Our recent Smart Urbanation Summit, organised by Smart Cities Council India in Hyderabad, recognised Bhopal with an honourable mention for its smart transportation initiative. What's more, Chandramauli Shukla, CEO, Bhopal Smart City, was awarded for being among the most popular SPV CEOs in 2018. From smart public bike sharing, new-age solar energy and an intelligent transport system to smart lights, roads and parking, and an integrated command and control centre (ICCC), the capital city has it all. Shukla shares more with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN and RAHUL KAMAT...
How is Bhopal progressing in its initiative to become smart?
We have already started working on most of the projects conceived under the smart city proposal, whether it is area-based development (ABD) or pan-city development. We may be the first city in the country where the state government has allotted 342 acre of the proposed Central Business District (CBD) land to the smart city SPV. Owing to this, our SPV may be the richest in terms of valuation at present. Also, we have taken up most of the initiatives that we reconsidered in pan city. One key project is the smart pole and intelligent street lighting project. Through this project, we have attracted an investment of Rs 6.90 billion. Also, our ambitious public bike sharing project has become the benchmark for other cities to follow. As we speak, over 38,000 users have been registered and are using this scheme on a day-to-day basis. Further, we have implemented an ICCC in Bhopal that not only integrates services in the city on one platform but also those of the seven cities selected under the Smart Cities mission in the state. This is the first cloud-based ICCC that will be coming up. And I am proud to mention that most cities are replicating our ICCC. We are also working on an incubation and innovation centre, which will commence in May 2018. Overall, Bhopal is progressing well as far as smart city project implementation is concerned.
Tell us about projects that have been awarded so far.
In total, we have identified over 64 projects of which more than 22 have been completed so far and around 18-19 are underway for pan city. For ABD, as the government has allotted the necessary land, we are now in the process of commencing work on infrastructure-led projects. We have completed the DPR and are in the process of awarding them soon. Among these, a sizeable number of projects have been taken up on PPP basis. With 342 acre under ABD, our smart city offers huge opportunities for stakeholders, including construction, infrastructure, technology and water.
A major challenge for any smart city is raising funds. What funding options, other than from the Centre and state, can be explored?
I do not see funding as an issue in Bhopal, but spending is. In the past two years, Bhopal has received Rs 2 billion each from the Government of India and the state government. I mentioned spending as a problem because the SPV needs to identify bankable projects to attract private investment.
The challenge is to mitigate funding as well as keep it self-sufficient to generate revenue from various available sources for sustainability. In our case, we have been lucky that the state government has handed over a big parcel of land which, if developed and marketed properly, can monetise around Rs 60-70 billion. Recently, I witnessed many municipal corporations opting for municipal bonds and financial instruments. We do not see any reason for a SPV with sound financials to raise funds from the market and pay interest to investors.
To share a quick update on city developments, write in at Feedback@ConstructionWorld.in