Kohima: Under the Kohima Smart City initiative, a total of Rs 79 crore has so far been released for seven ongoing projects that are under implementation at the state’s capital—Kohima.
In an exclusive interview with EastMojo, Kovi Meyase, chief executive officer (CEO) of Kohima Smart City Development Limited (KSCDL) gives an insight about the developments of the projects, its upcoming works, challenges and his vision for Kohima by 2025.
Although Kohima was selected as a smart city in September 2016, the implementation of the works began in October 2018. Meyase said that out of the seven projects that are under implementation, two multilevel car parking, one at Old Medical Directorate and the other at NST, has been elevated from a one storied building. “The progress of the work is very good. From the earlier one storied brown project that was left behind, now we can see that both locations have five stories coming up in a matter of 11-12 months,” he added.
Meyase, who is also the administrator of Kohima Municipal Council (KMC), said that ramps are constructed at the old medical directorate. Talking about another project, he said that the stretch from Classic Island to the Box Cutting area has progressed with the road widening and beautification process under Phase-I, which began a year ago. He said that the work was delayed due to the monsoon weather, however, the progress has been expedited and is likely to be completed by October-November this year.
He expressed gratification about the progress of the W-Fi Kohima City project which was launched on November 30 last year. At present, there are 16 hotspot locations with 50 access points under the Wi-Fi Phase-I. Meyase also said that the work for the Cultural Hall project under AMRUT has started.
He said that the Phase-I progress of Beautification stands at 65%, and therefore six more months are extended to the contractors for the final completion of the works. He added that the “very ambitious” Rs 131 Cr project of the Kohima is the Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) started off well. But due to logistical problems, the work was delayed. He said that one component of the ICCC will go live by this month. He expressed hope that all ICCC components will be functional this year end.
On the Area based development works, Meyase said that seven areas are adopted and the civil works–construction of community hall cum parking facility at New Market has progressed.
“Seven DPR [Detailed Project Report] were prepared and submitted the government for onwards submission to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) through which the state share will come in close to Rs 500 Crore,” he said. He added that the KSCDL is currently at the second stage of preparation of DPR for the remaining projects.
Speaking about the challenges, he said that at the local level, land holding issue is a major problem although he pointed that the cooperation by the citizens is positive. “However, one big problem is that the state is not able to cough up its state share, because of the financial condition that the state is in. This is one major concern that we have been facing and the ministry has also been persistently reminding us on this factor,” he said.
He then added: “Thankfully, the state government initiated to take loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) which in the course of time could get through. At the managerial level, we fall short of many expert hands. On one hand, the state share does not come in, and we do not have enough fund to buy experts from the market”.
“We only have to bank on the officials that the state government can spare through its department, and we do not have the luxury to choose the staff. I’m not trying to belittle the staff that I have, but keeping in view the huge prestige of the project, I think Kohima Smart City should also be mend by some of the best technological brains and hands, this is one factor where we can improve,” he added.
While the city was ranked as the second most unlivable city in the country in 2018, it was also ranked the top for smart cities in North East last year. “We probably must have achieved the milestones which the ministry constantly poured on us, which is a feel good factor,” he said.
He said, “Citizens are the real heroes”, and goes on to say that the citizen responsiveness and community participation has tremendously increased, particularly in sanitation. He cited that social organizations are now volunteering to adopt certain stretches of areas in the city for maintenance. Under the current Ease of Living (EoL) assessment which ends this month, Meyase said that 1% of citizen participation is required which calculates 1074 persons for Kohima and that till date, the survey has crossed 600 mark. He regretted that the unavailability of data determined the poor ranking in 2018, and that nodal departments are now sensitized about their role and contribution and is hopeful that raking will improve this time around.
Besides the Rs 150-200 Cr project of constructing a city centre at old secretariat area, other projects like urban transport mobility, disaster management and digitalization of water management system are some upcoming projects.
Meyase further envisioned that 2025, he wishes Kohima to be a very clean city with less traffic congestions; first class drainage system; more pedestrian walkways; Ecologically friendly transport system; laying of circular roads; More areas be adopted besides the seven Area based development colonies through the revenue it generates from the built up infrastructure. He also appealed all citizens to participate in the Ease of Living Survey seeking cooperative efforts towards improving the city rankings.