfirms that Rajasthan smart cities – Jaipur, Udaipur, Kota and Ajmer have braced-up truly well to have topped the central Government’s smart city ranking list of the current year.

A bouquet of carefully designed projects under implementation phase, some of which are completed comprises mammoth infrastructural development in the cultural heritage land. Riding the tide of major infrastructural uplift for urban rejuvenation Rajasthan’s Smart Cities today, worth INR 3965 crores. As we delve deeper for a critical analysis, we look forward to explore how these four cities have been progressing towards their individual goals of bringing out sustainable and resilient cities of future.

The Background

As a yearly procedure, the Central Government comes up with its own list of best performing cities in its Smart City mission. The ranking as a usual method enables creating a boost to the competing city administrations to create a healthy ambience of innovation, implementation and knowledge exchange for a learning for tomorrow. The recent online ranking supported by the Government of India, shows trends that four Rajasthan cities, Udaipur, Kota, Ajmer and Jaipur have secured the 8th, 11th, 29th and 36th rank respectively, among the 100 participating smart cities of the country.

Setting behind these background, Smart Cities announced in Rajasthan has ranked well ahead of their past records in the MoHUA’s Smart city ranking creating a buzz in the domain. As a matter of fact, sources revealed that infrastructural developmental work on an upswing, together with strategized action plan has enabled the state’s smart cities to improve their position in the central’s smart city list. As we investigate the success story, we will unfold the procedure and way forward.

What clicked right for Rajasthan? The Prominent Projects

While the government at both Central and State level is making efforts to elevate cities infrastructure capacities up to a futuristic level, private players on the other hand is pushing to leverage the opportunities, pumping up significant investment.

The recent one in this direction came from Damodar Ropeway and Infra Limited (DRIL) who has been offered the tender of completing ropeway in Udaipur by 2022 has confirmed to be pumping about INR 20 crores in it which in the long term is to add an to the cape of Udaipur, putting it ahead out of the listed cities. Furthermore, Udaipur known for its scenic beauty by virtue of its magnificent palaces and the second largest artificial fresh water lake will soon be attracting major influx of tourists once the ropeway infrastructure is installed, fully functional, quoted a senior administrative authority from Udaipur Development Authority. The similar source further confirmed that DRIL has chosen to implement the project in two significant spots in the city including Fateh Sagar Lake and ancient temple Neemach Mata situated atop a hill on the banks of the same lake, which is a stretch 430 m long.

Besides this, several other key projects have been completed by the city development authorities of all the four smart cities in Rajasthan, which has enabled them to lock the top positions in the ranking system. Some of these projects under Udaipur Smart City Limited which are completed includes, setting up Smart Class Rooms in government schools of walled City Area Udaipur; Installation of Solar roof top in government buildings in the Area Based Development; Integrated Command and Control Center(ICCC), Progress under Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), Pollution abatement in Pichola Lake by trapping Waste Water coming from Sisarma Village among others. Projects worth INR 34.49 crores is completed out of the proposed INR 1526 crores.

Udaipur Smart City Limited CEO, Nilabh Saxena, asserted, “Our strategy was focussed to engage citizens across all levels of the society, public places, institutions and work places through personal, in-group’s and media contacts. Key stakeholders including residents and elected representative, civic authorities, industrial and trader organizations were mobilized and actively engaged to dialogue and express opinions about the long term vision for improving the quality of life of every citizen.”

While, on the other hand Jaipur have INR 2401 crores against a total138 projects, out of which projects worth INR 533 crores are completed under 40 separate tenders. Special focus has been laid on retrofitting modelling of areas of walled areas, mobility sector, heritage restoration and tourism, smart civic infrastructure, multi modal Public Transit Central Operation and management centre, Smart Mobility card, Solid Waste Management, Public Information System among others.

CEO Jaipur Smart City Limited, Awdesh Meena further said, “Some of the prime projects covered under Jaipur Smart City includes Smart Roads which are done with smart usage of IT and cameras, censors, under-ground cables for monitoring and acquiring all possible data. Smart parking covered with smart censors, roof-top solar projects, Integrated Command and Operation Center, Smart classroom in Heritage schools, public bike sharing are some of the key projects that are undertaken under the supervision of our SPV.”

In a nutshell, both Jaipur and Udaipur had been working with a mutual focus on restoration and maintenance of heritage cites and areas under their jurisdiction. Jaipur Smart City Limited CEO, Meena further went on to confirm, “As a SPV, our focus is to heritage restoration and market up gradation is done at optimum level and the Heritage City title of Jaipur is rightly justified.”

Kota on the other hand is a perfect example of radical urban developmental projects. Recently, Rajasthan Chief Minister laid foundation stone of 13 developmental projects in the city, worth INR 1056 crores, which includes crucial projects as river front development in the banks of Chambal which is worth INR 307-crore Chambal river front project and the Rs 300-crores worth Devnarayan Nagar Integrated Housing Scheme. The unique housing project is aimed at providing residential as well as plots for rearing cattle to livestock owners in the region, which will bring down the menace of stray animals in the city and enable beautification of Kota City to attract tourists.

Fundings and Strategies

What it turned out to be in the entire process, is that every city must have an economically viable model to generate funds and transactional opportunities for them to thrive in the race of sustenance for a longer while.

Besides being allocated stipulated funds for implementation of key projects by both the Central and state government, each ULB makes significant effort in raising a portion of the fund that would boost the economy of the region. Udaipur Smart City Limited CEO, Nilabh Saxena, confirmed: “Funding pattern is 50% funds from Government of India share, 30% share of state government, 10% from UIT (Urban Improvement Trust) and 10% from Udaipur Municipal Corporation. One project has been executed on a MoU basis with Hindustan Zinc Limited CSR Funds.”

He further added, “It is in our constant endeavour to raise funds at ULB level, for which we focus on enhancing scope for tourism in the region, which itself is a cultural heritage. Key projects as Integrated infrastructure project which was designed to bring 5 public utilities namely electricity, drinking water, sewerage network, storm water drain and utility duct underground and its seamless integration throughout the walled city of Udaipur, Heritage Projects, Solid Waste Management Projects, flyover and Ayad river front development project have given the city state of the art infrastructural development. And these projects have been executed in a time bound manner. Regular monitoring, political will, an active community led dialog during execution have made it possible.”

On the other hand, Jaipur depicts a different picture of raising funds, even though central and state level government shares are similar. CEO SPV Jaipur, Awdesh Meena confirmed, “Out of the total of INR 1000 crores both the Central Government and State Government extend equal share of INR 500 crores each. However, some of the projects are accomplished under Public Private Partnership (PPP) The aim is to complete all project under Smart City Mission by 2022, thus establishing brand ‘Jaipur’ as a city of future in the coming times.”

As a matter of fact, the complete structural framework of Smart Cities rest on how the process of implementation are strategized for sustainability and way forward, Nilabh Saxena assures, “ Time bound completion of the project while ensuring the quality is our top priority. Some of projects which usually lacks in government executed projects has been kept for 10 years. “

Jaipur CEO, Meena, further went on to explain, “At Jaipur Smart City we always value citizens and their feedback, regular assessing and monitoring through project management technologies has enabled us to gather about the real-time data and then roll out solutions.