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Thursday, 18.04.2024
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001

Government should change its approach to execute Smart City works in Panaji

The issue as regards making Panaji a Smart City seems to be constantly hounding the local public. This is because the Smart City works being carried out by Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd (IPSCDL) have not only gravely affected the daily life of the residents and business community from the city, but also become nuisance to those visiting Panaji. According to the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs, till November 2023, of the total 35 projects worth over Rs 936 crore to be taken up in the capital city, 16 projects worth over Rs 341 crore have been completed while 19 projects worth over Rs 594 crore are at various stages of implementation. All these works are expected to be completed by June 2024. Incidentally a labourer involved in the Smart City works and a 21-year-old youth have both lost their lives due to, what appears to be, negligence on the part of the contractors involved in these works. In addition, there have been serious traffic problems in the city, besides roads caving in at various locations, raw sewage flowing on the roads causing major health risk and water pipes being damaged due to the carelessness of the contractors.

Interestingly many citizens, in the absence of an authority to address their Smart City works-related inconveniences have turned to Utpal Parrikar, son of former chief minister and ex-city MLA, late Manohar Parrikar, requesting him to help them out from these regular hassles. It is quite surprising that Utpal is being approached for assistance as he is neither a city MLA, nor holding any position of authority. The only logical thing he could do is meet chief executive officer and managing director of the Smart City project Sanjith Rodrigues and make a few suggestions to improve upon the ongoing Smart City works.

Some of the suggestions which have come from Utpal includes carrying out safety audit of all dug up places in the city and improving night-time visibility wherever pits have been dug; quality audit of the Smart City works, including checking the quality of slabs used on footpaths; completion of these works in a time-bound manner; and regularly interacting with residents and business community from Panaji until the works are completed. He also said that Smart City works-related accidents in the capital city are only symptoms, while the real causes of these problems need to be addressed, which are corruption, incompetency and indifference towards the grievances of public. A suggestion was also made that Rodrigues should set up a team to oversee all these problems.

Rodrigues, on the other hand, maintained that safety measures were in place at Mala where the 21-year-old lost his life after riding into a pit dug up for laying sewerage lines. He also maintained that an inquiry has been initiated into the fatal accident, and if the inquiry report recommends additional safety measures then the IPSCDL will direct the contractors to comply. Now, taking such measures after a life has been lost is like digging of a well after a house catches fire. Incidentally, taking suo motu cognisance of the death, the Goa Human Rights Commission has issued a notice and called for reports from the managing director of IPSCDL and chief engineer of the public works department. The Aam Aadmi Party too has now entered the fray and filed a complaint with the police against the negligence in the Smart City works.

Following the voice raised by Utpal against the alleged irregularities in the Smart City works, the wheels of administration seem to have started moving. The government has convened a meeting to discuss the issues related to Smart City projects on January 10.

Aiming to make Panaji a Smart City and being smart enough to achieve this task are two different things, and should not be mixed up. The way in which Smart City works are being carried out in Panaji, is for everyone to see. Therefore, the approach towards executing the works of the Smart City project needs to be changed. Safety of the citizens is most important and there should be no compromise on this.

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Quelle/Source: The Navhind Times, 06.01.2024

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