In conversation with ICLEI South Asia, Renu Bala Gupta, Mayor of Karnal, India shares how Karnal will make the transition to a smart city and the steps the city is taking to improve its traffic management.
What are the challenges that Karnal presently faces with regards to mobility?
Karnal’s city centre is also the business district and is the area with the most amount of traffic. Roads leading to the business centre are usually jam-packed. The City is looking to resolve this issue. It is indeed a challenge, however, the Municipal Corporation along with the police department have executed a plan to tackle this. The Municipal Corporation has constructed parking lots on both sides of the road in order to minimise traffic caused by illegally parked vehicles. Shopkeepers and businessmen are cooperating with us. This is a pilot project, and after the success of this project, it will be implemented in other parts of the city. Apart from this, we are planning to construct a multi-storey building in which the basement and top floor will be kept for vehicle parking at site of the old Corporation office, which is near the clock tower. We envision that this will improve the traffic congestion. Around Karna Gate, there is a huge encroachment problem which is the major cause of traffic issues. The city is looking for public participation to overcome this.
How do you see the collaboration with ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability helping the city?
ICLEI South Asia, has volunteered to provide technical support to us in the mobility sector. Our citizens as well as our officials had prioritized the need to resolve mobility issues. ICLEI has already suggested proper bus routes for the proposed bus service in the city. Based upon planning and design principles ICLEI has also made an assessment of the on-street parking facility provided by the Municipal Corporation recently. ICLEI will also assist the city on pricing mechanism for parking, zoning of vendors and other issues as requested us. The support from ICLEI in the city aims to be inclusive and comprehensive with a special focus on security for women, elderly, children and people with special needs
Karnal has been successfully selected as a SMART city. What are the initiatives that the city will prioritize under the Mission?
Karnal city has been selected among 100 other cities as a smart city. This is a proud moment for Karnal and its residents. From the central government’s allotted budget of INR 1295.81 Crore, the first instalment of INR 200 Crore will be utilised to constitute the SPV (Special Project Vehicle). The Municipal Corporation’s representative has also been included in this governing body. The development work which includes modifications to drainage and green space development will start with Mughal canal area before moving onto other vicinities. In addition to area development, traffic control, IT services will also be improved, and service for public problems will be provided with short and long term solutions.
What changes would Karnal like to see in next few years that will streamline the city’s transportation sector? How do you plan on involving the citizens in this vision?
In order to implement the smart city project and state government yojanas in Karnal, traffic management is the first priority. We have already gained approvals for 126 CCTV installations at 31 junctions for surveillance and better traffic management. Grain and vegetable markets will be relocated to ease out traffic congestion. Six laning of the city’s major arterial road and four laning of city’s entrance from highway is ongoing which help in smooth movement of traffic. I would again like to add that public participation will be encouraged through stakeholder consultations and awareness activities. This way, in the coming years, there will be a huge improvement in the city’s transport facility.