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India does not need more Smart Cities, says Urban Affairs Secy

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New Delhi, Sep 29 : Even as work is underway on building 100 Smart Cities across the country, there is no need for more as learnings from the ongoing mission can be replicated for other cities and towns in the country, a top official of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs said on Tuesday.

“Learnings from 100 Smart Cities Mission is very important… people often ask me about the next round of Smart Cities and I tell them that it is not required because we can utilise the learnings from our ongoing mission, replicate the same and move ahead,” Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary D.S. Mishra said at a webinar on “Digital Transformation of Smart Cities in India and path ahead”.

Quoting examples of various smart cities – Indore, Bhopal, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad and others, he said: “We have learnt a lot of things that can be replicated in shoring up infrastructure in other cities to achieve our goal of improving our citizens’ lives and promote ease of living, be it in terms of health, education, public transport, safety and surveillance and other such aspects.”

Highlighting the three main goals of Smart Cities Mission, Mishra said: “It is about improving liveability, economic ability and sustainability… for this we are conducting all sorts of new experiments in our smart cities – building basic infrastructure using technology to provide better facilities and sustainable solutions to people.”

“We are focusing on capturing the data and using it as an open source to further improve the living standard of people and how we can make our cities climate resilient,” he added.

Mishra also informed that work is likely to be soon completed on 33 of the 49 Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCC) that were turned into Covid-19 war rooms.

“In cities where the infection was rapidly spreading, the ICCCs helped track movement of each and every patient, tracing their contacts, supplying things to their homes, ensuring cleanliness and overall logistics together with predicting requirement of number of beds, masks, sanitisers and others,” he said.

“All this information was smoothly compiled with the help of our integrated command and control centres and has been documented. We have also uploaded it on our ministry’s website.”

The Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary also gave examples of proper management using technology in case of recent floods in Vadodra, cyclone in Vizag and holding the Kumbh Mela with the help of ICCC.

About digital transformation in the recent years, he said: “There is a new thinking which has introduced the concept of Smart Cities in India which is all about further improving the lives of our citizens, leading to quality of life and promoting ease of living through optimal use of all resources available at our disposal.”

Mishra further said that the Prime Minister, while giving a call for Aatmanirbhar Bharat, talked about three things – healthy individual, healthy society and healthy economy, and to accomplish all these three, it is needed to optimally utilise all the resources available. “For this we need to use technology in a big way and so Smart Cities concept can help us learn a lot in this behalf.”

He also said that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is documenting most information – be it related to smart road construction, water supply, sanitation, mobility etc.

Terming digital transformation as a positive aspect of Covid-19, the Secretary said: “It is during the lockdown that we realised that life has to go on and for that it was only due to digital medium that we contacted people be it for sanitation, logistics, tracking patients and others… such exercises were possible only via digital medium.”

He also said that the pandemic has also brought a lot of challenges, and one big challenge is about how to make public transport in such a way that people can be saved from infectious diseases like Covid-19.

In his address, Pradeep Aggarwal, Chairman, ASSOCHAM National Council on Real Estate, Housing and Urban Development, said: “The epidemic of Covid-19 has given us an opportunity to think once again on the Smart City Mission and build sustainable cities which can fight such epidemic like situations. It has made us realize that we will need to strengthen the health and education facilities of such cities.”

India

Barricades to open on Jan 26 as police allow Tractor Rally

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The Delhi Police on Sunday said that after several round of talks with the farmers groups, it has permitted the tractor rally inside Delhi on January 26.

Police has said that the barricades would be lifted at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders on January 26 after the Republic Day parade is over and the farmers would be allowed to enter upto 100 kilometers within Delhi with their tractors in a circular path on the routes discussed with the farmers.

The route specified is from Singhu Border to Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Kanjhawala, Bawana to Auchadi. From Tikri border, it will be to Nangloi, Najafgarh, Jharoda, Dhansa, Badli and the KMP and from Gazipur border to Apsara border to Hapur Road.

“We have told the farmers that the rally would start once the Republic Day parade is over. We expect with the cooperation of the farmers the rally would be peaceful,” Special Commissioner of Police, Intelligence, Deependra Pathak, said.

However, the police said that they are on alert after intelligence inputs that various Twitter handles operating from across the border are active to disrupt the rally on January 26.

“According to our intelligence input, 308 Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan to disrupt the rally to create disturbance. We are also concerned about the security of the rally given the threat perception,” he added.

Meanwhile, several batches of farmers from Punjab and Haryana set out on their tractor-trolleys and other vehicles to take part in the proposed tractor rally on January 26 in the national capital. Tractor-trolleys have now become a common sight at the Singhu border as the farmers have started bringing in the tractors to the protest site from villages in Punjab for the proposed rally.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other states have been protesting at multiple border points of Delhi at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders since November-end. They are demanding a repeal of the three central farm laws passed by Parliament in September last year.

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Soldier injured in Pak ceasefire violation succumbs

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An Army soldier injured in a ceasefire violation by Pakistan on the Line of Control in J&K’s Rajouri district, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.

An Indian Army statement said, “Pakistan Army had resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation on the LoC in Sunderbani sector of J&K on January 18 which was responded to strongly by our own troops.”

“In the incident, Naik Nishant Sharma of 10 JAK RIF was critically injured and was under treatment at the command hospital.

“Today the soldier succumbed to injuries. Naik Nishant Sharma was a brave, highly motivated and sincere soldier. The nation will always remain indebted to him for his supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty.”

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CBI arrests labour official in TN in bribery case

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 The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Sunday that it had arrested a Regional Labour Commissioner on the charge of demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 30,000.

P Sivarajan, posted as Regional Labour Commissioner (Central) in Madurai, was held along with a private person N Murali after the CBI laid a trap on Saturday and caught them with the bribe amount.

A case was registered after a complaint that Sivarajan was demanding undue advantage from Murali, representing a private company, for issuing labour licence.

Searches were conducted at five places in Chennai and Madurai (Tamil Nadu), including the residence and offices of the accused, said the CBI.

Both the accused were produced in the court of Principal Special Judge for CBI cases, Chennai, and remanded to judicial custody till February 4.

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