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Developing smart and sustainable cities: Implications for Panaji

INTRODUCTION

Cities all over the world are faced with diverse challenges ranging from urbanization, population growth, poverty, to the impending falls outs of climate change. In developing countries, the rapid rate of urbanization in cities is often associated with overpopulation, disproportionate resource consumption, undue pressure on infrastructure, and development practices which are not adequately sensitive to the environment. Coastal cities by virtue of their natural setting and coupled with the risks of climate change and extreme events such as storm surges and severe rain fall are particularly susceptible posing a severe threat to people and quality of life.

Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations formulated the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by countries all over the world to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.

Goal 11 of the SDGs, focuses on making cities safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable. It involves improving urban planning and management in proposed target areas of housing, transport, planning, natural/cultural heritage, resilience, environment and open space in a way that is both participatory and inclusive.

Challenges in Panaji

Panaji, the capital city of Goa, spread over just 812 hectares, is a prime tourist spot, both for national as well as international tourists, and houses critical infrastructure that supports vast tourism activity in the area. As per the data from Department of Tourism for the year 2011, Tiswadi taluka, where Panaji is situated, received 6.90 lakh domestic tourists and 4.45 foreign tourists. Panaji is one of the prime tourist destinations in the taluka and receives a major share of tourists visitation throughout the year. Growing tourism and the rapidly increasing urbanization is putting pressure on the city's infrastructure which poses a major threat to the city's natural resources and ecology, such as mangroves, khazan lands and sand dunes. The city also has a rich heritage and several protected historical monuments and precincts. All these factors when clubbed with future risks posed by climate change, makes Panaji highly vulnerable.

What is a Smart City?

  • It is an urban development vision to integrate ICT, Information and Communications Technology and the Internet of Things (loT) to improve quality of life, and, the efficiency of urban operation and services, so as to reduce costs and resource consumption, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and the future generations - economically, socially and environmentally.
  • Smart city applications are developed with the goal of improving the management of urban flows, allowing for real time responses to challenges, and enhancing the contact between citizens and the government.

Panaji's Initiatives for Smart and Sustainable Development

In a drive to promote economic growth and improve the quality of life of people, the Government of India launched the Smart City Mission in 2015 with a plan to build 100 smart cities across the country. The Mission harnesses technology as a means to enable local development and create smart outcomes for citizens. Smart cities are projected to be equipped with basic infrastructure through smart solutions. Some of the likely attributes of smart cities would be assured water and power supply, better sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, robust IT connectivity, e-Governance and citizen participation along with safety of its citizens. Panaji has been selected as a smart city in the Fast Track Selection Process. It is also implementing the AMRUT scheme. Apart from the Government's Smart Cities Mission and the AMRUT scheme, there are several non-government initiatives that have presented Panaji with an opportunity to develop with an environmentally sustainable approach and build resilience towards climate change. Watch this space for more updates on such initiatives in Panaji, in the next issue.

What is the AMRUT Scheme?

In 2015, the Government of India launched the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, better known as the AMRUT scheme for improving the current urban infrastructure and ensure adequate robust linkages for urban transformation. Focusing on urban renewal and retrofitting programmes, AMRUT has five hundred cities in India under its coverage, of which Panaji is one.

Imagine Panaji

Under the guidelines of the Smart City Mission, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) 'Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Limited' has been formulated to implement the roadmap which will transform Panaji into a smart city. The Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Limited, which was notified on 17th August 2016, is the nodal agency in charge of planning, appraisal, approval, funding, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Smart City development projects as per recommendations of the central government.

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