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“As a part of the Green City initiative, we have requested each and every councillors to plant a sapling in their wards, which we have mandated to construct public green spaces for citizens with eco-friendly materials. This initiative is a way forward to enhance sustainable living for the citizens. These open spaces are called ‘Neighbourhood Parks’”, asserted an enthusiastic Secretary, Port Blair Municipal Council, Suneel Anchipaka in a conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW SmartCitiesWorld. Excerpts as under:

Q: Port Blair is one of the first cities which has been chosen by the Government of India under its Smart City Mission mandate. Can you please give us an overview about the key projects that has been initiated so far? Also, what reason or accountability you feel is responsible for the slow rolling out of the Smart City mission in Port Blair?

Precisely, Port Blair is chosen for Smart City Mission of Government of India in 2016, in the first track. Whereas, we have appointed PMC (Project Management Consultancy) only in early 2019- the reason for being so late in this initiation is that even after tendering thrice for the appointment of PMC we could not appoint one because of the adverse conditions of travelling and connectivity, prevailing in this distant land. In the process, we analysed the fact in the first place, how Smart City PMC Conditions in Port Blair is different from the rest of the cities. While in all the other Smart Cities across the country, they are following the Quality come first based methodology, whereas in Port Blair we are following list first method.

Besides we are aware of the fact all smart cities in India are complex in nature in their own ways and are completely techno-economical projects. Also, quality is of paramount importance. Hence, with approval of the Chief Secretary of the Union Territory and Chairman of Port Blair Municipal Council, now we changed our method from list-first method to Quality come First Based methods. With that initiative being taken we have been able to send the first signal to the market that we are keen on recruiting Project Management Consultant. Also, we are aware of the fact that in Port Blair resources are very limited being about 2000 kilometre away from mainland. Also, the local resources here being very meagre, it became crucial for us to engage a PMC to mobilise the projects limited to Smart City in the city to mission deadline.

For Port Blair Smart City, thus it became crucial to complete its back-end procedure, including the pre-bid conferences, which were subsequently held at Andaman Bhawan in New Delhi, keeping in mind of the transportation and commutation gap the island territory suffers from. These initiatives sent a positive signal for the consultants in the business, rendering them a feeling that Andaman is soon to set business goals for all. It attracted about 30 Project Management Consultancy firms to gather in Andaman and Nicobar Bhawan in New Delhi, who expressed their interest to work in Port Blair for developing its Smart City.

Q: How the funds for generating funds are for developing a Smart City in Port Blair, which is not only remotely located from the mainland, but is also having meagre local resources?

Ours is a Union Territory which is under the governance of Government of India. In rest of the cases of Smart Cities, we get funds from the Government of India and an equal amount of fund from the state government. Since, our UT has amateur capacity for fund generation, so we get funds from Government of India in both ways, hence, there is no scarcity of funds here.

The problem faced is during the tendering procedure and participation in tenders by corporate stake-holders due to remote location of the island. Recently, we have hosted a Smart City Conclave also, in which we have requested participating OEM’s and stakeholders to come and work in Andaman’s, which is actually breeding lot of opportunities. By June 2020, we will be having the entire under-sea cable operational in the island, which can eliminate the internet and network issue in the city. Subsequently, we are hopeful that we will be able to rope in many OEM’s contractors and other stakeholders to move forward with our projects.

Q: Kindly elaborate about the projects that are in pipeline or are under execution under Port Blair Municipal Council.

So far, the initiatives under the Port Blair Municipal Council Smart City, we have completed a couple of projects. Early last year, Anadaman and Nicobar Island was privileged to experience, Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in Port Blair. During then we have completed the sea promenade, which is one of the best location in the Andaman’s. To highlight it here, the vision of the smart cities is to create public spaces for citizens and engage them in public places. As a part of that, we have constructed the 150 feet flag mast along with the 100 meter sea-wall and 18 meter depth in the sea, which we have constructed with the help of state of the art technology. The promenade is beautified and is implemented with state of the art technologies like wifi for citizen use, high-end sound system and likewise. As a matter of fact, this is one of the best tourist spots in the city, developed under the vision of the smart city.

Apart from that, in the municipality we have converted 14000 flash lights to LED lights under the smart city. These LED lights are constructed from entirely eco-friendly materials, which are beneficial for the municipality and its locality per se.

We have also procured the smart toilets and it is already located in various locations. As a part of the solid waste management, we are constructing the solid liquid resource management centre and collection centre. With approval from the municipal board, we have already rolled out four SRM centres and several others are in the pipeline.

