Smart Cities Mission: Chennai undergoing transformation with development of major infrastructure


PTI, Nov 30, 2023, 9:12 AM IST

Image credit: ITDP India

Pedestrian-friendly roads, smart classes, parks for disabled children, cycling tracks, an intelligent traffic system and rejuvenating water bodies are some of the projects undertaken by authorities in Chennai to transform it under the Smart Cities Mission, according to officials.

A suspension bridge with a glass floor over the Villivakkam lake is also among such projects.

As part of a pilot project, students of a school run by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) in the Kottur area have been provided tablets, through which they are taught by their teachers, an official said.

If the idea is successful, it will be implemented in other schools as well.

Tamil Nadu Additional Chief Secretary and GCC Commissioner J Radhakrishnan said the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) has evoked a lot of enthusiasm among people and that is why the participation is high.

The commissioner said that under the mission, Chennai has been doing a number of activities.

”Specifically, we have created a command and control centre. Then, we are constructing a very important green building, which was awarded the highest rating by the Great Building Congress recently,” he told PTI.

A civic body official said Chennai Smart City Mission Limited, a special purpose vehicle, was formed to transform Chennai into a resilient world-class commercial city that is economically vibrant, ecologically sustainable and inclusive.

The official said that out of the 46 projects under the Smart Cities Mission, 45 have already been completed.

Rajeev Jain, spokesperson of the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, which is mandated to implement the SCM, said Chennai has undertaken some ”very innovative” projects.

”The Pondy Market area, which used to be congested, has been completely redeveloped with a pedestrian plaza and other facilities like an automated multi-level car parking with a capacity of 230 cars, which has made life easier for visitors and shopkeepers as well,” Jain told PTI.

A senior official in the Chennai Smart City Limited said that as part of the SCM, a children’s traffic park has been built near the Napier bridge, a move that is aimed at improving traffic safety awareness among schoolchildren.

”This traffic park enables children to gain hands-on experience in crossing streets alone, or with another pedestrian, or on a bicycle to demonstrate safety challenges in a highly controlled environment devoid of actual motor vehicles,” he said.

In Chennai, the official said, 15 temple tanks and 64 water bodies have been restored. This has helped in maintaining the groundwater level in the vicinity of the tanks and water bodies, he said.

Support infrastructure for the public, such as an open gym, mediation centre and walking pathways around water bodies were also developed as part of the project.

”The Command and Control Centre (CCC), which has been established under the Smart Cities Mission, serves as a decision-support engine for the city administrators in the day-to-day operations and also during exigency situations,” he added.

According to the official, the strategic components of a smart city include area-based development (ABD), in which smart solutions are applied to a selected area, and pan-city development, in which they are implemented to cover the entire city.

Another official said that as part of the SCM, energy-saving LED lights have been installed in area-based development areas.

A total of 6,333 streetlights have been installed in ABD areas. All of them have been converted to energy-saving LEDs. Around 1,772 LED lights have been installed with the help of funds released under the Smart Cities Mission.

Chennai was selected as one of the first 20 smart cities by the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government launched its flagship Smart Cities Mission on June 25, 2015, and 100 cities were selected for redevelopment through a two-stage competition from January 2016 to June 2018.

A cycle sharing system has also been created in the city under which 134 electric smart bike stations have been set up across Chennai.

Under the Smart Cities Mission, Chennai has also developed bicycle lanes to make roads safer for everyone, especially cyclists, the official said.

In May this year, the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry extended the deadline for the Smart Cities Mission till June 2024 following requests from some cities that sought more time to complete their ongoing projects.

India’s current urban population of around 46 crore is projected to double in the next 25 years.

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