Saturday, December 10, 2022

Cover Story


By Shailaja Sharma


Pune flags off India’s Smart City Movement


On 25th June 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commemorated the 1st anniversary of the Smart City mission in Pune. A pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the venture was launched in June 2015 with the government releasing the guidelines and mission statement for the 100 Smart Cities project with a total budget of `48,000 crore spread over 5 years. The Pune event also witnessed the launch of the ‘Make Your City SMART’ contest aimed at continuing citizen participation in the planning, as well as a Smart Net Portal, which would enable the participating cities to share ideas and source solutions. Modi also launched of 14 smart city projects. Pune is the second largest city in Maharashtra and the ninth most-populous city in India. Whether it’s the picturesque landscape dotted with hills & tekris; or the ancient wadas (once the realm of peshwas); or the illustrious music festivals like Savai Gandharava; from quaint chai tapris to indulgent alfresco brunches to lively nightlife; Pune packs an intense burst of diverse experiences. Plus with a participative citizenry, an AA Fitch rated municipal body, & sterling educational centres, the city has attracted a horde of MNCs and young professionals to set-up base here. The industrial township of Pimpri-Chinchwad alone (just north of Pune city) houses over 4000 manufacturing units that contributes to the city’s economy.


Pune is also the headquarters (south command) of the Indian Air Force and has a large military training base. A new IT park by MIDC, a Food Cluster Development project, aided by the World Bank, and an International Exhibition and Convention centre are some of the upcoming large scale investments in Pune. An enviable mix of all the above factors has helped Pune being ranked amongst the top 5 FDI destinations in India and the 2nd biggest software hub in the country.


It is no surprise then that Pune won the second spot in the smart city challenge competition amongst a total of 98 cities from 23 states. It also ran the most comprehensive citizen and stakeholder engagement campaign touching more than 50 per cent of the households The winning cities were adjudged based on various parameters like cost effectiveness, citizen participation, feasibility and smartness of the proposal. Bhubaneshwar won the top score of 78.83 percent followed closely by Pune at 77.42 percent.


The need for smart cities

Cities have emerged as the central engines of growth for the economy. Modi called them the leading social structures capable of mitigating poverty in the country. Nearly 31% of India’s current population lives in urban areas and contributes 63 per cent of India’s GDP (Census 2011). With increasing urbanization, cities are expected to house 40 per cent of India’s population and contribute 75 per cent of India’s GDP by 2030.

This growth trajectory requires all-inclusive development of physical, institutional, social and economic infrastructure of the city to remain viable and sustainable.

So what exactly do we mean by a Smart city? How do we build one? And how does a smart city change the lives of its inhabitants and businesses that transact there?

The term "smart city" conjures up different images for different people. For example, Songdo, a smart city in South Korea, has sensors planted throughout the city, monitoring everything from temperature to traffic patterns. Waste is automatically extracted out of each house into a central system to create compost. All buildings are eco-friendly and equipped with telepresence. While in Barcelona, widely regarded as a benchmark for smart city technology, pavement sensors guide motorists to park, and sensors in the soil switch on irrigation systems when the dirt gets dry.

The smart city interpretation therefore is subjective and depends upon the quantum and scale of development, availability and quality of communication and social resources and the readiness of the citizens to change and evolve.

The seamless incorporation of technology in the very infrastructural base of the city forms a critical part of the Smart City initiative. The Wall Street Journal reported that by 2025, the market for smart city technology alone could reach $1 trillion annually in Asia alone.

As the trend for smart and future ready cities catches on globally, the concept is essentially centered on the ‘livability quotient’ of the city.

A smart city is more than a product of its infrastructure. It is in fact an inclusive living document of its inhabitants, keen to evolve and embrace new possibilities, yet retaining its own distinctive culture in every street and building. You might have the best tea in a leading 5 star, but the taste of a hot piping cup savored in a tiny Amrutalaya nestled in a by lane in Deccan retains its own special charm. Smart city is about inclusive and perceptive growth, one that is sensitive to the defining character of very city.


