Jammu and Srinagar smart cities undergoing massive transformation
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Jammu and Srinagar smart cities undergoing massive transformation

The cities of Jammu and Srinagar which used to be highly congested and underdeveloped have now been transformed into vibrant smart cities

Post by MOHAMMAD HANIEF on Wednesday, December 14, 2022

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The Union government has approved over 276 projects in Jammu and Srinagar in the last three years under the ‘Smart Cities’ mission. The projects are aimed at transforming these cities into vibrant centres that house all the modern facilities viz., quality city services, public aesthetics, ease of living and clean and sustainable environments. The cities of Jammu and Srinagar which used to be highly congested and underdeveloped have now been transformed into vibrant smart cities.


The “Smart Cities” project which focuses on upgrading urban governance and administration was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 25, 2015 for the development of selected 100 Smart Cities across the country. Jammu and Srinagar cities were selected by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in the third round of competition held in June 2017.


With an aim to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people across the country, effective steps are being taken to ensure that these projects are completed within the stipulated times. The Srinagar and Jammu Smart City projects have been structured with a clear focus on improving urban governance and unlocking the latent creativity and vitality of the historical cities. Under Smart City Mission, the vision for Jammu city is “Transforming Jammu into a sustainable and economically vibrant city with focus on tourism, quality of life and trade by leveraging its heritage and location”.


City chowk multi-level parking, renovation of MA stadium, construction of musical fountain at Bagh e Bahu, improvement of street lighting by LED bulbs, multi-level parking at bus-stand, 100 bedded emergency block at GMC-Jammu, Jammu ropeway project are some notable projects completed under smart city mission in Jammu city, so far. The building of the Tawi riverside, an ambitious project for the city of temples, marked a turning point for JSCL. The project will improve its overall appearance and provide new opportunities for tourism and economic development in Jammu city.


For Srinagar city, under Smart City Mission the government envisions to transform Srinagar into an eco-friendly, resilient and socio-economically vibrant city that celebrates its natural and cultural heritage creating harmony and opportunities for all. As Jammu and Srinagar are blessed with natural and cultural heritage, they are heading towards becoming eco-friendly, resilient and socio-economically vibrant cities. The digital infrastructure has been improved in both cities. People now can avail of a range of urban services like building permission, no-objection certificates for commercial activities, birth and death certificates, etc besides getting various government services digitally.


Under ‘Smart City Mission’ Srinagar has got EV charging stations, smart street lighting, multi-level parking, sports infrastructure, a water transport system in Jhelum river, ornamental LED lighting around Dal-lake, pathways and kiosks along Jhelum River Bund. The beautification and renovation of bund along Jhelum River, revetment and embankments of river banks, improvement of ghats, area illumination along river banks, pedestrian walkways and footpaths, boardwalks, walkways and cycle tracks have given Srinagar a new look altogether.


Besides Srinagar, Jammu city has also witnessed a remarkable overhauling of physical as well as digital infrastructure in the last three years. A ramp-based multi-car parking has been built at a cost of Rs 201.66 crore at General Bus Stand with a capacity of 80 buses and 1312 cars. A series of projects like Reverse Vending Machine, Refuse Compactor, Two Bin Segregation Dust Bins, GPS-enabled Vehicles for waste collection, City Chowk Parking and Smart Bus stops have already been completed


These new initiatives are catering to the needs and aspirations of Jammu and Kashmir people. Various digital and IT services have been made accessible for citizens to get seamless information and better service delivery. Under the much-hyped Smart City project, the work for 85 projects is in full swing while the authorities said that the completion of the task is expected to be completed by 2023. The work on several roads including Residency road, MA road, Batamaloo-Qamarwari, Dalgate-Gojwara road, Airport road, Nallamar road, Rajbagh road, new road from Barzulla-Natipora is being executed and Shehr-e-Khaas is also being upgraded in the smart city mission.


A ‘smart city’ is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability. It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents. There are many technological platforms involved, like automated sensor networks and data centres, etc. though this may sound futuristic, it is now likely to become a reality as the ‘smart cities’ movement unfolds in India.


Promoting mixed land use in area based developments–planning for ‘unplanned areas’ containing a range of compatible activities and land uses close to one another in order to make land use more efficient. The States will enable some flexibility in land use and building bye-laws to adapt to change. Creating walk able localities –reducing congestion, air pollution and resource depletion, boost local economy, promote interactions and ensure security. The road network is created or refurbished not only for vehicles and public transport, but also for pedestrians and cyclists, and necessary administrative services are offered within walking or cycling distance.


Making governance citizen-friendly and cost effective – increasingly rely on online services to bring about accountability and transparency, especially using mobiles to reduce cost of services and providing services without having to go to municipal offices. Forming e-groups to listen to people and obtain feedback and use online monitoring of programs and activities with the aid of cyber tour of work sites.


Boon, a global water-tech startup, has teamed up with Srinagar Smart City Limited to keep an eye on the quality of water in the famous Dal Lake in Jammu and Kashmir. Dal Lake is the second largest lake in Jammu and Kashmir and one of the most visited places in Srinagar by locals and tourists. It's also treasured as an essential hub for water plant harvesting and fishing, providing food and water to nearby villages.


To restore the glory of the lake, Srinagar Smart City Limited will deploy Clairvoyant for Rs 1.28 crore to run historical data models using AI and compare them with current data samples to find variances over time, informing authorities of remedial action if the water quality is beyond the prescribed limit. Timely completion of the projects under the Srinagar Smart City Mission is important, but the works should be done in a coordinated manner to minimize the inconvenience faced by the public.


It is to be seen whether the deadline can be met particularly when the work has been started only some months back in Srinagar and the unfavourable harsh winter conditions are also approaching. The snowfall and freezing cold usually disrupts, or slows down the pace of such works. With an aim to upgrade the heritage sites in the city, the Srinagar Smart City Limited (SSCL) has started conservation work on several heritage sites as the project of conservation work has been bifurcated into three phases and the work on a few heritage sites has been completed so far.


These new initiatives will cater to the needs of the people of Jammu and Kashmir with a vision of evolving them through the use of modern IT and other interventions enabling seamless information access and better service delivery.


The Jammu and Kashmir administration, keeping pace with national policies and programmes envisaging urban development, is initiating numerous measures towards accelerating growth and development of cities of Jammu and Kashmir. The Smart City Projects are aimed at transforming Jammu and Srinagar into modern, sustainable and economically vibrant cities with a dedicated focus on improving infrastructure and services, increasing mobility.


(The author is a regular columnist and can be mailed at m.hanief@gmail.com)

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