Architecture students plan their own cities
Three award winners tell us how smart cities should be planned, transport systems streamlined and streets made accessible and safe for pedestrians
Youngsters are concerned about the environment. They follow India’s smart city mission closely. They are worried about safety and security of women issues in India’s cities and wonder how things can improve. That is what a recent awards function in Delhi for the best urban planning thesis seemed to suggest.
Hemant Sharma of School of Planning and Architecture - Delhi, won t he annual JP Bhargava award for the best urban planning thesis on the Identification of Future Smart Cities in a Region: A case study of the state of Karnataka.Purva Saxena from SPA-Bhopal won the second award for her thesis on Low Carbon Mobility Plan f or t he CBD: A c ase study of MP Nagar, Bhopal; and Christy Ann Cheriyan of CEPT- Ahmedabad received the third award for her work on Assessment of Transit Transfer Experience, the case of Bengaluru.
Choosing smart cities smartly
When asked about how he got the idea for his thesis, Sharma said though more and more cities were being added to India’s smart cities list, when he visited conferences and seminars related to the mission he found very few people were sure of what they were talking about. This made him take up research on what the smart cities plan lacked and the chances of its success. “It was the same old concept with a fancy new name,” he says.
As for the flaws in the smart cities plan, Sharma says it takes care of a city or a node but seeks to promote islands of development in a sea of backwardness. “What we need is balanced development and not just development in big cities. The smart city concept overlaps with related city concepts such as intelligent city, knowledge city, sustainable city, talented city, wired city, digital city and eco-city,” he adds.
“I looked at aspects such as how even small companies can get greater returns. This mission is going to be funded by public money and foreign aid/loan, so it’s the duty of the government to use the money judiciously. We need good returns. We don’t need to just invest money in a city and get no returns later. As a developing country, we cannot afford that. That’s what my study recommends,” he says.
Sharma’s thesis has been awarded the JP Bhargava award under the Best Urban Planning thesis. For this, he drew up a list of cities in Karnataka that are suitable for the smart city mission. He analysed 356 urban centres of Karnataka on the basis of 17 parameters ranging from availability of water resources, natural drainage patterns, e-governance, physiography, availability of land for future growth to regional transport linkages and mobility. He finally came up with a list of seven cities that included Hospet, Koppal, Mangalore, Ullal, Bijapur, Ramanagara and Davengere.
Sharma is currently working on his thesis in which he is trying to put together a list of smart cities and plans to present it to the government as a proposal.
Buy a car only i f you require one
A student at urban planning at SPA, Bhopal, Purva Saxena was concerned about environmental safety and that is what got her interested in a study on low carbon modes of transport. “The main problem today is the increasing number of motorised vehicles and decreasing nonmotorised vehicles. For most peopleameansof transport represents their status in society. That is the reason why even families that do not require a car buy one,” says Saxena.
Her thesis focuses on promoting low carbon modes of transport and suggests policy initiatives such as introducing no-vehicle zones in the city, promoting e-rickshaws, bike sharing systems and e-rickshaw charging stations.
“If such a plan is implemented, it is definitely going to make life easy for students going to Bhopal to attend coaching classes. My study is not particularly about how the transit system should grow; it is more about how people want it to grow. It is about the changes they want, about how streets can become accessible and safe for walking or when they use such modes of transport,” says Saxena.
Make transport systems accessible
When was the last time you found it difficult to locate a railway platform? Perhaps every time you visited a station? Christy Ann Cheriyan, a student of CEPTAhmedabad, who too faced problems while travelling by public transport decided to come up with a few recommendations based on passengers’ experience.
“I have personally experienced insecurity at bus stations. I feel safety of female passengers needs to be given top priority,” she says.
Her recommendations are