Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh: Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Satna, Ujjan and Sagar are the seven cities selected from Madhya Pradesh by Centre under its list of 98 cities to be developed as a Smart City. Out of these 7 cities, Indore, Bhopal and Jabalpur are to be developed first, as per the first round list. Bhopal and Indore will be developed as redevelopment projects while Jabalpur under both retro fitting and redevelopment category. The state government had initially proposed to develop Shivaji Nagar area of Bhopal, but bowing down to the protests, Chauhan government decided to shift the project to North TT Nagar.
The official guidelines for Smart City mentions that the objective of Smart Cities Mission is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ solutions. The core infrastructure elements in a Smart City includes adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation (including solid waste management), sustainable environment, health, education and others among institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan held a high level meeting in which State Chief Secretary Antony DeSa, Principal Secretaries to Chief Minister, Iqbal Singh Bains, S K Mishra and Bhopal Mayor Alok Sharma were present. Chouhan took the decision to shift the proposed site for smart city project to North Tatya Tope Nagar where the smart city would be developed on 280 hectare vacant land. The area in Shivaji Nagar was around 333 acres.
“The site of the Smart City project will now be shifted to North TT Nagar from the earlier proposed Shivaji Nagar, respecting the popular opinion and for keeping intact the greenery and beauty of the area,” Chouhan announced after the meeting.
A government official apprised media about the decision and said, “A high-level review meeting on the Smart City chaired by the Chief Minister today decided to shift the proposed site of the project from Shivaji Nagar to North TT Nagar. The chief minister said it would not be in the interest of the public in view of the green cover and aesthetic value of the Shivaji Nagar area.”
The official release followed the meeting, which quoted CM Chouhan saying, “Given the greenery in Shivaji Nagar… it didn’t look wise to raise high-rise buildings in the area. Hence, the smart city will be developed on a 280 hectare vacant land in North TT Nagar.”
Earlier proposed site (Shivaji Nagar) was hugely opposed by locals, activists and politicians, including ones in the ruling party. The protestors have alleged that since Shivaji Nagar area is already developed, there is no need to spend public money to redevelop it. They demanded that the money should be invested to develop another less-developed area. They also claimed that the proposed development would affect the already present greenery of the area and would do immense damage to the environment. The Shivaji Nagar area already meets most of the guidelines of a smart city and the conditions can be improved by investing only a few crores, why spend huge amount of public money on already developed area, they alleged.
Higher Education Minister Umashankar Gupta also met Chief Minister on Monday morning and apprised him of the issue. He was accompanied by City mayor Alok Sharma. Mayor said after the meeting, “I am thankful to the chief minister that he listened to us and took the decision.”