Questions are being raised over the Bhopal Municipal Corporation’s online polling process for the Smart City project.
In the online polling, 323 votes are registered till date and 106 votes have gone for Shivaji Nagar. Thirty-three per cent of the respondents have voted for Shivaji Nagar to be developed as the best locality in Bhopal. Maximum votes have gone to ‘redevelopment’ model, leaving ‘retrofitting’ and ‘greenfield’ categories far behind.
But residents of the locality have filed a petition to the National Green Tribunal regarding the damage which ‘redevelopment’ model will cause to Shivaji Nagar and Tulsi Nagar. The petition says about 30,000 trees will be felled if the model is implemented. Amit Sharma, Corporator of Ward 31, says they are demanding that IP addresses should be reflected in the online polls. Shivaji Nagar is under Ward 31.
Social workers and activists say BMC never extensively raised awareness among the public regarding the project. “Citizen’s involvement should be the utmost priority for any such project. Choosing two-three areas and developing them can create ‘smart mohallahs’ but not a smart city,” National Centre for Human Settlements and Environment chairperson Nirmala Buch says.
City planner Rajendra Kothari says BMC officials claimed they got around 75,000 responses till now, but even IT savvy cities like Pune have registered 10,000 to 15,000 responses till now.
BMC commissioner Tejasvi S Naik says the online polling exercise was outsourced as the civic body had only 100 days for completing the consultation process.
“We feel Internet penetration in Bhopal is quite high. We got 3.5 lakh responses via Facebook, WhatsApp, SMS and BMC website. …we wanted the Bhopal people to express opinion even if they are working in other cities. Even Pune has 11.5 lakh responses. It doesn’t mean 11.5 lakh people have taken the effort of giving consultations,” Naik asserts.