About the ongoing projects, we are soon to introduce the Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) worth Rs 197 crores, which is an initiative taken to manage the city in a better manner. We have our own data analytics and Artificial Intelligence deployed and are soon going to lay-out our own dark fibre, GIS numbering, adapted Traffic Control System, city surveillance, renovation of the Smart Bus-Stands and door to door numbering in the localities of Port Blair. These are the various components of our Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC).

Also, Port Blair is the only city under the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In a bid to decongest the city at its epicentre, we have spread across the city spectrum. For this we have planned a multi-level car-parking, of which designs are ready and tenders worth Rs 107 crores are just about to be released soon. We are connecting it in two places at the moment, firstly in Netaji Stadium region and the second one opposite to tourism office.

There is another project that is in pipeline, called, the ‘Green Connect’. Tourists who visits the Andaman’s directly go to the Swaraj Deep or the Shaheed Deep. As a heritage city, we want to retain them in Port Blair in a half a day or a single day designed tour of urban forestry. Here, we have beautiful forests, jogger’s park, where one can enjoy both sun-rise and sun-set. Between Gandhi Park and jogger’s park, we have connected 56 acres of city forests in a completely eco-friendly manner, of which the tenders are soon to be floated.

Besides all these, there are several market places across the city in Port Blair. We are planning to construct an integrated market place- which is about bringing all the various market places in the city at one place, which will enable citizens and tourists to avail shopping facilities at a single stop.

Another, notable initiative under the Smart City initiative is the working women’s hostel in Port Blair, intended to ensure safe and sustainable accommodation for women in Andaman and Nicobar Island who travel daily to the Port Blair city for jobs and business. This initiative taken in collaboration with the Social Welfare Department is actually taken to ensure safety and security for the women citizens of the Union Territory. One such accommodation is already constructed which can accommodate about 100 women in a green building and another one is slated to be finalised soon.

Q: Port Blair is known for it being a tourist destination, attracting lakhs of traffic inflow on a daily basis and as a natural tendency is expected to have an increasing trend of traffic congestions. What measures are being taken by the city authority to control this civic issue?

We have perceived our Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) as our Integrated Whole, where, we have included the safety of city, traffic management of the city and adopted intelligent traffic control or management systems as well. Our integrated command and control centre also enables us to strengthen our GIS mapping, GPS enabled vehicle tracking and smart bus stands too. In the coming times, we have plans to procure e-buses for the smart city initiatives too. We also have plans for multi-level car parking for managing the increasing traffic in the city. All these in a whole, when completed will have an integrated and holistic approach to address the growing traffic system of the city. All these components are implemented in the DPR and we are ready to float the tender by mid-December and its completion may take another eight months to one year.

Q: What are the challenges that you face while working in the Andamans’ and how are you mitigating these challenges?

One of the key challenges being located in this part of the country is that we are isolated from the mainland, due to which it poses to be severely difficult to source our contractors, OEM’s or corporate stakeholders, who are at the implanting end of smart city projects. As a matter of fact, we are close to South-East nations than Indian mainland; which in a way is enabling us to boost foreign bilateral trade relationships with South East nations.

It posed to be extremely difficult in engaging the PMC’s for smart city project because of lack of connectivity of the island territory. Also, local resources and man-power is meagre, besides high priced skilled labours travelling from Kolkata and Chennai in large scale.

To address this challenge we host pre-bid meetings in mainland cities like Kolkata, Chennai, New Delhi to generate interests from OEM’s about Andaman’s potential for smart city business and industry.

Q: Would you appraise us about the ‘Green City’ project that is happening here in Andaman?

Our smart city project in Andaman is under implementation in a bottom-up approach rather than top down approach that is endeared in other smart cities in the nation, where we have given paramount importance to all the councillors, thus consulting not only the citizens but also the political leaders for each and every project related to our smart city. As a part of the Green City initiative, we have requested each and every councillor to plant a sapling in their wards, which we have mandated to construct public green spaces for citizens with eco-friendly materials. This initiative is a way forward to enhance sustainable living for the citizens. These open spaces are called ‘Neighbourhood Parks’. As far as dumping yards are concerned, we are looking at bio-methanation options, which some of the stakeholders from Madhya Pradesh have done successfully in the East Delhi Municipal Corporation.

As a matter of fact, Port Blair is one of the best clean cities in India, with hardly any or nil dumping grounds in its streets or locality, but still our rank remained low because of our poor e-Governance factor, governed by poor internet or network connectivity.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Poulami Chakraborty

Quelle/Source: BW Businessworld, 11.12.2019

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