Chandigarh is known as the City Beautiful all over the world and is perhaps one of the most well planned cities not only in India but all over the World. Designed by the famous French Architect Le Corbusier,it is a city with immense potential to become not only a political but social, cultural and business hub of the region and at the same time maintain its character of being a clean, green and livable city.
My vision for smart Chandigarh is to become a vibrant city and a global destination for tourists by 2030 on the lines of Paris whist maintaining the same quality of life.
Le Corbusier and then Nek Chands Rock Garden managed to put Chandigarh on the world map due their creative genius and foresight. The problem is that after that there has been no real innovation in the city,be it industrial development in the periphery which creates jobs and is crucial for the economy, or any infrastructural development or encouragement of cultural activities that promote tourism. The talented youth are migrating in droves in search of employment to other cities and those from well off families spend crores to educate their children abroad, benefiting foreign governments and institutions while back home our local institutions like PU and PGI are grappling with funding crunch and corruption and lack of infrastructure development. Factories and businesses are shutting down. The economy is under stress due to a non-business friendly environment in the administration.
Another pan city major problem is the rampant VIP raj .Whenever a CM or Governor or high profile politician passes by, roads are shut down causing huge traffic bottlenecks and at times police personnel are deployed throughout the route for the entire day along with armed police guards despite negligible threat perception. In order for Chandigarh to become smart and truly empowered and a global city this major inconvenience to public must stop as this is a huge waste of public money.
For Chandigarh to really stand out and it definitely has all the elements to make it one of the best smart cities in India, there has to be a change in the attitude of the administration from being unavailable and aloof to more proactive and citizen friendly. Old laws especially related to business and infrastructure development which dont pose a threat to the character of the city but hinder development should be scrapped after taking suggestions from citizens on the same.
All the officials and concerned departments should accept online complaints and suggestions and should reply in a time bound manner both on government websites and social media like Facebook and Twitter. Our Foreign Minister Ms Sushma Swaraj greatly helps citizens in distress by solving their problems on twitter. The administration should take inspiration from that and implement the same. This should be made mandatory so that people from all circles dont have to run to departments all the time. This will improve transparency and accountability.
The Municipal Corporation should allow parks in sectors which are lying empty and neglected to be used to host Fetes and fairs by organizations and citizens on a small scale which help in not only promoting small and medium enterprises and generating more revenue for the government so that these can be maintained without stressing the budget. Such a move will also help promote tourism. This concept called Pop ups is extremely popular in London and Paris,based on global best practices and is very sustainable since it is held in a neighborhood park/open space, residents from nearby can walk down and enjoy something unique and different like art,culture,food and music stalls without having to worry about parking or travelling too far thus boosting the local economy. This is also an environment friendly measure.
I only hope and wish that after reading this, the UT administration would reach out to citizens who really love the city and want to do a whole lot more to make it better, smarter and more innovative and willing to experiment with new concepts and ideas.
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