- Tejaswi S Naik, Municipal Commissioner, Bhopal Municipal Corporation
Located in the heart of India, Bhopal is known to be one of the greenest cities in India. The capital of Madhya Pradesh and the 14th largest city in India, the City of Lakes, with its rich heritage, is charged up to get to the next level - it has taken the Make in India campaign, Smart Cities mission, Housing for all by 2022 and Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan effortlessly in its stride. Tejaswi S Naik, Municipal Commissioner, Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC), shares more on upcoming projects and developments in the city with CW.
Tell us about the corporation´s role? How will Bhopal continue to maintain its ranking of being among India´s top promising cities?
In making Bhopal a promising city, the municipal corporation is at the helms of affairs supported by other agencies. Being the seat of power has also helped transform Bhopal into the city of this century, with adequate inputs and interventions coming by its way at right intervals. Now, we stand at a juncture where we are confident to take that leap, to be in league with the best cities of the globe. Our vision for the future is clear, we want Bhopal to meet global standards in all aspects of smartness, resilience, environmental impact, heritage and culture.
How do you see the city's contribution to Make in India and Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan?
BHEL set shop in Bhopal in 1952 and remains the mainstay in industries of the city. Bhopal is catered to by two industrial sites of Govindpura and Mandideep, with the Budni textile cluster not far away. With semiconductor industry setting shop and the upcoming Bhopal-Indore industrial corridor in process - which will link Bhopal to DMIC - the future looks all the more exciting. For Make in India to sustain, you need that kind of human resource as well, which Bhopal can offer with its tally of 120 plus engineering colleges. Bhopal is a city known for its clean and green roads. We have been studying the experiences of other cities regarding solid waste management (SWM) in order to avoid past mistakes. Citizen involvement is the key to success of any government scheme, and with Mayor Alok Sharma leading the city in the Swachh Bharat programme every Saturday morning, the scheme has gained popularity with the general public. Under his leadership, efforts are also on to modernise waste management.
What are major developments and upcoming projects?
BMC has chalked out elaborate plans for SWM transfer stations, retrofitting of energy-efficient LED lights, conserving lakes, heritage zones and smart card system to bring all the essential services to a single platform for citizens´ convenience.
As part of its IT initiatives, BMC is toying with an idea of installing telecom signal receivers on the street light poles to strengthen telecom connectivity.
The Corporation takes pride in being India´s first and only urban local body to have fully implemented Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). It is also successfully operating the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), having the longest corridor of 22 km in the city, which has led to a reliable and faster mode of transportation to the residents.
Further, BMC has 14 lakes under its limits along with an elaborate plan in place for the conservation of these lakes. it has a pan-city vision of replacing its old ´piyao´ (water dispensers) with potable water ATMs. The corporation also intends to provide citizens free water to drink and cross subsidise it with commercial marketing.
Moreover, the corporation has floated tenders to engage a private firm to develop four ´She Lounges´ under build-operate-transfer (BOT) mode for women. These lounges will be equipped with all basic amenities, available free of cost.
Besides, the corporation has decided to replace conventional streetlight bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights to slash electricity bills and conserve the environment. Currently, the city has around 45,000 streetlight poles being maintained by the Bhopal civic body.
Bhopal generates around 700 metric tonn of solid waste every day, which consists of nearly 60 per cent of green waste. That said, BMC will set up bio-methanation plants to generate methane gas from solid trash and restaurant wastes to reduce carbon footprints. It can also be used for commercial purposes.
Further, efforts are on to convert water hyacinth (lake wastes) into manure. Once operational, the civic body will not charge the people to convert manure from hyacinth.
There is also a plan to develop at least 10 garbage transfer stations in Bhopal. Another ambitious project in pipeline is to provide smart cards to people having properties in their name in order to pay property tax to the civic body. It is a futuristic project that envisages bringing all the essential services like petro card, BRTS and library cards to a single platform to make citizens´ lives easier.
Considering several challenges faced by the corporation, what initiatives are being taken to overcome the same?
In the past year, we have been gaining funds because it was a transition period. This year´s budget is like a vision document on how to move forward, so we have been trying to increase our income. One thing we are working towards is reducing fuel consumption. Also, our project smart card system will be launched soon.
How do you view Bhopal's potential to make it to the smart cities´ list?
We are confident that we will be on the list as we have all the requisites. At present, the smart city challenge is quite different from the traditional smart city tag. We also have many projects lined up, including LED lighting, which will enable Bhopal to become a smart city. Smart card is ambitious. For SWMf, we have an ambitious plan to link all our paths, which will have a compound gate and limited openings. Currently, we also operate a 24-hour call centre. We have our own fire brigade; we have a control room. We want to bring everything under a single umbrella including traffic police so that we are responsive. We are also coming up with a vehicle tracking system that will cut down diesel use.
Where does growth potential lie?
The upcoming Bhopal-Indore industrial corridor will add to Bhopal´s growth trajectory. There is also lot of scope for the software sector. We have a rich cultural heritage and maintaining heritage is also a prime area of focus for our chief minister. Madhya Pradesh is known for eco and heritage tourism, and Bhopal is its hub with tiger safaris like Satpura, Ratapani and heritage sites like Sanchi, Bhojpur, Bhimbetka in the vicinity.
Bhopal is lauded as the ´City with no traffic-jams´ by visitors, now we are ready for the next stage of having a robust MRTS after successful implementation of BRTS. We are making provisions for the PM´s vision of walk to work and paid bike sharing (PBS) where one will be able to cycle through the famed parks and gardens of Bhopal.
Introduce us to the upcoming projects for which tenders will be floated?
We already have 12,000 houses and have been involved in distribution, which is an ongoing project. In accordance with the vision for 2022, we are coming up with over 50,000 projects for the urban poor. Tenders are to be floated for the 30-storey BMC headquarters; flyovers at Kalimata mandir, Bairagarh; grade separator at Rangmahal, Board office, Lalghati; ROB at 11 mile, Rachna Nagar; cablestay bridge on lower lake; Skywalk at Roshanpura chowk; Pul Bogda commercial complex; synthetic courts for tennis, basketball and cycling; Biomethanation plants and transfer stations; modern fish and meat market at Bittan.
Bhopal Municipal Corporation
Year of Establishment: 1967
Total area under BMC: 463.52 sq km
Population: 2 million
Annual budget: Rs.2,745.60 crore