Ghaziabad had once been named the hottest city by news magazine Newsweek. However, the city struggled to live up to expectations of this tag with a range of problems plaguing it, including deteriorating law and order and crumbling infrastructure. But now, it has suddenly got another shot in the arm after making it to the Union urban development ministry’s longlist of 98 cities for the Narendra Modi government’s ambitious smart city project, ahead of its more illustrious neighbour Noida, and even Gurgaon.
The city is among the 13 in Uttar Pradesh, which has most nominees on the list. The other cities from UP are Lucknow, Moradabad, Aligarh, Saharanpur, Bareilly, Jhansi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Agra and Rampur. One more city (Rae Bareli or Meerut) is yet to be named. Ghaziabad had an overall score of 82 points in an assessment conducted over 20 different parameters. It also stood 138th among 476 cities in the Swachh Bharat rankings; factors that helped it score over its neighbours in NCR and make the cut. But the city will have to wait before it raises a toast. All states will now send a proposal to the urban development ministry detailing civic and infrastructure development to be taken up. Based on these proposals, 20 cities will make the final list of places that will be developed as smart cities.
Experts said there is reason to believe Ghaziabad could make it to the final list because of its superior infrastructure compared with other cities in UP. The city is extending the Metro network from Dilshad Garden to New Bus Stand and has also started work on building 18km of cycle tracks. The district administration, municipal corporation and Ghaziabad Development Authority now need to put their heads together to align infrastructural work to the parameters laid down for smart cities. GDA secretary Ravindra Godbole said, “The central government can be assured that all government agencies in Ghaziabad will work towards achieving these parameters. The concept of mixed land-use is already there in Ghaziabad. We will introduce it to more areas if the need arises. We are committed to developing open spaces and green lungs.”
Godbole also said planning on introducing a variety of transportation systems was being worked upon. “The Dilshad Garden-New Bus Stand Metro corridor is advancing fast in terms of construction. More transportation networks like the Hindon elevated road project and inter-linking NH-24 with NH-58 via the New Link Road are in various stages of completion,” he added.
One of the key visions for smart cities is to create walk-able localities and reduce congestion. The Metro and cycle track projects will give Ghaziabad an advantage. The realtors association said growth should be aligned with the smart city vision. Gaurav Gupta, general secretary, CREDAI, Raj Nagar extension, said, “Smart city is a concept that makes life easier. It is not just technology but also waste discharge, transportation, delivery of services, etc. By confirming Ghaziabad as a potential city for the smart city mission, it is assured that everyone, including real estate developers, will work towards providing such an environment.”