NEW DELHI: Bhopal, the capital city of India’s central state Madhya Pradesh is at the forefront when it comes to smart initiatives, and is currently transforming into a Smart City with a slew of developmental programs. The city has been recently named as the ‘Cleanest Capital’ of India by in the Centre’s Swachh Survekshan 2019. Bhopal’s District Collector and Smart City Chairman Tarun Pithode in an interaction with the PageOne speaks on the ICT-driven initiatives, area-based development, and other Smart City features. Edited excerpts.
Since you have taken over as a city chief, what are your developmental programs currently underway?
We have already constructed 2,000 flats for housing while another 5,000 are being built in order to get the government houses vacated in the region identified for area-based development. These are the designated areas where we are carrying out developmental work as a part of broader Smart City.
Parking is an issue in every large city today. How are you addressing it?
A smart city constitutes multi-level smart parking which we have already done at three sites and have also approved a similar parking facility at two different locations. In addition, dedicated tracks for bicycle users are also being developed further.
How are you making Bhopal safe? What are your plans for city surveillance?
We have identified crucial 22 squares in the city to deploy 10-12 cameras in each square. In total, we are putting up 240 smart cameras as a part of a surveillance system. These cameras can be further used for safety purposes such as crime control. It is parallel to a project undertaken by the local police which is a part of an integrated traffic management system where challans are being produced electronically using intelligent cameras. Additionally, we are deploying cameras across the Bhopal Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS).
How much revenue or fine have you collected so far in challans?
We have collected nearly Rs 1 crore worth of fine in about a year’s time.
With technology being close to your heart, what are the ICT-driven initiatives you are taking to make Bhopal truly smart?
We have installed 150 smart poles and another 250 are under implementation phase, and the initiative is likely to be completed by December end this year. These poles will have Wi-Fi hotspots, charging points for electrical vehicles (EVs), weather sensors, street lightening system and signage. In addition, we are also laying 200-kilometer of optic-fibre cable (OFC) to connect all 400 smart poles.
How Bhopal is a nurturing place for budding entrepreneurs and startups?
We have created an incubation centre in the Bhopal Smart City office premise, and more than six entrepreneurs have created their startups that have been doing pretty well in the country, and have got global recognition.
You are expected to take a credit to further transform Bhopal into a Smart City?
“We have floated the Expression of Interest (EOI) to get a loan worth Rs 1,000 crore to carry out developmental work, as a part of the larger Smart City initiative. Few financing companies such as Punjab National Bank (PNB), Axis Bank, Power Finance Corporation and the Housing and Urban Develop Corporation (Hudco) have shown interest.
Many cities across India are at a nascent stage today and are likely to show results starting from 2022. By when Bhopal will become an operational Smart City?
We expect to complete a majority of broad components required to make Bhopal a visibly Smart City by the end of 2020.