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Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
25 JUN 2016 8:27PM by PIB Delhi
English rendering of PM’s address on the launch of Smart City Mission projects in Pune on 25 June, 2016

It is not like that earlier there was no work done in our country. Also it was not that no Budget allocations were made by the previous governments. However, there are several countries of the world that became independent much later than India and their economy was in a bad shape. What is the reason that several of these countries have left us behind in such a short span of time? I ceaselessly ask this question to myself and keep on pondering over it. And I also discuss this with the people. I also try to analize the previous experiences. This brainstorming goes on relentlessly. It has been realized that the smartest of everyone, the government, the system, the lakhs of government officials, officers, babus, Panchayat Pradhan or the Prime Minister, the Patwari of a village or the Cabinet Secretary, is the citizen of the country.

If for once, this strength of the 125 crore Indians is tapped, and diverted towards good deeds, then we would not require any government; the world would be able to work automatically at a rapid pace. Therefore, the Smart city concept is not just a project to which funds have been allocated, but it is a mass movement. It is a worthwhile effort to lay the foundation of a bright future on the basis of past experiences and I feel that this experiment has been successful. Initially when our secretaries used to come to me and used to brainstorm in the department with Venkaiah, they used to be in a dilemma about how to plan the city. The situation in our country is such that if we start working on one side of the road, people on the other side of the road will start protesting as to why the work is not being done on that side. We have become a master in this in our country. In such a scenario, had we selected one city, although I am not sure about the extent to which we could have done justice to that city, but we would have definitely created a way of offending the rest of the cities.

Just now, Vasundhara ji complimented me and Venkaiah ji for selecting Jaipur and Udaipur. I would like to inform Vasundhara ji that we didn't make the selection. Kindly take back the compliment and instead laud the people of Jaipur and Udaipur. They have emerged victorious in this competition. They have showed their strength and have faced all the hurdles to meet all the parameters. They have competed hard to get the work done on time.

Today there is a work plan for these 20 cities and the work has also been started.

Several tasks that Venkaiah ji was talking about have gained momentum. The main reason is the concerted effort of the people, the employees of Corporation and the aware residents of the city. There is a desire in everyone to make his or her city rank 1 in the country.

There was a time when regions were competing for being backward and poor. They were looking for ways to become backward. But this government is organizing competition to move forward and is looking for ways to progress.

I would also like to congratulate some of the media houses from this stage. Several newspapers have taken up this work on mission mode. Through their newspapers, they have made an attempt to create awareness among the residents of the concerned city. They have created a pressure. And as a result, Mysore ranks number 1 in terms of sanitation. There was a lot of fervor within Bengaluru; but what happened? How did Bengaluru remain behind? Now, Bengaluru needs to pull up its socks and push its way forward. Such a competitive environment has been created. We must take this forward.

There must be a competitive environment and public participation must play an important role.

 

Today, one platform has been launched. How Pune should be planned cannot be decided by Delhi in a manner that Pune can decide. How should Bhubaneshwar be planned? Where should be the footpaths, the cycle lanes, the ponds, the fountains, the hospitals or the parking areas? That decision cannot be taken in Delhi. However, the people of Bhubaneshwar can get ideas from what Jodhpur is doing through web. The people of Jodhpur have come up with a new idea! Let us too try something new in our Bhubaneshwar! This is a great participatory approach in development and an attempt for a talent pool. And I believe this is going to be one of the greatest reasons for transformation in the future.

Sanitation has become the most popular topic in our country. There was a time when only those schemes of the government became popular that added something to the government's exchequer. A part of the funds went into the pockets of some, a part was swallowed by some, while a part went to someone's village. And only then they believed that the scheme is a good one.

For the first time there was a change in that convention. The Prime Minister didn't give out anything. He was only giving advices and suggestions saying -' we all must maintain hygiene. The houses and the cities must remain clean'. The government didn't hand out anything but this scheme is the most popular. You can have a look at any survey. In every survey, and in all the surveys conducted by the media, this Swachhta scheme ranks number 1 in terms of popularity. This means that the mindset that we had in India till date that only those schemes would be popular where something is given out to the people, has changed.

By framing such a mindset, we have done injustice to the able and talented people of our country. They are not those people who are looking for doles. They are rather looking for opportunities to prove their talent. They have the strong desire to do something. This sanitation campaign is a reflection of that spirit which urges the common man to seek out a change.

