Chennaites are finally having a say in the planning of the city’s infrastructure projects. The Chennai Corporation has sought suggestions from the public for the Centre’s smart city project. The website (mygov.ingroup-issue chennai-global-smart-city-making), launched by the Union government to ensure participation of citizens in the project, has received nearly 100 suggestions so far.
“Our aim is to enter the first list of 20 smart cities. Suggestions from the public will make Chennai a strong contender for getting shortlisted as one of the first 20 cities in the country to implement Smart City Solutions in Phase 1,” said a senior corporation official, adding that last date to submit views is October 15. Corporation officials say the city’s commercial hub T Nagar and the chief minister’s constituency RK Nagar are the frontrunners for new projects. However, T Nagar has the edge as a private consultant Jones Lang Lasalle has already prepared a plan and the civic body has met stakeholders concerned. The corporation is considering two major projects in T Nagar -a grade separator connecting Anna Salai and Mahalingapuram by integrating Usman Road flyovers, and a multi level car parking facility . However, the move to build flyovers is likely to be turned down as the Centre is keen to promote non-motorized transport.
Experts say the smart city project is a good opportunity for Chennai to improve its transport infrastructure. Aswathy Dilip of Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP), an NGO which works on transport issues, said mobility is a key problem Chennaites face. “Smart Chennai will be a city with high quality mass rapid transit, safe footpaths and cycle tracks leading to our homes from bus stops,” he said.
Many residents, who have commented on the website, say funds should be utilised to restore water bodies like Adyar, Cooum, Buckingham Canal and Otteri Nullah. “A city with a clean river running through it is the best place possible to live in. Cleaning Cooum will improve health and hygiene of the people,” wrote one Sundar Vannan. Another resident R Chithiravel suggested separate lane for cycles in congested areas. VS Jayaraman, founder member of T Nagar Residents Welfare Association, said the civic body should first crack down on building violations and encroachments.
To make it to the elite list of 20 cities, which will be released next year, a city has to formulate a ‘Smart City Challenge Mission Proposal’. If selected, each smart city can carry out development work worth ‘1,000 crore for five years. Of this Rs 500 crore will be provided by the Union government while the state government will contribute Rs 250 crore. The city concerned will have to collect the remaining Rs 250 crore during the five-year period.