What every Indian city can learn from Naya Raipur: India’s first truly integrated city

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This article is part of The Chhattisgarh Story series (coming soon to YourStory)

Imagine this. It’s 6 pm on a pleasant Friday evening and you’re bicycling home from work on a tree-fringed dedicated bicycle lane, excited about the weekend ahead. There’s no rude honking around or nasty traffic snarls as the traffic moves smoothly down the 4-lane road. There are no dug-up patches or tangled messes of wires above; because everything from electricity to internet, is efficiently networked underground.

You’ve reached your home that is energy efficient, enjoys 24/7 potable water supply and has every bit of rain water harvested. Also, all the waste water generated by your home is recycled. You’ve also just paid for all your utility services from your moblile.

As the city’s energy-efficient LED lights come alive, you contemplate your options for the weekend: A trip to the jungle safari wildlife park, or a live cricket match at one of the biggest stadiums in the world. All this is not a dream; but a reality in Naya Raipur, which is emerging as one of the best-planned smart cities in India.

Here are some of the fantastic planned initiatives for the city that other cities in India could take a cue from:

1. 27% of recreational and green areas

Green spaces are the lungs of cities. They filter pollutants and dust from the air, they provide shade, lower temperatures and improve the air quality of the city. More importantly, they offer verdant public spaces where people can exercise and socialise. 

As the world faces its first existential crisis in the name of climate change, Naya Raipur is all set to do its bit for climate change by allotting 27% of the land solely for afforestation and greenery, making it the first green field smart cities of India.

Ekatm Path, the city’s 2.2 km boulevard is a paradise for morning walkers, and reminiscent of Raj Path in New Delhi. Purkhauti Muktangan, is a cultural village showcasing the rich cultural heritage and a popular attraction in the city. Recently, PM Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the Botanical Garden in Naya Raipur, and the Jungle Safari which is Asia’s largest man-made forest safari. It’s eco-friendly initiatives also include safe and smooth cycling lanes provided throughout the city to promote non-motorized transport system.

2. Best-practice energy and resource management

Naya Raipur is being developed as a sustainable, modern 'green city' with major eco-development projects such as rain water harvesting, solar energy and internet connectivity. Compulsory installation of rainwater harvesting systems on all buildings helps in conserving the water resources in the city. The Naya Raipur Development Authority (NRDA) maintains 55 reservoirs in the region, which is unprecedented.

Public buildings will also be erected on the basis of the green building concept. Green buildings use less water, optimize energy efficiency, conserve natural resources, generate less waste and have minimum impact on environment. The offices of NRDA and Housing Board Corporation are examples of such buildings.

The smart capital is also accoutred with an underground utility corridor which means that services including water supply, sewerage, telecom and electricity are developed underground. Roads are lit with LED lamps and garbage containers are set up at every 500 meters across the main streets. Also, NRDA is in consultation with institutes like IISC and IIT-Bombay to develop a suitable plan for waste management and disposal system for the city.

3. Inclusive governance and digital citizen services

Naya Raipur will have smart utility services for the residents connected through a well-outreached network of optical fibers and wholly connected to a registered mobile number making it easier for residents to pay their income tax, bills, transport passes, municipal services etc. This system also ensures computerized accountability of all public offices and a database of all complaints to public department thereby making the redressal much easier to track therein.

In its smart city initiative, NRDA is conducting an online citizen survey, seeking priorities, demands and innovative suggestions from people. This is the first time a newly developing town plan is being prepared with public involvement.

4. A digital dashboard for the city

As a Smart City, Naya Raipur will leverage the collective intelligence created by connecting physical, institutional, social and economic infrastructure to deliver a quantum improvement in the quality of life of the local population.

Naya Raipur will have a centralised digitally-enabled Command and Control Center (CCC) which will be the central hub for city management. The CCC will help in managing the city operations and emergency response. Citizen services will give digital platform to citizens to interact with city administration, knowledge management for NRDA Staff, improving overall efficiency of NRDA operations.

The other city management systems include intelligent lighting systems, pay and use parking systems, a digital city guide map, intelligent transport system, city level Wi-Fi touch screens across the city, display boards across the city for providing real-time information, emergency alert and crisis response systems, traffic re-routing applications based on real time traffic data.

5. A zero sewage discharge system

Naya Raipur is a ‘zero sewage discharge city’ equipped with decentralised sewage treatment for better efficiency and advanced water management programs, including wastewater recycling, smart meters, rainwater harvesting, and green infrastructure to manage storm water runoff. The city utilises recycled water from its four Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) for watering trees and plants as part of its massive greening exercise – a smart way to turn green and be environmentally responsible at the same time.

Watch this inspiring video snapshot that captures the key aspects of Naya Raipur’s smart city initiatives: