Talks of smart cities have been there for quite some time, but they have started taking part in the imagination of India only recently. After the new 2015 government’s assertion of turning the country into a ‘Digital India’, it looks just a matter of time that we turn into a ‘smart’ nation.
Smart cities mission: Ajmer and Jaipur sprint ahead
Two cities of Rajasthan – Jaipur & Ajmer are soon going to be smart cities of India. The Smart City Mission is a flagship programme undertaken by the Union Ministry of Urban Development working in correspondence to Central schemes like HIRDAY and AMRUT along with the state schemes. These schemes altogether are giving an integrated push to the urban makeover of the two major cities of Rajasthan, the royal capital city of Jaipur and the religiously significant city of Ajmer.
The major boost will be seen on account of infrastructural work undertaken in line with the cities’ tradition and character. Under this Smart City Mission, 18 projects have been completed in Jaipur and 24 projects worth Rs 858 crore are currently being implemented.
Jaipur & Ajmer as Smart Cities – Projects Undertaken
Some of the main components of the said mission constitute the restoration and conservation of the heritage buildings, including rejuvenation of Rajasthan School of Arts; revival of the 14 major “Balois” constructed by kings (work on more than 10 completed) in order maintain the cultural heritage of the cities; creation of cycle pathways and making the city open defecation free (ODF).
A significant share of development objectives in the two cites are agendas taken under national schemes such as Swacch Bharat Abhiyan.
Nestled in the embrace of Aravali hills, Ajmer, known by Ajmer Sharif Dargah and the only temple of Lord Brahma in nearby Pushkhar, is witnessing a major change.
Major technology driven projects designed for city include two satellite railway stations on either side of the present station, development of the historical Subhash Udhyan park. Ajmer’s famous 13th-century Sufi shrine draws millions of pilgrims from around the world every year for which the construction of a multi-storied parking zone having capacity of more than 2,000 cars near the Dargah has been commenced. Other developmental work include the work on a science park, heritage film museum, auditorium and food park.
Rajasthan government has started implementing the Smart City programmes in the two cities of Jaipur and Ajmer as announced by the Union urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu.
Smart City Mission – The Total Project Cost
The funding of the mission is a 50-50 percent partnership of the central and the state government. Under this collaboration, the Government of Rajasthan is implementing urban developmental projects worth Rs 30,000 crore. Jaipur has received an amount of Rs 2,404 crore, the largest amount of the smart cities money pie; where Ajmer has a funding of 1300 crore. These projects are planned to be completed by 2020.
The state has the responsibility to take major decisions upon the course of development to be undertaken, which are bound to be strategically different for different cities. It may range from area-based development to theme based development and further to pan-city development.
There are three major approaches to this development programme, namely retrofitting, re-development and green-field development.
The success story of Ajmer as a smart city include generation of employment, development of Dussehra ground, tourism activities, conservation of water bodies etc.
Specifically, Civil Lines, Malviya Nagar, bus-stand, railway station, Martin Bridge, Daulat Bagh, Madar Gate and Ana Sagar have been included in the proposal for the area-based development of Ajmer. Then there are services like traffic management, street-lighting, intelligence system, safety and security and e-governance which have been considered under pan-city development.