Petition to revive Aurangabad old city as part of Smart City project

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To,                                                                                                                                                   

Date: 7/08/2018

The Commissioner

Aurangabad Municipal Corporation

Town Hall, Aurangabad – 431 001

 

SUBJECT: Preserving Old City Areas and Monuments of Aurangabad as part of the Smart City Project

 

Dear Sir,

We the citizens of Aurangabad herewith humbly request the authorities to kindly take into consideration measures to save the old city area, its monuments, settlements and their unique nature while developing the Smart City project for Aurangabad.

Often known as the ‘City of Gates’, the wider Aurangabad urban region comprises of concentric developed hubs including Shendra, MIDC-Waluj, CIDCO, etc. The city has grown from about 40 sqkm with a population of 1.75 lakhs in 1961 to over 170 sqkm with more than 1.5 million residents at present.   However, much of what we know as Aurangabad today has its roots in and around the fifty-two (52) gates. The gates together with the central fort area, also known as ‘Qila-e-Ark’, and fortification walls encompass communities and settlements with over 400-years of history. The built environment of these areas thus includes a wide spectrum of cultures and population that has made Aurangabad what it is today.

And yet, the driving focus of the Smart City project in Aurangabad is a Greenfield township on the fringe of the city where close to three quarters of the allocated budget is supposed to be utilized. On one hand, there are the vibrant old city areas and the heritage structures in dire need of intervention including conservation programs and basic infrastructure upgradation. On the other, an amount exceeding even the budget of Aurangabad Municipal Corporation is earmarked for a 500-acre land area which is uninhabited. On one hand, there is the old city economy which till this day absorbs and provides for most of the inhabitants of these areas. On the other, there is just the distant promise of development and jobs emanating from a concentrated area. This unevenness in the conceptualization of area based development as part of the Smart City project ought to be addressed by focusing on heritage structures and the infrastructure/services available in the old city area.

Cities such as Ahmedabad and Kochi have shown the way forward when it comes to preserving the cultural heritage of the city. For instance, as a result of constant efforts of the local authorities, the Ahmedabad walled city area was inscribed as a site to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Similarly, events and the efforts around Kochi-Muziris Biennale, an international exhibition of contemporary art held in Fort Kochi area, have had a transformatory impact with regard to Fort Kochi and its heritage.

The scale of efforts required to emulate and better these initiatives may be daunting; however the Smart City project is an opportunity that Aurangabad should not miss if it is serious about preserving its uniqueness and cultural diversity.  The Smart City guidelines, for instance, state: “The first question is what is meant by a ‘smart city’. The answer is, there is no universally accepted definition of a Smart City. It means different things to different people. The conceptualization of Smart City, therefore, varies from city to city and country to country, depending on the level of development, willingness to change and reform, resources and aspirations of the city residents” (Para 2.1, pg. 5).

Therefore, if there has to be “a replicable model which will act like a light house to other aspiring cities” (Para 2.3, pg 5), we urge you to turn Aurangabad old city into the exemplar that the Smart City project aspires to build. This can be accomplished through upgradation programs as part of the retrofitting/redevelopment under area based development component of the Smart City project.

We yearn to see Aurangabad as the exemplar it deserves to be and we hope that the authorities along with the residents of the city work to accomplish this dream.

Yours Truly,

The Citizen of Aurangabad



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