- Pu Zodintlunga, Hon’ble UD&PA Minister
- Mr. K.N. Rai, former Chief Executive (CW&E) and Advisor (Special Projects) DRDO, Ministry of Defence.
- Pu K.L. Rochama, President FLAM
- Officials of Government of Mizoram
- Distinguished participants
- Staff, Students of the University
- Representatives of Press and Media
- Ladies and Gentlemen – In particular greetings to our ladies on the “International Women’s Day”!
The concept of smart cities means different things to different people. As such, its definition varies from city to city and from country to country depending on the level of development, willingness to change and reform, the resources and expectations of the city residents. However, it can be safely said that, to an average Indian mind, the concept of a smart city would mean a wish list of infrastructure and services, which describe his or her level of aspirations. This will need developing the entire urban eco system. The very object is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life, a clean and sustainable environment to its citizens by application of smart solutions. In other words, the concept of smart cities is a bold and new initiative, which also envisages setting a trend to motivate the rest.
The core infrastructure elements in a smart city would include adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing, especially for the poor, robust IT connectivity and digitalization, Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation, sustainable environment, safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly, and availability of health and education infrastructures.
On 25th June, 2015, the Govt. of India had approved the Smart Cities Mission with an outlay of Rs. 48,000 crores covering 100 selected cities of the country wherein, each selected city would get Central assistance of Rs. 100 crores per year for a period of five years. TheMission of building 100 smart cities envisages promoting adoption of smart solutions for efficient use of available assets, resources and infrastructure with the objective of enhancing the urban life and providing a clean and sustainable environment. It will be implemented through area based approach, which will include city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (Green field development) plus a PAN city initiative in which smart solutions will be applied covering larger parts of the city. The distribution of funds under the Scheme will be - 93% as project funds and 5% as Administrative and Office Expenses (A&OE) funds for state/ULB (towards preparation of SCPs and for PMCs, Pilot studies connected to area-based developments and deployment and generation of Smart Solutions, capacity building as approved in the Challenge and online services)
Aizawl has been nominated as a potential Smart City. However, we did not make the cut in the first selection and are hoping to pass the muster in the second call in April this year. Under this scheme a number of initiatives have been taken including Stakeholder’s meeting on the draftSmartCity proposal. The process of floating the RFP, the short-listing has been done and Smart Cities proposal has been submitted to Ministry of Urban Development.
The object of this Seminar is to create awareness and highlight the importance of this issue among the people, especially City dwellers. In this regard, I must compliment Department of UD&PA for taking various initiatives like Essay Competition (among Higher Secondary students and Open Category), creation of Smart City Aizawl page on Facebook, Public consultation on smart city mission, radio talk, concept drawing completion, involvement of NGO (YMA) by sending letters for polling of Smart Solutions, Banners placed around the city inviting suggestion and feedback on the Smart City proposal and Stakeholder’s meeting. It is also heartening to note that the State Govt. is planning to build 20,000 houses for the urban poor in 8 towns which will add to theSmartCity concept.
A smart city, in my view has to be safe. The recent earthquake in Manipur is yet another reminder of the vulnerability of Himalayan States to earthquakes and the consequent disasters. We are in Seismic Zone V which is referred as Very High Damage Risk Zone. It is learnt that stress has increased in the mountains of North East since the Nepal earthquake last year. It has not been fully released in the recent earthquake in Manipur and consequent tectonic collision reportedly indicates possibility of a bigger catastrophe. The Union Home Ministry’s disaster Management experts have warned of a bigger catastrophe, earthquakes with a magnitude of 8.2 or greater on the Richter scale which may hit the already ruptured Himalayan region. Considering that a Smart City has to be safe, I strongly feel that this aspect is essential to be included in the Smart City catalogue.
The building codes and regulatory mechanism in our cities in particular, need to be formulated and enforced strictly. There is a need for Integrated Response Plan for the North Eastern Region. I have suggested to the Central Government that a comprehensive Disaster Audit be done of the entire region and an Action Plan formulated on an urgent basis.
For us in Aizawl, writing is on the wall. Large numbers of our buildings are unsafe and the stakes are high. Collectively, the State Government, Municipality and the Civil Society should do a safety audit of all the buildings. I particularly appeal to our youth and the enlightened civic bodies of Aizawl and the entire State to pick up the gauntlet. We must rise to the occasion and take remedial action to strengthen/reinforce structures and/or vacate them before it is too late.
I thank the Organizers of this important seminar for their noble endeavour and hope to see such awareness programmes leading to creation of a Smart and Safe Aizawl – sooner the better.