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Smart City Proposal for Shimla: Citizens provide feedback at SMC’s engagement session

SHIMLA- On Thursday, an engagement session was held at the Hotel Holiday Home in Shimla to invite suggestion regarding preparation of proposal to win funding for capital city of Himachal Pradesh under Union Ministry of Development’s Smart City Project. Representatives of various independent organizations including Himachal Watcher and social and environmental activists were invited to put forward their suggestion. The session was chaired by the Joint Commissioner of Shimla Municipal Corporation, Prashant Sirkeck, and Deputy Mayor of the City, TikendarPanwar. If selected, Shimla will receive a funding of Rs. 1,000 crore for development as a Smart City.

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Himachal Watcher was in attendance at the engagement session and provided suggestions which mainly included environmental issues like dealing with monkey and stray dog menace, solid waste management, and various forms of pollutions (air, visual, noise, light). While majority of representatives couldn’t talk beyond sufficient supply of drinkable water, electricity, and public transportation,some of the participants failed to understand the purpose of the session and rather focused on complaints.

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However, some relevant suggestion that were given during the session include medical and other facilities for senior citizens under single roof, development of infrastructure that offer convenience to the differently-abled people, and decongestion of the city. Only a few representatives pointed out the lack of sufficient old-age homes and shelters for destitute women and their maintenance.
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Majority of participants sought relief from increasing traffic congestion for which they suggested widening of roads, making some roads one-way, developing infrastructure for trams, controlling entry of large vehicles including those of tourists into the city.

The discussion mainly focused on the fifteen points that were to be rated on a 15-point scale.

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After recent, weeklong blackout in Shimla, numerous suggestions were put forward to put the power-supply lines underground.

Negligible suggestions were received regarding development of smart infrastructure to introduce Information and Communication Technology.

Himachal Watcher’s Suggestion

While development of infrastructure is an inherent and major aspect of the smart city project, Himachal Watcher suggested spending on massive awareness campaign to deal with solid waste management including littering. Also, HW suggested that with culmination of littering through awareness, both monkey and stray dog menace can also be controlled as littering of food waste in the city attract these animals. To encourage sustainable and green lifestyle, teaching people about re-use of domestic waste and providing them with technologies such as domestic water recycling was also part of suggestion to receive co-operation of citizens. As suggestion for effective awareness campaign to make people smarter, HW also suggested active presence of civic bodies on social media and use of interactive mediums such as short-films to reach the people.

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Other Suggestions from HW

There were certain other suggestions that HW wanted to put forth, but dearth of time restricted. These suggestions include – retrofitting and regular maintenance of all government hospitals, heritage buildings and tourist spots in the city, video monitoring infrastructure installation in all public places and increase in number of public toilets around the city for public convenience.

HW has been regularly emphasizing on new housing norms in the city. Our suggestions for the Smart City would thus include a housing plan for all new constructions in the city, which would adhere to sustainable and earthquake resistant building parameters.

The session was concluded with final notes from the Deputy Mayor who expressed high hopes to make it into the final list of 20 cities to be selected under Smart City Mission by formulating a strong proposal with the help of suggestion given by the people of Shimla. He also said that more such session will be held to reach other sections of the society in the city.

It was informed that the citizens can also provide their suggestions through Facebook, SMS, and e-mails to the SMC. The suggestions by the public hold immense value as fate of the city depends on the quality of the proposal that will be prepared based on these suggestions.

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