- Raj Cherubal, CEO, Chennai Smart City
The glory of Chennai city dates back over 376 years. Notably, it was the first city in India to adopt and implement the Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) policy—in September 2014—to encourage and promote pedestrianisation. Metrorail has been partially commissioned for a 10-km reach and Cetro Transport Corporation has a fleet of over 4,000 buses. Mobile app-based waste bin clearance monitoring system with GIS-based interface to check the status of bins and GIS-based vehicle monitoring systems are in place since 2013. The city has 5,275 km of water distribution mains and 3,643 km of sewer network. Further, an100-mld desalination plant has been added as an alternative reliable water source. Chennai was selected in the first round of smart cities by the Government, where it got the 17thrank, and subsequently the Chennai Smart City (CSCL) SPV was incorporated. Raj Cherubal, CEO, Chennai Smart City, shares more on projects and opportunities with SERAPHINA D’SOUZA.
What is the vision for the city?
The core objective of smart cities is to improve liveability. The vision of CSCL is to make Chennai a universal cultural hub for safe and sustainable living with enhanced mobility, smart urban infrastructure and increased resilience to physical, social and economic challenges.
Tell us about current initiatives under the smart cities programme.
We have received close to Rs 9.35 billion to implement projects across varying themes such as mobility, governance, energy, public spaces, water resources management, etc. Of 36 projects, we have already completed 15; these include 28 smart classes, converting SVL to LED lights, connecting missing links in stormwater drains, a pedestrian plaza, 23 pedestrianised streets, bicycle tracks, etc. Besides, projects on the anvil include a parking management system, bicycle sharing system, restoration of waterbodies and an integrated command-and-control centre (ICCC), among others.
Are there any other proposals to be invited in the coming months, in terms of preparing DPRs, or any tenders to be floated?
Apart from the smart city projects, the SPV is looking forward to implementing projects for an optical fibre cable (OFC) network;Mega Streets,which includes redesigningthe major road network; data acquisition andmonetisation agency;intelligent transport management system (ITMS);and an SPV for land utilisation. CSCL is set to renovate and transform 46 Corporation-run schools through the Model & SMART Schools project, at the cost of Rs 95 crores.
What about projects being developed under AMRUT?
AMRUT is under the scope of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC)and the corporation is implementing several projects under AMRUT through its various line departments. Wherever a convergence is possible, CSCL will collaborate in its implementation.
Apart from the smart city projects, please share the core infrastructure projects planned for the city. What about smart transportation systems and roadworks?
The Mega Streets project is one such ambitious project, where the main road network of the city—over 100 km—is expected to be redesigned with state-of-the-art amenities and facilities for citizens. Additionally, the ITMS project is planned to be implemented with funding from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to the tune of Rs 6.60 billion. This will completely alter the transport and traffic management systems in the city. For smart mobility, the projects under implementation already include a bicycle-sharing system and 23 pedestrianised streets. A parking management system is yet another project under progress. Further, one of the projects to be tendered out is a skywalk connecting the Mambalam railway station and T Nagar bus terminus. This will greatly reduce the congestion of pedestrian movement near Usman Road and Ranaganathan Street. In future, we expect GCC and CSCL to be involved in e-vehicles and e-transport projects.
What about tenders to be floated for installing LED lights, constructing multilevel parking to address traffic issues, IoT and safety and surveillance-related works?
The Electrical Department under the GCC has successfully completed 100 per cent conversion of all sodium vapour lamps in the city to LED lights. A multilevel parking facility is already under construction in Thanikachalam Road junction at T Nagar; it is expected to be inaugurated by mid-2020. Almost all the smart city projects are being implemented with the help of an IoT infrastructure. For surveillance, the ICCC project aims to have CCTVs installed in 500 locations across the city. There will be central monitoring and integration with emergency services such as police, fire department, etc.
Also, tell us about the various aspects of effective waste management, water or power distribution undertaken in the city.
GCC has undertaken a massive effort to revamp the solid waste management policy in the city and will soon floattenders to initiate newer methods. For water and power distribution, the smart city SPV has undertaken projects with TANGEDCO and CMWSSB on innovative improvements like smart metering, censor-based devices for tanker filling posts, smart water meter for bulk consumers, etc. The total cost of such projects comes up to Rs 1.85 billion. Most of the projects have been tendered out and are under implementation now.
What about efforts taken by the corporation to maintain the city’s heritage?
While CSCL has not taken up any heritage-related project directly, we are working closely with organisations such as the Chennai Metro Rail,whichis building a Central Square near the Central Metro, for the renovation and upkeep of heritage structures like Victoria Public Hall and the Ripon Building.
What are the current challenges faced in the city’s development? What strategies are being applied to overcome the same?
One of the major challenges that has come up through several stakeholder discussions has been to improve Chennai’s resilience during disasters, decongestion of roads, safety of women, ensuring 24×7 water availability and renewable energy. Based on these, the smart city initiative has adopted several projects that are aimed at restoration of waterbodies, augmenting stormwater drain networks to reduce water logging, a joint safe city project for women, promoting solar rooftops, LED usage, etc. In fact, CSCL and GCC are together involved in the restoration of 210 waterbodies, 15 temple tanks and a large water body like the VillivakkamTank—all intended to improve the groundwater status and provide enough outlets for water during monsoons.