Action Plan – Modules
  • Physical infrastructure: Setting up new technologies and optimization of existing infrastructure. This module mainly comprises of hard infrastructure projects like transport and water sector.
  • Affordable housing: 20000 houses to be built in next 10 years for the urban poor.
  • Customer care: Setting up a centralized customer centre for addressing customer queries, grievances, enquiries, billing information and payments enable through an efficient, transparent and multi directional information infrastructure.
  • River water cleaning: Clean up of untreated domestic and industrial wastewater, garbage, open defecation. This module also included beautification of Mula, Mutha and Mula Mutha riverbanks.
  • Riverfront development: Develop 44.43 kms of riverfront to add both aesthetic and economic opportunity for the city. A 3.5km riverfront development project is proposed within the local area development plan for ABB.
  • Goods and services: ensure that a good basic standard of services rated on parameters like delivery, timeliness, information provision, reliability, accessibility, professionalism are provide across public services.
  • ICT - with Right of way: enable transformative change through information & communication technologies (ICT) spread across various sectors of the city.
  • ICT - without Right of Way (Right of Way): Various ICT projects such as smart parking, metering, traffic modeling related to transport, water and governance sectors have been identified.
  • LED: Project to replace 3070 streetlights with LED lamps with wireless control to save energy.
  • Create self-sustainable open Spaces like natural ecosystems with social as well as economical benefits.
  • Skill Development & Health Care: Motivate, prepare and support urban poor to opt for skill enhancement training course and finally sustain a career or a micro-enterprise, which would ensure their livelihood.
  • Smart Grid: Instate technology including sensors, communications with computational ability and ensure customer participation to integrate renewable generation & storage of reliable and quality availability of electrical power.
  • Solar: Install rooftop solar power systems to create distributed generation that help meet area’s power needs.
  • Startup Zone: Nurture the entrepreneurial ecosystem to create more start-ups as well as opportunities along with cost-effective real estate and good infrastructure to leverage large technical talent available
  • Transit Hub: Provide the public transportation services with smooth intermodal interfaces and travel route connectivity to promote higher usage.


The Smart City Model


Kumar explained that the objective of Smart Cities Mission in India is to promote cities that provide a seamless mix of core infrastructure and ‘smart’ solutions to give the best possible quality of life to its citizens, in a clean, inclusive and sustainable environment with the lowest possible use of resources.

“While each city is different in India, the key challenges remain common. Interaction, debate and discussion is vital to ensure 360 degree engagement of citizens, corporate and government bodies to ensure balanced and inclusive growth.”

A 15 member special purpose vehicle for Pune smart city, i.e. Pune Smart City Development Corporation (PSCDC), has been set up with a 50:50 partnership between the state government and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), to oversee and implement Pune’s smart city plan. Pune has so far received `200 crore in this financial year, out of a total assigned `1,000 crore.

In the first phase, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) conducted a detailed desk review across 12 sectors through crack teams consisting of 40+ sector experts to come up with detailed SWOT – Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat analysis of the city. PMC also collected suggestions from over 125,000 families to understand their vision of smart Pune. Based on the collated feedback, 15 concern areas were identified,

In the first phase of its implementation, the expected investment in Pune Smart City is Rs 3,000 crore and includes 15 projects, with eight of them focusing on the local area development for Aundh-Baner-Balewadi and seven looking at pan city. The eight projects under local area development include pilot project of redesigning streets, footpath retrofitting, making place on roads for social activity, junction redesigning, rainwater harvesting, low income skill development and health care, LED lighting and solar roof top and e-governance centre to provide single-point place to enable citizens to avail various civic facilities.



Pan-city development

  • Investment of about `700 crore expected in Pune city in next five years
  • The mission will focus on fixing two of the biggest citizens' concern - mobility and water
  • Improve public transport through better availability and reliability
  • Smart Pune public transport system on the anvil
  • Efforts to achieve the benchmark of 50 per cent public transport use, which is just 18 per cent today
  • Reduce congestion through 'Intelligent Pune Traffic System'
  • Ensure equitable distribution of water (150 litres per capita per day)
  • 24x7 water supply
  • Best in class customer experience


Area based development

  • The PMC has selected Aundh-Baner-Balewadi (ABB) for areas based development
  • This area will get investment of about `2,200 crore in five years
  • The aim is to transform livability across all dimensions to match global standards


Key Outcomes


  • 100 e-buses
  • 8 km BRTS
  • Overhaul of 54 bus stops
  • 100 e-rickshaws
  • 42 km bicycle track
  • 60 km footpath redesign
  • Increase in average speed by 5 kmph
  • Public transport use up from18 per cent to 40 per cent


  • Reduction of water deficient areas from 65 per cent to zero
  • Building seven reservoirs
  • 50 km pipeline
  • 100 per cent water metering
  • 10 per cent recycling


 Open spaces

  • 4-10 per cent increase through 13 parks
  • Development of 3.4 km riverfront area



  • Increase in jobs from 10,000 to 45,000 through start up hub
  • More commercial offices
  • Promoting walk-to-work


Citizens' services

  • E-governance
  • ABB Punetel card
  • Single window desk


In fact the Pune’s vision towards ‘mission smart city’ has also garnered attention from foreign shores. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to the UK last year, Britian announced that it will partner India in developing three cities – Indore, Amravati and Pune – by providing financial and technical assistance. Together, the UK government and UK businesses will establish new Centres of Excellence’ in key sectors, starting with a centre for Automotive and Advanced Engineering in Pune.”


