BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Limited (IPSCDL) is a government-funded organisation in Goa that is silently and smartly moving forward with its agenda to transform Panjim into a smart city, despite the brickbats – many of which have come from elected representatives.
IPSCDL has been formed to modernise and upgrade the capital city. This means bringing in changes by peppering good vestiges of the past with the technology of today, which can be utilised by the old and the young alike. Therefore, the tweaks in the Information Technology (IT) used.
Panjim as a city needs a lot to become a smart city, right from sewage to water supply, electricity, road connectivity, etc.
The men and women with IPSCDL have been going about with the herculean task, focusing the least on themselves.
Panjim was created by the Portuguese with a small population in mind and perhaps with the thoughts that the people they left behind would retain the aesthetics of the city and that nature cannot be played with.
That it has not happened, can be seen by the way Panjim has grown and is growing, with absolutely no concern regarding the maintenance of the natural habitats that were part of Panjim. What is there now is a concrete jungle that smells of our greed, all over.
Panjim has become a cesspool and posterchild for haphazard planning because we looked the other way – or at least most of us did – when buildings were being built where fields should have been; where trees should have existed; and where open spaces should have been left untouched.
And when the people part of the Smart City Mission for Panjim try to remedy some of the problems, as there can be no complete cure, many have tried to accuse IPSCDL of not pulling up its socks and in the bargain have ended up with egg on their faces.
IPSCDL was formed some years ago, and officials have taken the onus for the initial delay in starting work. But, that can now be condoned keeping in mind the thought process put in place by the eighteen-odd individuals managing the Smart City Mission for Panjim.
The men and women at IPSCDL are intelligent and thorough professionals. They know how to make the best use of technology. They are people from Goa and therefore understand the needs of the community.
There have been occasions when barbs have been thrown at them and the reason for that was the managing directors were IAS officers and the Chief Secretary is the boss. But few were aware that the show is being run by highly educated Goans – not political appointees.
The people at IPSCDL plan and propose the same to the government or the concerned department. In this case, it is the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP), the elected MLA of Panjim and the concerned departments.
The execution of the plans and final decisions are the prerogative of the elected bodies, while the implementation is overseen by IPSCDL through various agencies outsourced.
If people in Panjim faced difficulties during the execution of the plans, it has been because of delays due to sudden government decisions to either stop the work or alter plans to appease certain constituents. IPSCDL does not have the choice of not following orders.
Most waited for the monsoon to break, watching to see what would happen to Panjim. Well, it did not get worse but was, in fact, better because places that used to be submerged – Neogi Nagar and surrounding areas specifically - survived the torrential rains.
Some parts were submerged as were different other cities of India and, for sure, IPSCDL cannot be held responsible for something that is beyond its scope.
It is time the people of Panjim begin appreciating or at least begin to see how the staff at IPSCDL is providing them with amenities that they do not need smartness to use.
Let’s leave them alone and in the meantime focus on how we can work with what they are offering to make our city smart.