Nagpur Smart City: The next big opportunity for big players

Nagpur Smart City: The next big opportunity for big players

The winter capital of Maharashtra was recently facilitated nationally for its intent to scale up walking and cycling transformation and accelerate the progress of street design projects. The city has also been garnering attention for its Maha Metro project that has been breaking multiple infrastruct...

The winter capital of Maharashtra was recently facilitated nationally for its intent to scale up walking and cycling transformation and accelerate the progress of street design projects. The city has also been garnering attention for its Maha Metro project that has been breaking multiple infrastructure and engineering records – the latest for its longest double-decker viaduct as on the date of printing. Chinmay Gotmare, CEO, Nagpur Smart City (NSSCDCL), talks about the multiple opportunities in the city and offers his insights on its progress.Please take us through the initiatives that have been implemented under the Nagpur Smart Programme.The Smart City Mission has been undertaken by the Central Government of India and the state government in partnership. In Nagpur, the implementation has been done in two parts: area-based development (ABD) and pan-city intervention.As part of ABD, we have areas of Pardi, Punapur, Bharatwada, and part of Bhandewadi. For these, retrofitting type intervention has been envisaged. ABD zones address planning for areas of Nagpur that have grown and developed in an unplanned manner. This development has been ongoing from about 2018-19. This had been envisioned as a Rs 650-crore project comprising properly planned routes with utilities provided in a proper manner. Thus, if you have to repair certain utilities, you don't have to disturb the road. This is a common problem in most cities where any utility management activity, repairing or renovation affects the infrastructure. This project, called as TenderSURE project, will plan the development under the retrofitting model of an existing area. This is a brownfield project.With regard to pan-city interventions, we have established a ‘smart strip’ with adaptive traffic lights and sensor-based street lights. This regulates energy consumption. Also, CCTV cameras monitor signals, automatically capturing anyone who jumps a signal. Further, we have recently taken up about 23 fresh projects with a cost of about Rs 185 crore under pan-city interventions. These include projects for e-governance, smart schooling and sewage and waste management.Keeping in mind the need for hygiene and sanitation, how has the city progressed on its plans to set up 100 e-toilets?We have recently given the work order for e-toilets or smart toilets. This is in response to the shortage of good, clean toilets around the city, especially for women. These will have features like auto flushing and sanitising after every use, and can be controlled remotely from the central operations centre (COC). The order is being carried out by Eram Scientific Solutions, a Bengaluru-based company.We are also working on something called ‘smart bins’. There are public waste bins of about 1,100 litres capacity, which have a volumetric sensor installed on top. So, as the bin fills up to a particular level, say 80 per cent, the sensor signals our COC, which responds by dispatching a garbage vehicle to unload them. This ensures the bins do not spill over, which is a major problem across most cities. This also aligns with the Swachh Bharat Mission of making cities cleaner. We had published tenders for this more than once as there are few players in the market for this. And to ensure fair competition, they are still active.What other development projects are you executing?We are upgrading six schools under the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC). These are being provided with both hardware and software requirements including smart schooling and e-learning modules compatible with our State Board in four mediums: English, Marathi, Hindi and Urdu. So, the order will include civil work to repair and renovate the buildings and work to install IT infrastructure. Similarly, we have three existing libraries that will be improved infrastructurally and will be provided e-library solutions, where every subscription will be covered online.Apart from that, we wish to eradicate manual scavenging of manholes for cleaning. Tenders for these are currently live, also to ensure fair competition. The work order is for robotic scavenger machines that will enter manholes, especially in narrow lanes. Further, we have floated a tender for 25 e-buses with operation and maintenance for 12 years. While 15 e-buses were purchased earlier on behalf of the smart city, we will procure 25 more and hand them over to the NMC.Tell us about the security and surveillance upgradation you have done and any upcoming projects in this direction.We have approximately 3,600 CCTV cameras, which are monitored centrally by the COC. These have been of help to the police, resulting in an uptick in their detection and conviction rates owing to readily available footage. These are jointly operated by the civic and police authorities. They also help in disaster management by showing what areas are getting flooded and so on.In an attempt to improve urban mobility, we are planning to erect 75 bicycle stands at public locations around Nagpur, such as in government offices, and are also planning to install 13 EV charging stations. We are currently finalising the locations in coordination with the NMC.A good number of tenders have already closed. For example, we undertook GIS mapping of sewer drainage lines as well as LIDAR surveying of sewer lines and storm drains, so that the data is available readily. Tenders that are live include ones for the e-library, robotic scavenger, e-buses and smart bins. Past tenders included work orders for developing some internal roads and the construction of a police station, both in our ABD area.What were the considerations for incorporating the cycling track?We have a shared track – we have not divided the road but only marked it. If you have a dedicated cycling track, the width of the existing road decreases and there are limitations on space; you either compromise on the footpath or the road width. There might be a demand for a barricaded cycling track from cycling enthusiasts but it is not a requirement currently as the load on the track is not the same as for two-wheelers and four-wheelers. Of course, it could be a possibility in the future. What we identified as the bigger challenge was a space to securely park cycles upon reaching a particular place to protect them from the weather. Thus, we decided to provide bicycle stands at 75 locations across the city and we incorporated advertising facilities to generate revenue.Another initiative is providing automated multilevel parking. Tenders for this have been closed and we have received bids. We are planning to implement puzzle parking and rotary parking, for cars as well as motorbikes. The final decision will be taken based on their specific locations depending on what is feasible.Is there any project you are directly involved with or is close to your heart?Schooling, definitely. I want to improve the schools because I believe it is our responsibility to provide a good education to everyone. Smart schools are one of the projects I am looking to work on, along with providing good libraries with access to the best sources available. The next project on my list is the transition to robotic scavenging because in the age of technology, it is abhorrent for a human being to still have to enter a manhole to clean it.Please share the amount invested in the smart city programme and from where it has been sourced.The proposed project cost for ABD has been Rs 650 crore for TenderSURE and that of the whole project, in line with the original Smart City Mission, is Rs 1,000 crore. Of this, 50 per cent share of the funds has been provided by the Central Government and the remaining 50 per cent is equally shared by the urban local bodies (ULBs) – NIT and NMC – and the state government.Any final words?Nagpur has the geographical benefit of being centrally located and it is a fast-growing city with a strong intent. The speed at which the Nagpur Metro was developed, for instance, was one of the fastest, making this a rich opportunity for any big player to come and contribute in output.There is a limited scope of innovation in the government sector as there is a lot at stake. Innovation or experimentation always comes with the inherent risk of failure. No innovation has succeeded in the first shot. We have the famous example of Thomas Edison who failed a thousand times before he succeeded in making the lightbulb. The Smart Cities Mission is a sandbox that has allowed healthy experimentation and sparked innovation.

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