The city administrations has been struggling to put together the pieces for Udaipur, where at one end the tourism department is giving a very good picture of the increasing tourism in the city and on the other hand the city is struggling with traffic jams and congestion on the roads and public places, especially the tourist spots and within the walled city.
Smart City and Rankings
Smart City projects in the city over the last few years have got top ranking for Udaipur in terms of project completion, whereas when it comes to cleanliness rankings, the 'beautiful' city of Udaipur is in the dumps. Hurried construction, delayed projects, unplanned sewage treatment setups, re-working at many sites, especially the walled city areas and subsequent damage control efforts are making a mess of things. The honest approach of the administration is being dissolved in the filth of unprofessional and unplanned as well as low competency implementation.
The haphazard and strong armed anti-encroachment activities in the city after the Vidhan Sabha elections seems to be more of an effort by the newly elected MLA to prove his mettle rather than an exercise to ease the cities traffic problems. The anti-encroachment drive has led to a stage where the public is now coming up in arms against the drive as this mismanaged approach has affected the livelihood of many families.
The latest in the series of damage control is the implementation of the Anti-Smog Machines around the city, which is merrily spraying liquid in the air on busy roads in the midst of heavy traffic, resulting on water on the car windshields hampering commuting and posing a risk of accidents and the wet roads which are leading to two wheelers slipping and causing traffic jams and injury to people, both the drivers as well as pedestrians. Over the last few days that ASG has been implemented in Udaipur, there have been several accidents, some resulting in mild injuries while others in severe injuries that took over two weeks to heal. Incessant road works and clumsy delays are the cause of most pollution apart from the cluster of vehicles on the road, both domectic and tourist vehicles. So rather than uproot the livelihood of vendors in the name of anti-encroachment, the administration should focus on traffic congestion in high traffic and tourist areas. The AQI of Udaipur at 87 is much below the national average of 110. The Average AQI in Rajasthan is 132. Hiran Magri in Udaipur is having the highest AQI of 134 at the time uploading this post (1 Feb 1730hrs). Other areas in the map viz Ashok Nagar has a AQI of 78, Shyam Nagar 66, Zinc Park at 78.
ASG has been implemented in metros like Mumbai and Delhi as well as other tier 2 and 3 cities. In Mumbai, the ASG locations include Haji Ali, Worli Sea Face, Pedder Road, Badhwar Park, World Trade Centre, Nariman Point and Girgaum Chowpatty. The BMS is also imposing regulations on construction sites and ensuring that if pollution control measures are not implemented, the projects will face a temporary closure.
What is an Anti Smog Gun and How it functions
The nebulised water droplets spewing from the Anti Smog Gun (ASG) absorbs the smallest dust and pollutions particles in the atmosphere. This ASG is connected to a water tank mounted on a vehicle, and water is converted into a thin spray with droplets the size of 50-100 microns by passing it through high pressure propellers. The mist reduces air pollution by binding the dust and other particulate matter and carrying them to ground level along with water. ASG makes a canopy effect and works like rain to bring down the suspended particles wafting in the atmosphere. The water spray can go up to a height of 150 feet and spew water 30-100 litres per minute.
Does it meets its purpose?
The efficacy of using ASG in Urban areas is debated in terms of the costs and benefits. How far does it really reduce air pollution? As per experts and environmentalists, this measure has a limited time quick relief solution rather than a long lasting solution.
“This system can’t be applied in an area. It can only work in a confined area like a stadium and not in open areas; the unconfined ambient air laden with lesser dust, compared to industrial fugitive location, might not get a chance to get adhered with tiny and submicron particles in a given time,” D Saha, a scientist at the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), who observed the trial run of ASG at a location in Delhi on December 20, 2017, had reportedly said.
Every ASG uses 40 to 250 litres of coliform and bacteria-free water per minute. Some feel it’s a sheer waste when we weigh its benefits.
Having said all of this, Udaipur, the City of Lakes, is struggling with multiple situations, where the cities growth in residences, businesses and tourism is leading to exponential increase in traffic, and though the interconnectivity of roads is not something to worry about, it is the traffic across the city and its outskirts that is demanding a drastic enhancement to the infrastructure. At one end Udaipur Tourism is looking at increasing the footfall and on the other, it is the same tourist vehicles that cause bottlenecks at important city junctions. The ringroads are also not a smooth drive with road work taking its toll on the backbone of both vehicles and people. Anti encroachment drive is driving a lot of vendors from estabished livelihood without providing them suitable alternatives. The administration does have a challenge on hand and whether it is well equipped in terms of purpose and drive will decide what the near future holds for Udaipur - a smarter city or a struggling beautiful town.