Smart City or Smart Citizens ?

By Nidhi Rauthan

Have you ever wondered what a smart city is?

In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi got to power along with his BJP government, with a vision to make India a fully developed country. He initiated the Smart City Mission under which 100 cities were to be chosen from all over the country to be converted into Smart Cities. It is a 5-year program and the mission is still in progress. The total Funding for the project is US $15 billion i.e., ₹ 98,000 crores. Ministry of Urban Development is in charge of the Smart City Project.

The smart city is a concept of urbanization and retrofitting of a place to make it sustainable, to make things accessible to people, the city that is ideal for job opportunities and numerous employment availability where nature and technology both could coexist without any compromise. For this, the buildings should be constructed on barren lands instead of cutting down a large number of trees, also more plantation should be done to avoid the formation of concrete forest in order to make a smart city.

A smart city is not just formed by big buildings, rich societies and literate people it’s when the people start behaving smartly, so a very important component of a smart city is smart people who could understand their responsibilities not just towards their personal life, but keeping whole society, city and their country in mind.

A huge number of Indian population is migrating to foreign countries like America, U.K., Australia and other countries, the reason is,  they get so many facilities,  good infrastructure, clean environment, and jobs, that’s what  tempt the Indians with such talented, intelligent and genius minds to work for them instead of their own country. One of the purposes of this Smart City Mission is to make the youth of our country stop getting lured by foreign countries in terms of good jobs, facilities, and a better livelihood. It’s possible only if we take the initiative to make our country a better place. Another main reason that comes to every Indian’s mind living abroad is that it’s super clean, it seems to glorify them and when the comparison arises they feel disgusted and are repelled by the untidy situation of India and therefore, are reluctant to return. That is what we have to change through urbanization, through this project.

smart cities or smart citizensDehradun, the capital of Uttrakhand, was included in the list of smart city project in the third round after getting rejected twice and still scoring 54 marks only. The overall budget that will be provided to complete the project in Dehradun till the year 2022 is ₹1,400 crore. The major stress is on widening the main roads and crossroads in Dehradun like Rajpur Road, Prince Chowk, Araghar Chowk, Clock Tower, Bindal Bridge, Karanpur Chowk, E. C. Road, Chakrata Road and  Saharanpur Chowk, to secure traffic problems and to solve parking issues in Tehsil. The main market of Dehradun that is, Paltan Bazar and the deceptive appearance of Astley Hall buildings along with Gandhi Park modification are also included in the project.

Dehradun is surely developing with a great pace, it has progressed a great deal in past few years. Flyover, numerous societies or flats, apartments, malls and also many colleges and schools have been built and families come here from various parts of India to provide good education to their children. However,  there are things very important to execute that are still missing.

It’s absurd that the whole Rajpur Road that’s considered to be the posh area, don’t even have a single proper dustbin. The poly bags of household wastes are lying and literally dumped in so many places where ever there are bare lands, making all the street animals tear the poly bags in search of food and drag it towards the main roads creating the huge mess.

Once the all season river Rispana and Bindal have now turned into tunnels or the city dustbin with the enormous heaps of waste. It is unlikely to believe that Rispana is a perennial stream that was revealed by Roorkee, National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) and now even the sight of it makes one feel nauseous. The dissolved oxygen level of the water is extremely less, it’s highly polluted and the deposition of so many nutrients, detergent, fertilizers, and phosphates is leading towards eutrophication, the depletion of the water bodies.

It’s very common in our country that all the construction works take way more time than required to complete. To create a smart city the basic necessities of people should be fulfilled first, electricity without any power cut, clean water supply, proper roads is very important even inside colonies and not just the main roads, for avoiding any sort of accident, major or minor and for public comfort.

Government hospitals,  affordable to poor people should be available. Most of the government hospitals are in worst conditions, just because those are for poor people does not mean that it should be degraded. Proper facilities, infrastructure should be taken into consideration. Doctors and medicines should available on time, the equipments should be clean and sterilized.

To finish the target on time within five years, the government and all the government officials responsible along with the labors have to be really efficient. The Smart City Mission for Dehradun still lacks the facility to provide accommodation to homeless people. Most of the times money from the funds are extracted by officials in midway(that is the black money)  before it could be used to provide facilities to the society.

With the population so high,  there is not even a hand full of public washrooms in Dehradun and among them also female washrooms can rarely be found and even the ones available are not in a condition to be used. Most of them are just for men. There should be proper, well-maintained public toilets within 2  kilometers at least. The reason why people pay taxes is for the well being, betterment of society, then why are the taxes being taken when people can not even get washrooms or dustbins nearby? Small things like installing dustbins within few distances can help to improve the condition a lot.  If separate dustbins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste are available then it will be easier to use organic waste to use as manure and recycle the inorganic waste such as plastic bottles. The municipal corporation is responsible for these things they should provide such facilities. If dustbins will be provided at several places, people will not dump the waste at one place or even in the sewers, that the people selling street foods tend to do, that leads to choking of city’s sewer system. To repair the roads are broken and again it takes several months in order to reconstruct it, causing so much trouble to the public.  The habits of people getting spoiled because there are not enough rules and facilities.smart city citizens lack in civic sense

Like a spoilt child needs time to understand what’s right, the people would require time, the government just needs to be strict and alert and not ignorant. There should be cameras, especially near the dustbins so that people don’t throw the litters outside it.  Heavy fines should be imposed if done so.  The absence of dustbins and public washrooms can cause severe diseases. We want a hygienic environment and healthy population.

Without cleanliness city can never become smart as it is said: “Our thoughts can never be clear when our surrounding isn’t”. It’s not something that we just need to talk about and then forget, this concept should be embedded into the minds of all so deeply that  even the act of  throwing a single toffee wrapper on the ground that seems completely innocuous make their heart ache, and they think a dozen times before messing up our beautiful mother earth and that too without the fear of any fine imposition or anything else.  This should be taught since the childhood,  in the school, and at home so that each child could learn cleanliness as the basic manners. For those to whom it’s next to impossible to explain that we are the ones who have to make this possible, to straighten the already formed ideas of cleanliness in their minds, strict actions should be taken.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

It’s obviously government’s job to provide us with such a city, but we, being citizens have to cooperate, to make it paradise. The citizens who want to live in a place that fully developed, they also have to work themselves and not just rely on the government to initiate.  Stand against wrong, be smart because the smart city and smart people are actually directly proportional to each other.

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