The Honorable Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs Sri M. Venkiah Naidu inaugurated CITIZEN CONNECT – an interactive workshop aimed at equipping citizens for engaging in a smart city. The Smart Visakha Forum (SVF), an initiative by the Vizagapatam Chamber of Commerce (VCCI) and Phoenix IT Solutions Ltd as the technology partner, conducted this workshop on Wednesday 8th April 2015 at Hotel Four Points by Sheraton, Visakhapatnam.
The workshop started with a panel discussion on the topic “Citizens contributions & expectations in Smart Governance” by Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) and Government representatives” with GVMC Commissioner Sri Pravin Kumar representing the Government and Residents Welfare Associations (RWA) represented by Mr. Uday Shirname, Mr. Shaji Anand, Mr. Sohan Hatangadi, Mr. AK Pandey, Mr. Ramana, and Prof Lakshmi. Mr. DVVS Somayajulu moderated this panel discussion. This discussion highlighted some of the main issues of health, sanitation, security etc. faced by citizens. The GVMC Commissioner responded with initiatives being implemented by the Government as well as those that were close to implementation. He also addressed the limitations faced by the Government. He reiterated that the guidelines laid down by the government for smart Cities, Citizen engagement and citizen participation in governance were very essential. City Police Commissioner Sri Amit Garg spoke on the various security measures being taken by the Police department. He also mentioned about the success of IT initiatives like iclick and Abhayam.
Next Mr. Praveen Prakash, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development spoke on various aspects of smart city building and various mechanisms that could be adopted by cities wishing to turning smart.
The second panel discussion on “Investment opportunities and challenges and ease of business in Vizag” was moderated by the Bureau Chief of The Hindu newspaper Mr. GS Subrahmanyam with participants Mr. G Shiv Kumar of Maple software, Mr. Neeraj Sarda, Chairman CII, Vizag Chapter, Mr. B Raja Srinivas, ex- chairman CREDAI and Prof Lalitha Rani Mynenei. This panel discussed the various concerns faced by industries including the service tax, CSR funds, Approval mechanisms for industry etc.,
Mr. Kancharla Ramabrahmam , President VCCI gave a short history of the organization after which Mr. Anand Dutt briefly explained the thought and actions that went behind the formation of the Smart Visakha Forum. The Forum is a broad based unified group of representatives from all sections of the Visakhapatnam city that will work towards making the city a better place. Following that Ms. Ramya gave a presentation of various citizen engagement strategies to educate the gathering. One of the practices for citizen engagement already in use in Vizag was the online portal www.onevizag.org that has been deployed in the Kirlampudi neighborhood on a pilot basis. This allows the residents to not only interact with one another on matters that concern their neighborhood but also acts as an interface between the Municipal administration and the residents where by several categories of issues can be reported to the civic authorities for further action. This online portal www.onevizag.org is proving to be easy to use and effective tool of communication powered by Phoenix IT Solutions which is the driving force behind the Smart Kirlampudi Pilot Project.
This was followed by the formal inauguration of the workshop by Hon’ble Union Minister for Urban Development Sri Venkiah Naidu by lighting the lamp. The Hon’ble Member of Parliament Dr K Hari Babu then introduced the chief guest and shared his thoughts and vision of Vizag as a smart city.
Sri Venkiah Naidu released a summary of the inputs collected during 12 previous round table sessions with the various stakeholders in the city. This was compiled in the form of a brochure. The Hon’ble Minister then shared his knowledge, vision and thoughts of how citizens can and should share the responsibility of developing a city and as the biggest and most involved stakeholders of a city have a right to know and demand information relevant to them. He urged citizens to involve themselves whole-heartedly in city development programs.