‘Public participation is critical’

| Updated on January 27, 2018 Published on March 07, 2016

Raj Cherubal, Director–Projects, Chennai City Connect

Raj Cherubal, Director–Projects, Chennai City Connect, tells R Balaji about the implications of the Smart City project. Excerpts from an interview:

What changes can Chennai residents expect?

Indian cities have a capacity problem. Governance is in the hands of the Centre and the State rather than the city administration. There are coordination problems, given the multiplicity of agencies. Public participation gets diluted.

The smart cities framework emphasises public participation. If done right, citizens should expect and demand improvement in quality of life for all.

What is different this time?

Each vertical –– water, transport, housing, solid waste –– needs layers of public discussion, policy changes, planning, sustainable funding and maintenance. It is impractical to expect implementation of all this across the city at one shot. Focus on one area of the city enables all the agencies to coordinate. Successful solutions can be scaled up to other parts. Pulling this off is an uphill task, but a focussed mission improves the chances of success.

What policy initiative is needed to drive this?

The words ‘smart cities’ evoke diametrically opposite reactions. Some people hate it as they feel it is about cameras, sensors and so on. Others love it for the same reasons. What we need are policy changes to decentralise city agencies, facilitate citizen engagement and strengthen city institutions so they can govern effectively.

In Chennai, hope hovers on elevated tracks

Chennai: The Makeover Mission

Click here to read about other Smart Cities

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Published on March 07, 2016
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