Ludhiana Municipal Corporation Commissioner GK Singh tells Meenakshi Verma Ambwani of the city’s peculiar challenges. Excerpts from an interview:

How will the smart city project address Ludhiana’s air pollution?

To cut down on private vehicle use, we want to double the number of city buses from 100, and ensure they are efficient, comfortable and convenient. We plan to make Ludhiana a bicycle hub and are partnering with NGOs and corporates to develop cycle tracks. We will also develop car-free zones around the key markets.

How will you get people to switch to public transport?

In Ludhiana, people like to buy big cars. Changing people’s mindset and creating an awareness will take time. We cannot expand our roads, and even getting space to set up multi-storey car parks is a challenge. But an efficient, convenient city bus service will go a long way.

How is the smart city programme proceeding?

We have written to the government to constitute the Special Purpose Vehicle and have requested them to appoint its CEO. An advisory committee, which will have the Mayor, DC, MPs and MLA, has convened the first meeting.

I believe that if the 19th century was the century of empires, and the 20th century was the century of nation-states, the 21st century will be the century of cities. The onus is on cities to offer quality living.

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