Tuesday, September 1, 2015

MUSINGS FROM PRIYADARSHINI KARVE: Sustainably SMART Pune

I am very happy to announce that Samuchit Enviro Tech will be leading an ambitious study starting from October 2015. Our idea is to draw a plan for a sustainably SMART Pune in 2030. 


Let me first clarify that this initiative has nothing to do with the SMART city mission. It is true that the discussion about conducting such a study was triggered by the national level discussion on SMART cities a few months ago. However, Pune being shortlisted among the first list of 100 smart cities and this study being launched at about the same time, is just a coincidence. We do however hope that through the study we would be able to create some socially and environmentally positive impact on the SMART Pune project, whenever it gets launched. 



So what exactly is our idea? 


We see that there is not much clarity about what exactly is the meaning of SMART city in the Indian context. All the examples of so-called SMART cities in the world are in the developed countries. In the context of the developed world, SMART essentially means IT-enabled governance and operating systems. However, IT-enabling becomes possible if first a system is in place! Therefore in the Indian context, a SMART city will have to first and foremost focus on creating efficient and effective systems of governance, and in the process make use of IT and other responsive technologies to enhance the quality of life in an urban space. 


But what exactly do we mean by quality of life? Whose life are we talking about here? The other feature that separates Indian cities from the cities in the developed world is the huge social and economic differences between the various strata of urban society. The needs and aspirations of these socio-economic groups can be vastly different. Indian cities also have a huge floating population - from itinerant construction labour to students to IT professionals! So there is a huge socio-economic disparity in this group too! And what about the future citizens of the city? How are their needs and aspirations are going to be met? There are many unanswered and some unanswerable questions. 



Some of us therefore started thinking - how can we achieve development of a city like Pune that is (a) socially equitable, and (b) environmentally sustainable. In other words, is it possible to create a governance system, that will give a fair chance to EVERY member of the WEAKEST section of the city's socio-economic pyramid to improve her own quality of life, without putting an unsupportable burden on the local and regional resources and environment. 



The idea gathered momentum, and we have managed to raise some funding to launch this study, and have started working out the details. If you are living in Pune, and would like our city to retain its historical claim of being a progressive city in thought and action, I am sure you would be interested in knowing more and contributing to this effort. 

Please feel free to respond to this blog, or write an email to samuchit@samuchit.com, to know more!  





                                                                                        Priyadarshini Karve
Director
Samuchit Enviro Tech