Makeover of a City
CLEANEST CITY VADODARA, GUJARAT
Sayajirao Gaekwad, the ruler and social reformer of the erstwhile princely state of Vadodara, left it a modern city when he passed away in 1939. Over the years, though, the city deteriorated due to lopsided development priorities. Seventy-eight years later, Vadodara is set to regain its position as an attractive modern city, thanks to the missionary zeal and vision of one person—41-year-old municipal commissioner Vinod Rao.
Rao has turned this project into a yagna of sorts, with many of the city’s leading residents making sacrifices—primarily agreeing to curtail their compounds so roads can be widened. The area around the city’s railway station has been cleaned, while seven of the city’s 32 lakes have had encroachments removed and are now cleaned and beautified. Over 40 water tanks and sumps are also now clean. Samarjitsinh Gaekwad, the titular maharaja of Vadodara, says, “Rao has put life back into the city.”
The greening of Vadodara goes on with equal zeal too. Close to 500,000 trees have been planted on road dividers and along the sides of roads. Bhupendra Sheth, assistant municipal commissioner, says, “The great success is the survival rate of the trees—95 per cent.” When Rao was posted in Vadodara in June 2016, he made his intentions known by stating he would begin with a 100-day Swachh Vadodara campaign and aim at a Smart Vadodara at the end of 1,000 days. Many felt it was bombastic talk that bureaucrats often make and then forget. Not this time.