TODAY -

Smart city Imphal; the Curitiba example

Yumnam Devjit *

A view of Imphal City
A view of Imphal City : Pix - Deepak Oinam



Nobody in their right mind should dare talk about designing a smart city without knowing the story of Curitiba, Brazil.

Curitiba is a city in South Brazil; the capital of the Brazilian state of Parana. It is considered the Mecca of city urban design. An obvious question arises, why is Curitiba so special?

Leadership is an important factor in the story of Curitiba. The citizens of Curitiba elected an architect by the name of Jaime Lerner as their Mayor. With his architectural background and his philosophy of "people matter more than economics when designing a city" he changed the city into what it is today.

Urban transport in Curitiba is as smart as smart can be. Arterial routes are designated in Curitiba were the one of a kind bi articulated buses designed by Volvo for Curitiba ply. These roads are divided into 3, one road going into the city another going out of the city and a middle two lane road especially dedicated for the bus service. Providing a dedicated lane for bus service changes the whole equation.

A bus arrives at each station in less than a minute interval. A conventional bus service can carry a maximum of 1000 people a day per bus running at optimum conditions. The Curitiba bus service carries 3000 passengers per day per bus. The bus service of Curitiba transport more passengers than a subway of any city does.

The cost of setting up such a high frequency dedicated bus service is a fraction of the cost of setting up a subway system. Adding to this each bus station has a unique design of paying the fair as you enter the station like a subway and not when you enter the bus. This allows speedy boarding of passengers as they are not stopped for tickets while boarding the bus. The end result is, the people of Curitiba consume 3% less fuel per capita than the average Brazilian citizen and the roads of Curitiba are not congested with cars. It creates jobs and provides convenience for the people of Curitiba.

The garbage collection system in Curitiba is another marvel of simple and effective design. Curitiba recycles 70% of its solid waste, the highest of any city in the world. Unlike the garbage disposal teams of Imphal, Curitiba has 2 teams of garbage disposal, one for recycling materials and another for non recycling materials. The recycling team wears a green uniform and the non recycling wears orange. They collect garbage 2 times a day one for green team another for the orange team.

How they managed this setup to work is so simple that it is amusing. For six months the authorities went to schools and taught the students how to segregate the garbage and dispose them. After this they launched a city wide campaign and put the system in force. The plan was a success thanks to the kids who taught their parents at home. The recycling industry creates thousands of jobs in Curitiba and helps improve the surroundings.

For poor neighborhoods the authorities conduct a special program called the "green exchange". The people collect and segregate garbage from their neighborhood and deposit it to the garbage trucks and in return they receive produce (fruits and vegetables) collected from farmers. For every 4 kg of garbage collected they receive 1 kg of produce. These produce are excess production from local farmer which would have gone to waste. Through this process the poor neighborhood remains clean and the people get food and a sense of togetherness.

Another wonderful example from Curitiba is the story of the pedestrian mall. During the 1970s as the city was becoming congested with cars the authorities were faced with the question of expanding the roads.

The particular road in question in this story was a road to a bustling market area. Under the Mayor Jaime Lerner's leadership instead of expanding the road they paved it and turned it into a pedestrian only road. Knowing that they would get a strong opposition from the merchant community, they completed the work in 72 hours. The projected was estimated to take 6 months but due to Lerner's efforts it took only 72 hours.

As the work was done so quickly over a weekend the merchant communities were caught off guard. As anticipated they opposed the project and threatened to drive trucks right through the pavement the next day. In a quick witted response to this the authorities placed papers on a stick every meter or so and invited all the children around, gave them paints and colours and asked them to draw anything they wanted.

The merchant were not able to drive through as the children were painting on the street. Within 2 weeks the mindset of the merchants changed and started advocating for pedestrian malls in Curitiba. The pedestrian mall of Curitiba is now one of its defining features.

One can see the similarity between this story and what happened at Thangal and Paona Bazar a few years back. In case of Manipur the merchants won. If pursued with a determined vision Thangal and Paona Bazar of Manipur could become a beautiful pedestrian mall. Using the spaces opposing Waheng leikai overlooking the river, with a cleaned up Nambul, street light, temporary stalls aligning the place, it could be a pleasant evening spot for people to gather.

I urge all individuals involved in the planning of Imphal to do research on the city of Curitiba. Just copying them is enough for Imphal city to improve, but if we really want to become a great city learning about Curitiba will get you inspired. And that is what you need to be before you start planning. Be inspiredů


* Yumnam Devjit wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at yumnamdevjit(aT)gmail(dOT)com
This article was posted on December 07, 2015.


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