By Vinit Wahi
While the holy dip in river Kshipra may have helped thousands and lakhs of devotees wash off their sins in the recently concluded Simhastha Kumbh at Ujjain, what is certain is the month-long festival may well have opened a door for brighter future for the local population here.
An amount of nearly Rs 5000 crore has been spent on developing infrastructure and amenities in this temple town. The money has been well spent on solid waste management, smart lighting, smart surveillance, tourism development et al which is bound to accelerate pace of development of a smart city in Ujjain, according to a senior official. It may be noted here this holy city has been selected as one of the 100 Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under Prime Minister’s flagship Smart Cities Mission.
According to an analysis, the Kumbh can help the city rebuild its religious tourism-based economy through intelligent urban transformation, simultaneously introducing digital vibrancy into the city’s core services and infrastructure. The draft smart city plan put up on the local corporation’s website aims at cent per cent increase in foreign tourist and 20 per cent increase in domestic tourists in the course of next five years.
Through tourism and knowledge driven initiatives, it hopes to create new jobs in the area of hospitality, transportation, trade and commerce. This will bring down the number of below poverty line (BPL) families in the city by 25 per cent and increase the average household income by one-third. The plan envisages supply of piped water supply to all residents of the city and extending sewerage network to at least half of them in the next five years.
Besides, door-to-door garbage collection services have already been put in place in 75 per cent of the municipal area and these would be extended to cover over 90 per cent area over next five years thanks to which the entire city will have an energy efficient street lighting system. The city would meet at least 10 per cent of its total power requirement as it has a strong potential for solar power generation due to its close proximity to the tropic of cancer.
Ujjain’s history dates back to ancient era, with its emergence as an urban political, educational and religious centre and its urban transformation and preserving its ethnic core value simultaneously with modernisation is the focus now, said the official. In fact, the just-concluded Simhastha festival has been a boon for the overall development of this city and all efforts should be made in maintaining and further developing this infrastructure, says Sushil Shrivas, director of a private hotel and resort here, Shanti Palace.
According to the 2011 census, Ujjain district has a population of about 20 lakh and has seen over 24 per cent increase since 1991. It has the advantage of being within just 50 km range from the state’s industrial capital of Indore and is about 180 kms from the state capital Bhopal. So all in all, it is a happening city, thanks to the Kumbh.