Sunday, 4 June 2017

Town Planning in Smart City

Development of villages/towns/cities is undertaken for centuries. However, it is noticed by a common man that same mistakes or shortcomings are repeated over and over again. Some examples are non availability of safe footpath/sidewalk for use by pedestrians, non availability of public sanitary facilities within reach; specially for women, absence of traffic control etc. Although, solution can be easily found for these needs, in practice these are always neglected. Negligence can be considered as main hindrance. Space can be found even in existing places. New places must be planned considering all needs irrespective whether big or small, less or more important etc. Common man expects many things from smart city. You may glance at expectations.  In development of villages or rurl area there is an inescapable need of educating villagers about the government plans. All social workers and those in administration must give due consideration to this need.

Space is considered as a major hurdle. However, even in new places where space can be planned adequate importance is not given to important and inescapable needs.  Planning fails in developing road crossings. Inescapable need of hawkers, toilet facilities and other facilities are never given importance. Hawkers, parking space for public and private vehicles are inescapable necessities of citizens. Citizens do need health facilities, old age homes, repair shops and similar facility as close to their residence as possible. Citizens do need security for residence and many other facilities which even so called smart cities do not offer. Every city/town/village can be made smart in this respect without spending extra money if planned properly.

These facilities can be provided in existing townships with little cost to the residents. It is accepted that space is not available at ground level. However, no one can stop town planners from exploring vertical space. A simple example is parking space. Some cities have provided wide roads in the cities/townships. However, these roads become ineffective because of vehicle parking. Parking space can be found just above the roads at appropriate height, generally 6 metres above road, this can be joined by four roads two each on both sides of the road (one for reaching parking space and the other for leaving this place). Another advantage of this arrangement is crossing road for ‘U’ turn. This principle can be used for providing place for hawkers, retail shop keepers, repair shops for home appliances etc. Many places it may be needed to explore underground space also. Road crossings are an example where underground space could be provided to hawkers.

Local governments have tried many methods for shelters for city bus commuters. None of the efforts have succeeded. Local governments should try bus stop for commuters under flyover. This means all road vehicular traffic except city buses should use flyover over bus stop and city buses should use lane touching centre of the road. In fact this lane should be exclusively available for city bus throughout. Any other vehicle crushed by city bus on this lane should be considered as fault of the other vehicle driver and city bus driver shall not be punished. This single law shall be adequate to ensure that the rule is followed strictly. The side advantage of this bus stop is availability of space for washrooms, parking of bicycles, hawkers and home appliance repair shops etc.

There is a need to accommodate singles coming to cities/towns. At least facility for their accommodation separately for male and female must be available at negligible cost in at least in smart city.

Although space is a big obstacle in cities, there are many constructions in progress around cities. In fact these constructions never provide solutions to problems faced in the city on the other hand increase problems many folds. Such construction need to be stopped forthwith. Planning is the most important aspect in developing cities; existing as well as new. So far we followed western architecture in expanding towns. While following this we have totally neglected not only Indian conditions, Indian expectations etc. but also western arrangements for establishing communication with old town. Most probable reason is savings required to keep cost low. We could have found some methods to reduce cost instead of communication facilities. These facilities are highly needed and lack of these makes life of citizens miserable.

It can be understood that certain facilities although inescapable can’t be provided in old area of the town/city. However, it is miserable to see that these facilities are not even planned in virgin area of the town/city. This indicates how selfish we are and our concern about citizens. Such indifference can be removed by citizens only, through various methods specified to get grievances addressed. Examples are unauthorised construction, accommodation for shelter less citizens, repair and other shops needed by citizens staying in a society, first aid medical facilities, old age homes etc. These can be constructed at construction cost using a small law. Citizens always plead that they can afford construction cost but not the land cost (Land cost is considered as a primary reason for unauthorised construction).  The Government can make arrangements to fulfil this wish. Make a law for construction such that in a multi storey construction for residential purpose will allow 1 floor per 4 floors to be constructed for providing facilities needed by citizens. Floor area of this floor shall not be considered while estimating FSI for the building. This means construction on 1 floor per 4 floors shall be part of free land. Hence, construction on this floor shall cost just construction cost. This would allow low cost accommodation for present JJ colony occupants, small shops, domestic appliances repair shops, old age homes, space for first aid facilities and similar inescapable facilities.

General tendency is to blame citizens for not following traffic rules. However the traffic authority forgets that action can be taken so that citizens follow rules and can’t avoid rules. A few examples would illustrate this. Let’s consider underage vehicle drivers. Age at entrance to school is fixed. This means all school and junior college children are under age. Even first year students in senior college may be under aged. In spite of this, we find a large number of two wheelers are used by these students. Naturally these students drive without proper driving license. If the student and their respective parents are made to visit police station a few times and the principal of school/college takes strict action against such students this problem can easily be solved within available man power of traffic department. Another example is controlling speed of vehicles on road. Present system of road construction is providing vehicle breakers (traffic department call it as speed breakers) can never solve this problem. Speed breakers must be constructed in increasing stages to reduce speed. Initial one should indicate that speed of vehicle is higher than suitable for safety. Next and successive speed breakers should be such that if speed is reduced these should support drivers. However, if speed continues over safe limit, must tell driver that the driver has neglected warning and may have to face vehicle breaker in a few meters. Number, type and distance of speed breakers should be worked out with practical experimentation on road. Still another example is controlling traffic at road crossings. General experience is vehicles stop on and after zebra crossings. Vehicles which need to turn left stop on extreme right and vice versa. Vehicles which aim straight road crossing stop on extreme left side. All these can be stopped by proper road construction. Traffic and engineering departments can find a solution and publish it or share with similar bodies.

