Many Indian cities including Delhi may be aspiring to be “smart” but that’s easier said than done. Singapore which is now working towards positioning itself as the first “smart nation” has done it through meticulous urban planning to use land, water and power most efficiently. Masagos Zulkifli, Its Masagos Zulkifli, minister in home and foreign affairs who met Indian journalists on Friday as part of media visit organised by Singapore International Foundation (SIF) said Indian cities first need basic planning to make lives comfortable for people.
Zulkifli said Singapore government is open to developing Delhi as a smart city but it depends on the Indian government who they finally choose. “Singapore can help the new government led by PM Modi short circuit the process of becoming smart. Discussions have started and we have some proposals on the table. They have to decide who they will work with. There are concerns with land acquisitions and a good legal mechanism needs to be put in place first. If you displace people, it may turn into a social problem. We are open to building Delhi, ” he said. Zulfikli also clarified that industries need to be clean, processes in place so they don’t pollute or such a project may fail or cause more trouble to residents.
Some of the smart cities that Singapore has helped develop are Suzhou, Tianjin and Nanjing in China. At the core of Singapore’s urban planning is efficiency as the tiny island is just about 718 sqkms doesn’t have land to make room for housing, transport, industry and open spaces. So, Singapore’s smart cities like Tampines, Zulkifli’s constituency has workplaces, shopping malls within walking distance. It has 11.3 km of cycling tracks connecting people to all amenities in the town that’s also efficiently connected by Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) and bus. “We need to first understand what the city is about. Is it a professional city where most people go to work, what are its cultural nuances and then work towards making communities. Housing shouldn’t be just buildings but developed like community with efficient transport like cycling. Planning for sewage in a way you don’t have to dig again and again, ” he said.
In Singapore, most of the monitoring of utilities is being done on sensors. According to the PUB, Singapore’s national water agency about 1000 sensors are currently monitoring for leaks, breakdowns, supply and Indian cities may have to adopt high end technology to be able to track such a network. All rainwater is tapped by the Singapore government through as layer of underground drains. Rainwater contributes to 25% of its total consumption, treated sewage water (25%), desalination (25%) and another 25% from Malaysia as part of bilateral contract that’s going to expire in 2061. Singapore’s smart city concept is high on sustainability with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) looking to build lifts on FOBs to make walking a possibility for all age groups, even people with disabilities. It has now 100 km of cycling tracks and huge sheltered pedestrian walkways in various parts of Singapore.
Researchers at the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at Singapore University of Technology and Design told TOI there are talks in the government about how Singapore can be developed like a “car-less” city in the future to address land scarcity. Zulkifli however felt Delhi is improving. “When I visited 20 years ago I couldn’t even stand outside now I can even eat on Delhi’s roads. I think your previous chief minister has done a good job.” Speaking about Singapore’s diplomatic relations, he said “We follow the rule of law here and we want countries to also follow that. That is why Singapore is one of the best arbitration centres. We want India to prosper and ensure China follows the rule of law. If India, China and US are strong there is better balance,” he said.
Source: Times of India
Dated: 15th November 2014