Dehradun is starting to get ready for its Smart-City makeover with the formation of the Dehradun Smart City Limited (DSCL), the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) constituted towards this end. In this process, five “I”s can be embedded and embraced for the city to emerge as a smart and sustainable one. These can be the bulwark or the foundation on which the Smart City of the future can rest:
Integrate: The Ministry of Urban Development (MOUD) in the NDA government has introduced an array of urban-centric schemes. The Atal Mission for Reformation and Urban Rejuvenation (AMRUT) and the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna – Housing for All are the flagship schemes of MOUD. The forthcoming Dehradun-Haridwar-Rishikesh Metro too awaits the nod from the Ministry. Urban Mobility and HRIDAY are other centre driven programs. DSCL will be well advised to integrate the above schemes in its smart city planning to avoid duplicity and ensure intelligent allocation of resources.
Incremental: Dehradun has 60 wards with an area of 64.4 Sq Kms. With the area-based, retrofitted development plan centered around ten wards (out of which four are partial) and covering an area of 3.54 Sq Kms, 95% of the city area of Dehradun is excluded from the Smart City. We need to ensure the creation of replicable models of urban development that can be used in the remaining wards of Dehradun and the other major cities of the state like Haridwar, Haldwani, Kashipur and others.
Identity: With the Himalayas on its North, the Shivaliks in the South and the Ganga and Yauma in its East and West respectively, the Doon Valley and Dehradun have a glorious, naturally endowed identity. This automatically lends the city an environmental, eco-sensitive presence that needs to be preserved at all costs. This can only happen with a clear mandate and ideology of not only smart but sustainable urbanization which envelopes the Smart City policy and execution spectrum.
Inclusive: Cities are usually seen and appear as masculine entities. This mindset reflects in city infrastructure planning and provision of support services. Cities also tend to usually reward and recognize high-achievers leaving relatively lesser space for women, minorities, transgender and the disabled communities. As we move ahead on the path of making our city of Dehradun smarter, let us retain our spirit of inclusivity and ensure the inclusion of all groups.
Infrastructure or IT: Information Technology or IT is a crucial, critical component of the Smart City. Though there is no debate on the need and use for technology, it will still be helpful to bear in mind that at best it is only an enabler. Today’s technology will also soon become yesterday’s technology. It therefore becomes imperative that the ideology of creating citizen-friendly and sustainable infrastructure should trump over IT.
In order to become a true Smart City, Dehradun needs to be built from the bottom up, with care and wisdom. The five “I”s can be helpful pointers in this journey.
(Author is the Founder Chairperson at SDC Foundation. He tweets at Anoopnautiyal1)