Smart city needs cashless transactions. In order to accommodate illiterate persons a rule should be made every merchant/service provider must accept cashless payment in a manner payer wish to pay. Some may use ATM card, some others credit card or some others UPI method or whatever method approved by the government. This compulsion on traders and service providers shall ensure tax payments in addition to non use of currency notes. Presently if bill for goods or service is not insisted upon by the customer most of the traders not only agree for transaction without bill but also give 10/15% reduction in cost. In order to ensure payment with bill there is a need for giving tax concession and free cashless payment meaning no taxes by money transferring agency (mostly banks). This arrangement is needed not only for smart cities but for every place in India.

Smart city shall attract

We need an independent facility (Where police have no access) for registering grievances/FIR. This facility should be like  a single window meaning complaint registered shall automatically be transferred to appropriate i.e. to police station responsible for investigating/processing act specified in complaint i.e. police station having jurisdiction over the area where crime takes place. On the other hand to ensure false complaints are not registered, police should have authority to approach court for false complaint. Court should give severe punishment to respective complainant if complaint is proved false.

The government is forced to take additional burden of deciding upon rates and charges for goods and services. We have accepted free trading and have accepted that rates shall be decided by market meaning shall be decided by production cost, demand and supply. The government should not directly interfere in market prices. Let’s consider example of education institutes fees. The govt. should restrict her responsibility to the extent such institutes fix fees of various items in a period specified by the government. Fees fixed by authority shall be published on a big board in school area giving every detail and within specified time period. Letter size should be such that citizens would read and understand it. Institutes shall fix fees and shall be able to change only during specified time. Citizens have right to choose institute for their children. Hence, no institute would fix abnormal fees as every institute has to remain in business. This is applicable to other markets like hospitals/dispensaries, various shops, food etc. A provision is needed in food supply. There should be warehouse for safely storing food grains. Banks must offer suitable loan amount on stored food grains. Banks should be allowed to charge interest on advance given and recover entire dues on a fixed date decided by the government. Some politicians are more interested in fixing rates rather than allowing market to decide on rates. Apart rom personal finacial benefits these politicians are more interested in cheap popularity. This practice must be stopped.

Smart city needs a provision for accommodating new comers and future expansion without compromising facilities available for citizens. Cities/towns attract job seekers. There must be a system for accommodating job seeker in a transit camp. Every city/town must develop a mobile app for registering every person who wants to work in that city/town. The government must provide suitable single accommodation for a fixed time period decided by the government. All such citizens should be given choice to buy permanent accommodation for family within certain time period as fixed by the government. In case the person fails to arrange permanent accommodation for his/her family, he/she should be deported to his/her original place of residence. None should be allowed to stay in a shack constructed on forcibly occupied land. Law must be passed for forcibly throwing of occupant from such shack without any warning/notice.

Smart city must have micro-planning. Apart from security and communication all short coming faced in existing towns and cities must be addressed effectively. Examples are FootPath/SideWalk, Place for Hawkers, Cycle Tracks, WashRooms; especially for women, Parking Places for Vehicles etc.

There is great discussion on using wet garbage for plants around and in houses, plastic for road construction/repair and metals for industry. A solution like this is simple reliable and does not need many resources. Local government bodies can give free training to citizens and start this venture without much investment. This is not only simple and cheap but also reliable. Some 1 can investigate reason for not adopting this method and may get PhD (doctorate).

There is hardly any facility for learning traffic rules/regulations. In all cities gardens are provided for citizens for relaxation and exercise including yog practice. In smart cities these should be modified to include learning of traffic rules/regulations. Space with approximate width of 6 to 10 metres should be reserved for bicycle exercise, jogging & larger trees. There should be divider between cycle track and jogging track with width of 1 to 3 metres. This divider should accommodate large trees and signboards showing traffic rules. Thus every citizen can learn rules while doing exercise or while relaxing. This will prove to be a better method than working for achieving targets of fine charged to citizens breaking traffic rule.

Smart city should have most of the things online. This should include tickets for all types of transport facilities, hospital facilities, parking facilities, entertainment facilities, registration facilities etc. Further instead of asking citizens to approach government offices, Ofices must approach citizens with preplanned and well advertised programmes.

1 comment:

Madhav Bamne said...

Can you get permission from state government to construct 1 floor in each oh four floors in building for which floor area shall not be considered while estimating fsi for the building. Accommodation constructed on these floors i.e. where floor area is not included while estimating fsi shall be used for following purposes.
1. Residents in JJ Colony who can pay for accommodation at the rate of construction cost.
2. Accommodating parents of residents of building who canno afford to pay for independent room for parents at normally rate i.e. land cost+construction cost+ builder's profit.
3. First aid health centre.
4. Medical shop.
5. Domestic appliances repair centre.
6. Daily need shop.
7. Vegetable shop.
Accommodation for purposes 2 to 7 shall be owned by the housing society & income from these shall be used for maintenance of the building.

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