If you read the old newspapers and articles and observe the analysis done, you will find that there was a time in our country when urbanization was seen as an adversity. Each time the people were concerned about the consequences of urbanization. However, I have a different opinion. We must not see urbanization as a problem but as an opportunity. Urbanization is an opportunity. If we see it as a problem, then our way of addressing it will be the same old process - oh no! Some people have settled there. What to do now? How to provide them with water and electricity? How to provide schools for their children? It feels like a headache! Instead, we can consider it as an opportunity, like, this is what our Pune was in 2016 and this is the possibility in 2025. This is how we can proceed ahead. This is how we can expedite our work. This is the amount of water that will be needed, and this should be the system. We must start thinking on these lines right now and it will turn in to an opportunity. That is why we wish to turn urbanization into an opportunity.

Believe it or not, a city has that power to which the economists have given a separate terminology, 'growth sector'. I look at it with a different perspective. I believe that the one thing that has the power to assimilate poverty is a city. A city can assimilate poverty and this is the reason why people from the area of maximum poverty start moving towards the cities in the hope of getting some or the other job, in the hope that he will be able to sleep at night after having a meal, will be able to send some Rs.50-100 back home to the parents. He hopes to survive with this bare minimum. With this belief, he migrates to the city and within a few days he finds a way, be it cleaning cars or pumping up cycles. This is possible because the city has the ability to assimilate poverty. Now it is our responsibility to empower the cities and make them capable to such an extent that they can assimilate maximum possible levels of poverty and in the minimum possible time. And the energy that will be generated by that assimilation, we must use it to create new dimensions of development. We have thought on those lines.

This is possible. This is not an uphill task. We cannot measure every city on the basis of its buildings or the length of the roads. Every city has its own beauty. Every city has its own soul and its own identity. When we talk of Smart City, in order to accentuate the city's identity and its soul, we ask the public for suggestions. For example, in the smart city conceptualized by Jaipur, it wants to start a new tradition of night time heritage walk. This means, at night as the tourists will pour in, arrangements will be made for electricity and lightings. Other arrangements will be made to ensure that they have a great time there. So, the city of Jaipur will blossom even at night.

Every city has its own identity. While Benares is known for religious reasons, no Indian woman will be unfamiliar with the special Benarasi sarees. Therefore, we need to think about how we can provide a new energy to our identity of the 21st century; how we can provide a modern look to it so that the soul remains intact but is rejuvenated and wears a beautiful identity. Therefore, I said that 'smart city' is not about buildings. Systems require a new momentum and minimum wastage in a transformed life.

Today an individual is able to utilize technology with the help of his mobile phone. But how can this technology become a medium of group service? We have heard Chandra Babuji how he has made use of Digital World for the welfare of the common man. Today Digital World has been launched among the various projects that have been launched in Pune.

The campaign for LED bulbs has started throughout the country. If any government of the day in our country makes an announcement that Rs.1 lakh crores will be invested to the energy sector for generating electricity and 20,000 MW of electricity will be produced and distributed to the people, it will make headlines for the newspapers for at least 3 days. They will be all praises! Wonderful Modi ji! Rs.1 Lakh crore and 20,000 MW! A commendable job! Isn't it? But in case of the LED bulb campaign, the day this campaign is over, you will be extremely overjoyed my countrymen! 20,000 MW of electricity will be saved and Rs. 1 Lakh crore will be saved. And the money saved will be the money that belongs to my country's poor.

Now what should be the process? The solar energy campaign - today the Pune city is already operating solar projects and it has set really high targets. We are also emphasizing upon roof top solar energy by which electricity will be generated on the rooftops of the houses and part of the electricity will be consumed by the household while the surplus will be purchased by the government. Just see, how the problem of electricity is being tackled and how a transformation can be brought. Change can never happen till the time we look at the things in isolation. Our thoughts must be comprehensive, inter-connected and result-oriented.

If we talk of sanitation, the question that immediately comes to mind is - as the land prices are rising where will the garbage be dumped? Where will be the landfills? As the cities are growing, how far do we have to travel for the landfills? How much will be the transportation cost? However, we are striving for 'waste to wealth'; creating wealth out of waste. For the first time, the waste that will be generated from the urban bodies will be converted to compost fertilizer and for the first time the Government has decided to provide subsidy for compost fertilizer just like the urea subsidy to encourage the farmers to purchase compost fertilizer. In the process, the land that was getting degraded due to chemical fertilizers, our mother Earth that was getting damaged will be saved now; the city will be cleaned and selling the compost will create a win-win situation. The Nagarpalika or the Mahanagarpalika will also receive money.

