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Vishakhapatnam: Leveraging Knowledge Economy For Building Business Hub
The new growth areas within all four centres will locate housing near jobs, preserve ecological assets, and minimize natural hazard risk. Embracing Green Living and Smart Business, Visakhapatnam Smart City will become South and Southeast Asia’s Clean Commerce Capital”, emphasised G Srijana, Commissioner, Greater Vishakhapatnam Municipal Corporation in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW Businessworld.
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“The city’s Smart City Framework Plan lays the groundwork for the development of Visakhapatnam from a 20th-century port city into an integrated city-region, Vishakhapatnam Metropolitan Region (VMR) which got segregated in four major centres, based on its distinct urban characteristics. The new growth areas within all four centres will locate housing near jobs, preserve ecological assets, and minimize natural hazard risk. Embracing Green Living and Smart Business, Visakhapatnam Smart City will become South and Southeast Asia’s Clean Commerce Capital”, emphasised G Srijana, Commissioner, Greater Vishakhapatnam Municipal Corporation in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW Businessworld.
Vishakapatnam, aka Vizag, famously known as a Port City and Industrial Centre in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh has a lot to offer, including being a natural hub for defence, shipping, trade and manufacturing. As a matter of fact, the divide of Andhra Pradesh into two states has rendered an additional impetus to an already economically vibrant Vizag. Chosen in the first round of Central Government’s Smart City challenge, Vizag offers unique advantages, as opposed to other knowledge industry capitals with an unspoiled natural environment, affordable housing and increasingly diverse economy.
In a conversation with G Srijana, Commissioner, Greater Vishakhapatnam Municipal Corporation, the erudite officer mentioned, “The city’s Smart City Framework Plan lays the groundwork for the development of Visakhapatnam from a 20th-century port city into an integrated city-region, Vishakhapatnam Metropolitan Region (VMR) which got segregated in four major centres, based on its distinct urban characteristics. The new growth areas within all four centres will locate housing near jobs, preserve ecological assets, and minimize natural hazard risk. Embracing Green Living and Smart Business, Visakhapatnam Smart City will become South and Southeast Asia’s Clean Commerce Capital.” Excerpts as under:
Would you share with us the key smart city projects of Visakhapatnam Smart City SPV?
The Vishakhapatnam smart city plan is a framework laid for the groundwork to elevate the city’s profile as the business and cultural centre of the region by carrying out signature development projects in the Central Business District, along the Beach Road and at Old Town. The southern industrial area will develop into smaller, mixed-use urban sub-centres that offer jobs-housing balance and improved living conditions for the local workforce. Madhurawada and the Rushikonda region of Vishakhapatnam will emerge as high-end knowledge industry clusters that offer world-class educational, recreational and tourism facilities.
The challenge for Vizag will be to realize its ambitious economic growth goals while preserving and enhancing liveability for the benefit of local citizens. Some of the key projects undertaken under our Smart City Mission in Vishakhapatnam lay their emphasis on improving the System Integrator to implement smart city solutions- The project “System Integrator to implement smart city solutions” was taken up in the year 2017 in Visakhapatnam under Smart City Mission. As part of the project, a City Operations Centre (COC) is developed in the office of Greater Vishakhapatnam Municipal Corporation which is integrated with various smart/intelligent sensors/devices installed across the city and various applications were deployed. The COC integrates data from multiple applications coming from various city departments to provide detailed analytics and complex event processing to alert and to predict various issues for timely action and decision making by the administrators. The City operations centre acts as an Incident/Disaster management centre and Citizen Contact centre during emergencies.
Solar projects- A capacity of 6.5 MW of solar plants were installed in the city through various solar projects as part of the Green Initiative to reduce carbon emissions taking a giant leap towards generating power in an eco-friendly way and meeting the needs of the corporation.
Smart Classrooms- As part of the implementation of the Smart City Mission in Visakhapatnam, the Smart classrooms initiative was taken in all the 147 Municipal schools. The ‘Smart Classrooms’ initiative provides various tools for interactive learning to improve the digital literacy and learning ecosystem in schools. Visakhapatnam Smart City has partnered with IL&FS Education & Technology Services Ltd and Google to provide holistic education solutions including software, hardware, training and certification to schools. The initiative has directly benefitted around 21000 students and the performance of students in academic has improved.
Sports Arena- The project ‘Sports Arena’ at MVP colony is taken up with inspiration from the city’s vision towards a healthy metropolis. This facility will accommodate several activities such as a swimming pool, jogging track, Multi-purpose indoor Play area with volleyball, basketball and badminton courts, parking facilities and other amenities along with the sitting area for the spectators which are being developed with international standards in an area of 1.27 acres in the prime location of the city. This facility is being tailored to accommodate the sports enthusiasts of all age groups in the city which are soon getting ready for inauguration.
Development of Open spaces/Parks- A total of 10 open spaces/ parks are developed under the Smart City Mission. VUDA park being the major park is the largest lung space of the city located near the beach is being developed with a cost of Rs 33.50 crore. with various facilities catering to all the age groups. Apart from this, ‘All ability park’ developed under Smart City provides access to all the persons with All Abilities ensuring social inclusion through 100 per cent Universal access design and Sensory Play equipment.
Climate change is one component that MoHUA has been considering very important for assessing smart cities. How has climate change impacted Vizag? As a city urban authority, what steps are being taken to face climate change for urban livelihood?
Vehicular traffic has significantly increased in the city since the last decade. The city has been regularly monitoring the weather and pollutant levels from different stations. Apart from this, City administration is taking up several projects related to energy conservation, green cover development through development of open spaces/parks and Avenue/Block plantations, Rejuvenation of the lakes, Recycling the sewerage water, curbing the excessive usage of water through metering etc., to fight the climate change with the support of several stakeholders in the city.
What are the prime challenges that you faced while implementing smart city in Vizag? How have you mitigated them?
Every city is unique based on its strategic location, richness and hence, challenges to being specific. For Vishakhapatnam, since the Smart City initiative is one of its kind when it was started in 2015 wherein projects were designed uniquely, onboarding of relevant and competent contractors to execute the works was a huge challenge.
The city administration also faced resistance from the citizens while executing of few Core projects despite Citizen Engagements conducted during the design phase. This probably is for the lack of in-depth understanding and knowledge, which we met with rightful knowledge dissemination engaging citizens, going forward.
Another unprecedented situation brought forward by the COVID 19 pandemic has entirely disturbed the flow of work in terms of paucity of labour and disturbance in Supply chain management i.e availability of construction/other materials.
The organisation has mitigated the above challenges through proper coordination between various stakeholder groups and through conducting timely reviews on the physical progress and expediting the works.
Waste management is also a prime component of smart cities development. Could you apprise us of the unique measure being taken in this direction by the city SPV, leveraging technology and budget involved?
Smart city has implemented the initiative of Semi-underground bins to curb the spilling of waste around and ensuring the timely mechanical disposal of waste. The bins were fitted with volume metric sensors which alert the concerned department. Vehicle tracking and Biometric attendance of the sanitation workers are being captured as a part of the City Operations Centre.
Apart from this GVMC has taken up Bio-remediation and 15 MW waste to energy projects for efficient solid waste management. Vizag is being one of the front runners in Swachh Surveykshan is taking a lot of initiatives in Solid waste management like 100% door to door collection, Source segregation of waste, Bio-composting at the building level, Closed compaction method to transport the waste, C&D waste management, recycling etc..,
What measures are being taken for citizen engagement at local levels for smart city projects? What has been the response?
Smart Cities challenge itself was designed on the dialogue of stakeholder engagements. The comments from different stakeholder groups were captured and incorporated in the Smart City Proposal. Around 6 lakhs citizens from the city have participated during the challenge process. A Smart city plan with proposed projects under the Smart City was prepared and submitted to MoHUA in 2016 during the challenge process. The same projects are being executed.
Our city administration overlooking the Smart City projects in Vishakhapatnam Smart City Communication regularly indulge in outreach activities are being done as per the requirement through Public announcement systems, hoardings, VMS displays, Bulk messaging systems and activity related meeting at local levels regularly as when required.
A city is considered sustainable only when there is economic viability. Is Vizag also treading in the same path? Could you share with us how the city is being economically strong?
Visakhapatnam, being the largest city in Andhra Pradesh has the advantages of well-connected Rail, Road, Water and Air connectivity and many heavy industries including public sector like Hindustan Petroleum, Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Hindustan Shipyard, Visakhapatnam Port Trust, National Thermal Power, Bharat Heavy Electricals, BARC, Naval Science and Technological Laboratory, Naval Dockyard, Dredging Corporation of India, Strategic Petroleum Reserve, NMDC, CONCOR, Andhra Pradesh Medtech Zone etc., are the factors that made the city into an Industrial hub generating employment other economic activities contributing towards the GDP of the city.
Blessed with a natural harbour and one of the largest ports of India, sea trade was made possible with other countries which also boost the economy. Tourism also plays an important role in generating revenue, with numerous tourist destinations in and around the city. The city is also a hub for educational facilities with nationally recognised Universities catering for the students in and out of the state. Health Tourism which caters to the neighbouring state of Odisha further adds to the economic ecosystem of the city.
The city has already gained the momentum to become economically vibrant. At the same time, various city and district level departments are providing the required infrastructure needs of the city to make the city more liveable and economically viable. The above factors led to the strong growth of Vizag city and are known as the financial capital of the state. It is bestowed with the title” City of destiny” and is one of the fastest-growing cities in Asia.
Vizag is soon to get 10000 solar street lights, one of the first in the country. Please share with us in details
As a part of the Smart City mission around 560 numbers Solar Street lights along the beach road for a stretch of around 4.0 Kms and 2300 No. of Solar Street lights were installed in the area selected by the smart city.
Apart from this GVMC is contemplating taking up similar projects in certain areas of the city with an initial proposal to install 100000 solar lights. A detailed project report is under preparation and proposed to take up the project soon.