Speaking on the development, Arun Firodia, Chairman, Kinetic Engineering, said “There is a unique possibility of combining auto and electronics. Pune can become a leader in auto-electronics. Since England too is good at it, together, we can do a great job in this field,” he added.


Also once the key modules of development were identified, the civic administration then invited companies from all over the world to offer their insight and solutions on the best ideas and practices.


“We can no longer remain distant from the developments taking place across cities globally. While we are not looking a single city role model, we are open to adopting the best practices from across the globe. In fact, we were the only city in India to create an overall master plan based on proprietary econometric model has been created that will make Pune future ready up to 2030.”, Kunal Kumar, Pune Municipal Commissioner added.


Over 175 companies globally registered for the initiative. Out of which, 150 companies from a broad section of countries like Britian, Belgium, Germany, Singapore came down to Pune to participate in a 2 day presentation seminar and exhibition organized by the Pune Municipal body on 15th June 2016.


Best solutions from across the globe were discussed. Kunal Kumar gave the example of the meet held over water resource management, where in a German company went beyond the usual solution set of post leak resolution strategies to talk about pre-leak detection technology.


“Insights like these significantly elevate the whole level of discussion and help in creating new benchmarks for the resolution of a particular problem. For example in this case, we might actually revise our tender requirements to make room for these new innovations.” Kunal Kumar explained.


“The tender process for the projects would be initiated with immediate effect,” Kunal Kumar added.


So while the enthusiasm for the Smart Pune drive runs high on a conceptual level, we decided to interview a wide cross section of corporates based in Pune to understand their vision and expectations from the Smart Pune model.


Topping the list of concerns were traffic congestion, poor road infrastructure, lack of basic civic amenities, need for seamless transportation, waste and sewage treatment.


Subash Cipy, CEO, Cipy Polyurethane touched upon the fact that while the journey to become smart city is an ongoing process, we have to essentially begin with providing the core fundamental amenities to citizens, including clean drinking water, a good road infrastructure, a well equipped transportation system and proper sanitation for all citizens. The idea should be to first strengthen the core infrastructure of a city by combating issues that affect common people at the ground level.


He also stressed the importance of giving encouragement and due acknowledgment to companies who were involved in indigenizing technology and products to reduce the country’s reliance on imports. “The 'Make In India' idea needs to be implemented on ground with active reforms for the manufacturing sector, especially in the area of taxation.”


While Kalpesh Chitroda, Director, Maris Polymers India felt that in a bid to develop and smarten our cities we must not lose sight of its distinctive character and spirit. Smart cities should ideally be planned by citizens by empowering and encouraging them to co-create solutions that can make their cities more efficient, resilient and inclusive. “


“Haphazard development can actually mar the very character of the city. A simple example would be to take an aerial view of the Deccan from any nearby hill. The whole area looks green and covered with trees, while the same view in the upcoming areas of Pune looks sparse, dry and heavily polluted. Also extensive real estate development without significant addition in roads or parking facilities has led to immense traffic congestion in the city.”


“Growth has to be citizen focused and citizen led. To enable this, the local governing bodies have to mobilize public support and participation by increasing awareness about the initiative at the ground level.”, he added.


Alakesh Roy, MD, Zamil Steel India, while hailing the Smart Pune movement, added that it is critical to develop areas around Pune to relieve some of the enormous strain faced by the city to meet the needs of the expanding population. Zamil Steel which set up operations in Pune in 2008 with a full fledged Pune facility is capable of producing end to end, complex pre-engineered buildings with the production capacity of 60,000 MT per annum. The company is already working on several high profile projects in the country including the recently completed Boeing Hangar in Delhi for the Indian Air Force- C17 aircraft and the first chocolate factory for Mars Chocolate in India at Khed


“While Pune with its qualified work force and liberal environment has always offered a habitable business environment, the provision of well developed MIDC areas around Pune with provision for affordable housing especially for the poor will go a long way in attracting investments to the city while ensuring balanced development.” One well-known example of such green field development is the GIFT City in Gujarat.


He also raised the issue of high electricity tariffs, multiple levels of taxation and octroi affecting the entry of investment into the city. Plus the poor connectivity of Pune with the national highways, a small airport as well as poor road infrastructure are key challenges on the road to the ‘Smart City’ movement.


