This city has been in the top 15 in Global Mayors’ Challenge

This city has been in the top 15 in Global Mayors’ Challenge

Popularly known as Ispat Nagar, Rourkela, has been making headlines with its numerous achievements: making it to the top 15 in the Global Mayors’ Challenge, winner of the Milan Pact Award and among the Top 11 cities in the Nurturing Neighbourhood Challenge by the Ministry of Housing, to name a few...

Popularly known as Ispat Nagar, Rourkela, has been making headlines with its numerous achievements: making it to the top 15 in the Global Mayors’ Challenge, winner of the Milan Pact Award and among the Top 11 cities in the Nurturing Neighbourhood Challenge by the Ministry of Housing, to name a few. Indeed, the city has maintained its track record of successful ongoing projects. Dr Subhankar Mohapatra, CEO, shares more in a conversation with Sneha Iyer... Tell us about Rourkela smart city’s achievements in transforming the city using smart technology. Rourkela One is a city hub project with three major buildings. This includes a building for the integrated command-and-control centre (ICCC), office spaces, a tribal museum and a hockey hall of fame as the city is in Sundargarh district, which has the distinction of providing many players for the Indian hockey team. Rourkela will be co-hosting the Hockey World Cup in 2023 with Bhubaneshwar. We are also developing a state-of-the-art auditorium and convention centre. The other big-ticket project is the Birsa Munda sports complex, which will comprise an athletic track, a FIFA-certified football field and a sophisticated swimming pool. This stadium is a Rs 1.3-1.5 billion project. In addition, we are developing smart roads with underground utilities and ducting in the ABD area which is near completion. With climate change looming large, we have also taken up a huge network of stormwater management. An important part of a smart city is to preserve its culture and heritage. A religious area in the city, Vedvyas, is being developed as a heritage precinct. It is also a local Triveni Sangam, a confluence point of three rivers. Rourkela is also one of the first planned cities because it has India’s first integrated public-sector steel plant that was built with German collaboration. We are developing the surrounding link roads with lighting, decoration and pedestrian pathways. For the upcoming World Cup, we are developing a lot of hockey chowks and vending zones. Rourkela has been a winner and among the top 15 in the Global Mayors’ Challenge for our decentralised cold storage system and we have also recently won the Milan Pact Award. We have also been among the Top 11 cities in the Nurturing Neighbourhood Challenge for which we developed a sensory park for disabled children. We have two surface-level parking areas. The other projects are centred around the overall beautification of the city and the redevelopment of certain markets like Goyal Nagar and NAC Market. Placing an emphasis on sports, we are redeveloping four mini stadiums with all the facilities, tracks and kabaddi pitches. One of the star attractions in our soft development is the rejuvenation of DAV Pond that was previously very slushy. We plan to start windsurfing, boating and water sports in the area. To bring people closer to nature, we are developing a recreational park across 32 acre that will have two artificial lakes for paddle boating, marriage facilities and maze gardens in a pristine forest environment. For small vendors, we developed a market complex in Panposh. Normally, market complexes take up Rs 500-550 million and cater only to bigger vendors. We plan to empower small farmers and shopkeepers economically. Then, of course, we have the intelligent traffic management system (ITMS), a Rs 1.06 billion project that has been awarded to Bharat Electronics (BEL). For all these projects, work orders have been issued and the majority of these will be completed by the end of December 2022 or at the most by April 2023. What is the update on infrastructure development in terms of surveillance systems, traffic analytics, e-Governance and solid waste management? We are already developing the ITMS and ICCC, which includes traffic surveillance, facial recognition, ADLD along with other state-of-the-art facilities. We are integrating solid waste management into this. Odisha has a robust solid waste processing facility with model composting centres and material recovery facilities for wet and dry waste. All battery-operated vehicles are GPS-tagged so they can be monitored and tracked through the ICCC. We will be integrating GIS mapping into all our resources, which will be done by January 15. The first phase of this mechanism will be provided by BEL and its OEM partners. After this, we have builtin a system to integrate newer technologies. Gradually, as problems arise and new technology emerges, we will invite other OEMs to work with us. What about upcoming projects? As of now, we don’t have any upcoming projects because all the funds have been appropriated. Whatever we have coming up are small projects for beautification. Were there any plans for public transportation and mobility solutions? As far as public transport is concerned, we are fortunate enough that the traffic is less and the roads are quite broad. The Odisha government has undertaken a flagship initiative called Capital Region Urban Transport (CRUT) for which the state has also won the UN Habitat Award. Under this initiative, tour buses have been started in Rourkela in December 2022. As of now, we don’t need bus rapid transport systems as the traffic load is not that high. As a tourism state, please elaborate on the emphasis given to preserve the environment. Rourkela has around 2.5 million trees, is surrounded by rivers on three sides, and has a reserve forest running through the city. So we have always been conscious of not cutting more trees and undertaking developmental retrofitting. With the funds we won in the Nurturing Neighbourhood Award, we have been developing and modernising anganwadis and we are trying to create open spaces. A city centre will be developed with the city’s history painted on the walls. Four libraries are in the works for children in slums. An emphasis has been placed on self-help groups formed by women. The 128 parks in the municipal area are managed by these groups at a small remuneration. We have also developed food courts and two vending zones in Basanti, one of which will be handed over to the transgender community. With the upcoming Hockey World Cup and the Birsa Munda International Stadium, we hope to quickly become a tourist attraction. How has the $1 million grant from the 2021 Bloomberg Global Mayors’ Challenge helped the city? We are among 15 cities in the world to receive this award. The city has six or seven big markets where food was getting wasted owing to low shelf life. We developed decentralised cold storage that runs on solar energy for these markets. These are managed by self-help groups that take 40 paise per kg. We plan to scale this and use electric vehicles to provide doorstep delivery. We are in talks with Bloomberg, one of the prototypes is ready, locations have been identified and civil works have already begun. The project will be deployed in stages. After the deployment of two prototypes this year, an impact analysis will be done. The city plans to make a mark in the sustainable food sector. We have Mission Purnanjali to collect food waste. A waste-to-energy plant is in the works for which agreements have been signed. We are also establishing a 20-mw solar road that will cater to the energy needs of the corporate sector. Any message for construction and real-estate stakeholders? Land values are huge here and can compete with any metropolitan city. Recently, a report was published on the cost of land in Rourkela; so, we plan to make some affordable residential and commercial projects. We also have lakes that are ripe for development.

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