Solid waste management and Liquid waste management - Today there is a water crisis. Sometimes our media magnifies an issue to an extent that one cannot even play cricket! Whether a cricket match is scheduled in a stadium or not, one has to keep sprinkling water on all the 365 days in a year. But the country believed that if cricket matches stop, sprinkling of water will also stop. Yes the nation believed! Great! One has to water the stadium ground to maintain its greenery. Otherwise organizing matches will not be possible just after 2 years! No one knows how and from where they get such great philosophies! Due to this, Maharashtra had to face a great loss. But we must focus on liquid waste management along with solid waste management. The drainage water can be utilized in the gardens and the fields and similar activities. In this way, we can ward off water crisis in the future. Therefore, we must take care of the requirements of the population. Why can't we follow the international norm of receiving water? Can't we reach that level of usage at homes? We should at least try. We should at least start. We can keep increasing from 1 litre to 5 litres to 7 litres.

 

We wish to provide a house to every family. Pune has taken up the project of converting slums in the cities to houses under the housing scheme. Just see how life changes! The line of thought of a poor person living in a slum is different but once he gets a roof over his head, he gets a house to live in, he thinks of getting curtains for his house. Otherwise, he used to make curtains out of the old sarees. Now he starts thinking for example - the window is not perfect. Perhaps he will feel the need of a footrest. Whenever someone comes to his house, he will clean his foot and then enter. He had never felt the need for a footrest in a slum. He starts saving money for a carpet. They can use it in case some guests arrive.

With a house, they not only get four walls and a roof but a new way of thinking! An expression develops within him. And the greatest strength of development is not any scheme but the expressions of the 125 crore Indians that bring momentum, become a reason for accomplishing the goals and due to which the country moves towards grandeur and magnificence.

Thus, this is an era of competition. I invite all the cities. This is a challenge. And not only the elected body or the officials but the residents of the city must accept the challenge. Be it the competition for sanitation or the entry into the smart city list, the city can become smart by public participation and people's resolutions. When I asked the people to provide suggestions on mygov.in, you will be surprised to know that more than 25 lakh people had given serious suggestions that the government had taken into consideration. 25 lakh people had made their contribution. Once I had mentioned in my 'Mann ki Baat' that why can't our railway stations be identified with our villages? When the British had created the railways stations, they had Pizza House in mind. If you go anywhere in America, you will find that there are same kinds of pizza house everywhere. Right or left, everywhere it is the same. But India is not like that. India is full of diversity. It needs modernization. I said there is no need to demolish the walls but at least we can paint the walls different and give them a new look to create an identity for the city. And to my surprise, within a month, all the artists of the city, the school children, art teachers and everyone reached the railway station. And with whatever they had, they started painting the walls and have beautified the walls in such a wonderful manner! Smaller railway stations have created their own identity and have linked the identity of their towns to it.

Today the people of India want change. They want to be a part of that transformation and want to associate with it. The greatest feature of the smart city is the same. Some people are uncomfortable with the word 'smart'. It is not that this is something that will be done for the first time. My concept of 'smart' is very simple. Everyone must receive sufficient water. The first house of the society is getting water but not the last house. This should not be the case. But this is what usually happens. The locality that comes first receives water and the water doesn't reach the localities behind. Similarly, everyone must equally receive electricity. The need for public amenities must be fulfilled by modern infrastructure. This is the effort and just like I said, the economy should be such where development is environment friendly and green. The greater the ability of a city to assimilate poverty, the better is the direction of the city's development. The more it is capable of assimilating poverty, the greater will be the growth and progress of the economy. Only he can arrange for a feast for the guests who himself can have two square meals a day. Therefore, even a city must be financially viable. It should have the power to absorb and assimilate the poverty that enters it. So, an effort has been made in the direction of bringing about a change through public participation and a new change in a new way.

Just a few days back, I reviewed all the work. I was so delighted as something accomplished by entrusting it to the public has immense power. This is a great example of the same. Many people are getting associated and are talking about the 'smart city'. Earlier, the tender for architecture was given out and it was a long process. Today, they are deeply interested in the competition, they want to be a part of it. The entire scenario has transformed. Once again, I would like to congratulate Venkaiah Naidu ji and his entire team. But the people of Pune must remember that you are ranked 2 just by 1.5 marks. You are behind just by 1.5 marks. If you could score 1.5 marks more, you could have been in the place of Bhubaneshwar. Just look at the great spirit of competition! The next time I visit Pune, I want to see Pune on top in any ongoing competition. This is the legacy of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, it is the treasure of Lokmanya Tilak and hence we must take Pune forward with the same spirit and you too decide, Pune must not remain behind. It is full of great fun!

Thanks a lot!

 

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