Says Rahul Katyal, Managing Director, Capacit’e Infraprojects, Pune is a wonderful city balancing the modern and traditional ethos of the Maharastrian culture. With the IT and Industrial boom, the city has seen rapid modernization and growth in the last decade. This led to tremendous pressure on the existing housing and infra. It was imperative Pune had to be chosen to be developed as a smart city. Pune has the largest population of two wheelers vehicles after Bangalore and that is the main cause of concern in Traffic management. Hence there are huge traffic snarls during peak hours backed by rising four wheeler population. As a part of the Smart city initiative one need to fix the problem of Parking in Public areas and also address the need to have elevated corridors to decongest the junctions during peak hours.


Lot of initiatives has been started like the ORR, By Pass roads, Metro Railways, Bus stop redevelopment etc which will improve the situation in the future.


Pune badly requires an International Airport as there is always a concern area for MNC’s who want to expand in Pune. As of now this issue is address by Mumbai, where Pune is looked as a Satellite town with best connectivity through Express way. But in the future it needs an Airport.


Smart housing, furnished and affordable serviced apartments for the beginners, self-integrated township are the need of the hour for Pune.


Abhijit Lunkad, CEO, Birla Shakti Concrete emphasised stricter implementation of laws as a critical move to empower and sustain the development process. “While India has a large number of laws, most of them are complicated with varied interpretations in various states and situations. As a result a lot of time is wasted in understanding and implementing them. The focus should be on creating simple and easy to understand laws with more emphasis on stricter implementation.”


He also highlighted the need to ensure active partnership of both the public and private sectors in the development process. Talking about Birla Shakti Concrete’s role in the movement, Lunkad said, “At Birla Shakti Concrete, we call ourselves ‘future ready’ and being ahead of the technology curve remains our critical USP in the market. The real-estate market in Pune is evolving from one characterized by low-rise structures to high rise residential and commercial buildings with new-age construction technologies like slip form construction gaining ground.


We are confident that measures like Smart City will spur the demand for quality constructions, which in turn will spur the demand for large batches of high performance concrete of consistent quality. We are well positioned to partner our customers to pilot new ways of creating sustainable and innovative building solutions.”


Rajas Jain, MD, Kumar Properties feels that in many respects Pune is already a smart city. “An intelligent and socially aware community is an active component of any collective development process. The educated class of Pune understands and appreciates the need for a smart city. So we are starting at an advantage here. I think the government too saw an opportunity here. It is no wonder that our Prime Minister flagged off the Smart city movement from Pune. Yes, there will be political and social hurdles, but I am hopeful that the turnaround will be much quicker here. The Pimpri Chinchwad area is a good example of smart infrastructure planning because they have got an intelligent and active municipal governing body.”


“Challenges for Pune are mainly centred around creating a seamless transportation system, road infrastructure, efficient treatment of sewage & waste and lastly river cleaning. An active administration and participative citizens can create significant improvements. One example of this is the Sabarmati river in Gujarat, which was restored with civic participation. Also adequate and good quality public transport is the need of the hour. Separate pedestrian and cycle pathways can significantly mitigate traffic congestion in Pune.


“Smart cities need smart business structures. As cities evolve, future urban development should focus on creating intuitive and integrated living & work spaces, which can support a robust landscape and are environment friendly. Kumar properties has over 50 years of experience in designing and leading real estate development in Pune. We are looking forward to partnering with local government bodies to offer our knowledge and understanding that can help build successful smart cities with a tangible impact on quality of life.”


Aniruddha Deshpande, Managing Director, City Corporation Ltd says, "Our biggest contribution to the urban planning and real estate is building first “Smart City” in India. Amanora has become a Case study for the whole of India. Amanora is being developed as a modern suburb of Pune with unique features like state of the art physical, social, healthcare, sports, educational and digital infrastructure is being developed and maintained by the promoters themselves and we operate as privately managed local body. We promoted concepts/innovations like calling our residents as Citizens not customer, walk to school, mall and hospital, award winning solid waste management system, first use MIVAN technology which improves quality and speed of the construction, world’s first environmental temple in the township, 24x7 water, power and gas. We introduced prepaid power and gas meters, eco-friendly transport within township, smart card which is a debit card, entry card, health data card. We have 24x7 help desk to attend our citizens. We buy raw water process it & distribute 24x7. We used 100 per cent recycled water for gardening, flushing construction purposes. We bulk buy electricity from the state electricity board as a franchisee & distribute retail to our township citizens in which we reduce the distribution loss significantly, allow prepayment discount to the citizens. Our state of art infra includes own fire station with 55 M hydraulic platform which even many municipal corporation do not possess.



The stage is set for the ‘Smart City Mass Movement’. Pune with its rich cultural and natural heritage, strong citizenry, and active business environment seems well positioned to lead the drive.


Only time will tell how this movement pans out.

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