AIILSG, Varanasi Municipal Corporation

URBAN DIALOGUES-BETTER BANARAS

 

Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Narendra Singh Tomar was the Chief Guest at the event. Apart from many Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and State Ministers, BHU Vice Chancellor, Divisional Commissioner and representatives of civil society organisations pro-actively participated in the event

 

All India Institute of Local Self-Government, in partnership with Varanasi Municipal Corporation and Urban Update magazine, convened the round-table conference Urban Dialogues-Better Banaras on August 31, 2017. The objective was to promote, review and deliberate on the implementation agenda of infrastructure development projects, Swachh Bharat Mission and Namami Gange programs among policymakers, municipal officials, academicians, elected representatives, the private sector, and other key stakeholders from within and outside Varanasi. Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Narendra Singh Tomar was the Chief Guest at the event

 

Inaugural Session

 

Varanasi Mayor Ram Gopal Mohley, in his welcome address, said: “When I was elected as the Mayor of Varanasi in 2012, Narendra Modi, then Gujarat CM, called several mayors and chairmen of Municipal Councils to Gandhinagar to take a pledge for making our cities clean and realise the dream of Mahatma Gandhi. Our Prime Minister has a vision of making India clean before the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. All of us have to work together to make this a reality.”

 

Mohley said that AIILSG has been working in all parts of the country to empower urban local bodies and it was necessary for all elected representatives in ULBs to work for the people and ensure they get better and efficient services. Urban Dialogues for Better Banaras would lay a concrete roadmap for building a better future for our city.

 

Neel Kanth Tiwari, Minister of State, Law and Justice, Information, Sports and Youth Welfare, Government of Uttar Pradesh, was the Guest of Honour at the event. In his speech, he said it was necessary to put the culture and heritage of the city at the centre while making any plan for Varanasi. Tiwari said the State Government is planning Paawan Path scheme in sync with HRIDAY scheme of Government of India. All these streets and even water bodies in old Varanasi have their own historical and religious significance. All the roads leading to religious places will be repaired, and adequate mobility will be ensured.

 

Dr M Ramchandran, former UD Secretary, Government of India, said the resources are not a constraint for Varanasi. We need to utilize this opportunity to speed up implementation of various schemes and programs initiated by Government of India. Ramchandran said that citizen participation in planning was essential in smart city development to understand the ground level requirements of people. He said that Urban Dialoguesseries was trying to bring all cities together through which cities can learn from each other.

 

Girish Chandra Tripathi, Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University, was the Special Guest. He said that Varanasi has always been a smart city. It has adjusted itself to changing times while keeping its traditions and value system intact.

 

Urban Infrastructure Development in Varanasi

 

Dr M Ramchandran chaired the first technical session ‘Urban Infrastructure Development in Varanasi’. The key points of the discussion during the session were: smart city development and requirements of Varanasi, integration of heritage and culture in planning, basic service delivery and service level benchmarking, and urban mobility. Addressing the audience, Nitin Gokarn, Divisional Commissioner of Varanasi, provided the details of ongoing projects and planned works for improving city services and infrastructure.

 

Tikender Singh Panwar, former deputy mayor of Shimla, said that planners and policymakers must take into account the lifeline of cities. In the case of Varanasi,it is the River Ganga. Panwar gave the example of Leipzig city of Germany where the expensive Porsche cars are manufactured. He added that the German city has turned its 8-lane highway into six-lane and reserved two lanes for non-motorized transport. He said that we need to set our priorities right for achieving right kind of development for the city. Pashim Tiwari, Technical Director of AIILSG, pointed out the learnings from JnNURM projects and stressed on making operation and maintenance of the projects integral part of any government project. He said that cities must learn from each other. Like, Ambikapur is a model city to learn solid waste management.

 

Swachh Bharat Mission

 

Ashok Chaudhary, General Manager of Ankur Scientific, speaking about municipal solid waste management, said, “Almost 95 per cent of waste generated goes to landfill unprocessed. Per capita waste generation in India is 400 grams but in future it will reach up to 2.5 kg. We are generating electricity out of biomass and agricultural waste. Our organization has set up more than 1000 units in over 45 countries which is completely a sustainable solution”.

 

While sharing information about sanitation and cleanliness drive, Ravi Ranjan Guru, Sr Executive Director of AIILSG, talked about innovative solutions being implemented in other cities. Emphasising on E-toilets, he said, “When we go to NDMC area and cantonment area in Delhi, you can see these e-toilets. The best thing about e-toilets is water is continuously recycled and there is onsite solid waste compost.”

 

Namami Gange

 

Namami Gange session of Urban Dialogues had representation from academic, religious, civil society and technical domains to underline the requirements for cleaning Ganga River within the stipulated time.

 

Prof (Retd) UK Chaudhary of IITBHU, shed light on the technical aspects of cleaning River Ganga. “The main problem in keeping Ganga clean is the run-off of millions of tonnes of municipal sewage from cities, towns and villages into the river. There is a network of 475 kilometers sewage drainage lines in Varanasi, two thirds of which is choked,” he said.

 

Vishambhar Nath Mishra, Mahant, Sankat Mochan Foundation and Professor at BHU, said that Ganga travels for 2550 km and Banaras belt is one of the most important because it has a connection with Lord Shiva. When the Ganga Action Plan was launched in Banaras in 1986, the total sewage disposal was approximately 50 MLD. Ganga Action Plan was divided into phases, this was almost an experiment and it was pre-decided that if it is successful for Ganga then it will be implemented for the other rivers as well but the results were not amazing.  The first phase development generated infrastructure for 102 MLD. The objective of the Plan was to create infrastructure to dispose 150 MLD sewage back then; today the requirement is for 350 MLD disposal, but the available infrastructure is for 150 MLD.