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All 4,372 cities in the country should become smart: D S Mishra

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Thiruvananthapuram: “The experience and solutions from smart cities should be replicated and shared with other managers of smart cities,” said Durga Shanker Mishra, IAS, secretary, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, Government of India while delivering the keynote address on the second day of the APAC Smart & Sustainable City Conclave.

Emphasizing on the importance of learning from the success stories of smart cities, Mr Durga Shanker exhorted managers of smart cities to share the learnings with the stake holders of other smart cities. All 4,372 cities in the country should become smart.

Speaking on the challenges, Durga Shanker Mishra said according to the 2011 census, 31% of the population lived in urban places and this would more than double by 2051. If there is no plan, life would be difficult for urbanites.”

The session on leveraging the untapped potential of tourism sector moderated by P Bala Kiran, IAS, Director, Kerala Tourism, Govt of Kerala was invigorating as senior officials from Gujarat, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh shared their experiences. Sharing one of the innovative and inclusive idea, Mr P Bala Kiran said that the identification of 52 local dance and art forms could now be sourced by hoteliers and that would give a major fillip to artists and improve their living standards and keep heritage alive.”  Sheo Shekar Shukla, IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism & MD, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board, Govt of Madhya Pradesh, said that there is a spurt in responsible and sustainable tourism and Madhya Pradesh which is uniquely positioned is a repository of natural heritage and a perfect shangirla to find solace. “ He added, “Caravan tourism is catching on as people, especially the young IT sector ones are looking for out-of-the-box solutions.”

Vishal Kumar Dev, IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism Dept, Govt of Odisha, explained about the rapid rise of Odisha in the last 20 years especially in industrial investment. On the tourism front, Odisha has a lot of potential in showcasing its rich ethnic diversity with 62 tribes account for 24% of the population. Also, the 47 community based nature camps in the eco-tourism space is exciting.”

Sameer Unhale, IAS, Joint Director, Directorate of Municipal Adminsistration, Govt of Maharashtra, wants all smart city initiatives to be people centric and not technocrat and bureaucrat centric. He argued that broader convergence was needed and the poorest of the poor and weakest of the weak should be included in the development.” Citing an example o an App that was created and shared with 1,000 rag pickers for dry waste collection proved to be a game changer and brought them into the fold.  Jafar Malik, IAS, CEO, Cochin Smart Mission Ltd, Govt of Kerala concurring with the view of Sameer Unhale said that each city was unique in its own way and an integrated approach to solve civic issues was the way forward. He also said, “500 water meters were being installed as a pilot in the city households to conserve water.”

There were technology presentations by Nitin Jaganathan, CEO, Schnell Energy Equipments Pvt Ltd and Md Mazharul Haque, MD, Oasis WFS (P) Ltd.

Pamela Satpathy, IAS, Commissioner, Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation & CEO Warangal Smart City Government of Telangana shared the eco-friendly initiative of creating a 4-km cycling stretch that caught the imagination of people and the distribution of bicycles to sanitation jawans which proved successful in better health and reduced bills on petrol.”

The cities in India are undergoing transformation and Housing and Urban Development Corporation has been playing a major role, M Nagaraj, Director, Corporate Planning, Housing and Urban Development Corporation said, “India is expected to become the second largest in urban space occupation. Planning framework for a data driven system is needed. Smart governance is the way forward.” He went on to add, “The Prime Minister Awas Yojana is the world’s biggest housing project and is unmatched anywhere in the world.”

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