- Published: 13 September 2021
As the Local Self Government Day was celebrated in the State on August 31, Odisha needs to focus at a much greater scale on improving its towns and cities on modern lines.
The cities and towns are facing multiple challenges and the authorities need look to overcome them by mobilising smart solutions in all municipal bodies. It would be a welcome development if a sustainable urbanisation strategy is adopted that would provide much needed resource to manage urbanisation, including its main cities like Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.
Urban area occupies less than 2% of State’s land area, but it houses 17% of the State’s population, while between 60–75% of the population depends upon it every day for earning their bread. At a time of accelerated changes and with complex issues such as climate change, migration, inequalities and pandemic challenging our ability to respond, cities have to adopt new strategies and emerge as leaders. Because cities are facing development challenges, they could be a laboratory of how various issues are addressed like access to services, participation in decision making, distribution of water and electricity, so on and so forth.
Bhubaneswar has undergone rapid urbanisation. Similarly, as centres of innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunity, other cities and towns are hard-pressed to ensure essential public services, housing and clean environment.
How the local Governments respond to the issues and how they manage urban centres and plan for their future expansion is a key concern. As per an estimate, 10 million more people are expected to move to cities and towns by 2040 in Odisha, while a majority of the influx may take place in Baleswar, Jaipur, Paradip, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Puri and Brahmapur. Accommodating the influx sustainably will determine whether the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the climate targets of the Paris Climate Agreement can be met.
Greater consideration needs to be given to demographic and land use trends and minimising environmental damages. These trends should decide our investments in infrastructure, water, energy and transport services.
For closing the infrastructure gap, Odisha will require an additional Rs 50,000 crore of investment in next one decade until 2030. It is a fact that local Government revenues are mostly insufficient and fiscal decentralisation is inadequate to respond to the need.
Intelligent fiscal reforms to improve local revenues are likely to be necessary and the local Governments will need to consider how they can capture land value and use Public-Private Partnerships.
Being located in the most disaster-prone region, Odisha needs to reduce the risk of natural disasters, as millions of urban dwellers are already exposed. By 2030, vulnerable population living in extremely risky areas — along the Bay of Bengal coast, river banks, canals and slopes - is expected to have grown by 50 per cent.
Understanding the risk, Odisha must stress on a long standing community-based disaster risk reduction approach. Yet, this effort needs to be given even greater impetus if local Governments are to achieve risk resilient cities and towns. Similarly, Bhubaneswar and Rourkela are participating in Smart City race and will be hosting the 2023 Men’s Hockey World Cup.
As such, they have to accelerate multilateral cooperation and ground innovative best practices to make a valuable contribution towards inspiring sustainable urbanisation.
Even new technologies hold great promise for more effective urban solutions. From smart grids for energy solutions, or real-time traffic management, to waste management and water systems, smart technologies will enable future cities to operate more effectively.
Cities and towns across Odisha could also make them more inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities. The local Governments do have an opportunity to incorporate universal design standards and systems such as automated access to audio-based communications to improve accessibility to cities for persons with disabilities. Local leadership must encourage smart city developers to use standards which would give persons with diverse disabilities full access to the physical infrastructure.
Autor(en)/Author(s): Piyush Ranjan Rout
Quelle/Source: The Pioneer, 06.09.2021