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Smart City Pune: Seven years of tech-centric success

by Super Admin
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Dr. Sanjay Kolte IAS, CEO, Pune Smart City

The Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd was incorporated as a Special Purpose Vehicle back in 2016. As the program comes to a close in June 2023, Dr. Sanjay Kolte IAS, CEO, Pune Smart City spoke to Mrigank Warrier, Associate Editor, Clean India Journal about its successes, what remains to be done, how the Smart City program works as the technology partner for the municipal corporation’s initiatives, and how all future buildings will be ‘green’.

Pune has done extensive work in collection and segregation of waste. Tell us about what has been achieved, and what more is in store.

100% waste collection is being done on a daily basis by the NGO SWaCH in conjunction with the regular staff of the solid waste management department of the Pune Municipal Corporation. More than 2,000 tonnes of waste are generated in the city per day. 500 metric tonnes are generated by bulk waste generators.

More than 1,500 tonnes of dry waste are processed daily through 11 units; for wet waste, two units of 400 metric tonnes are operational. 12 biogas plants, which have a capacity of 98 metric tons, are operational. Mechanical composting is being done in three units of capacity 10 metric tonnes. There are nine e-waste collection centres, and one incinerator unit of 5 metric tonnes capacity for biomedical waste.

Legacy waste of almost 9 metric tonnes – that was dumped in landfills – has been processed through biomining. More than 16 acres of land have already been reclaimed.

The municipal corporation is planning to upgrade the capacity of dry waste processing to 2,475 metric tonnes per day soon.

How do you plan to increase the efficiency of your waste management efforts?

The municipal corporation and Smart City SPV are working together to come up with an integrated solid waste management project through the convergence of civic and Smart CIty funds. There will be a centralised control system with an integrated dashboard for improved resource management and improved collection, segregation, transportation, resource recovery and processing of waste.

The objectives of this project are grievance redressal, data analytics and ultimately, easy decision making. Pune Smart City is contributing ₹8.25 Cr for this project.

You spoke of data analysis and monitoring under the integrated waste management program. What tech interventions have you introduced to make this possible?

The proposed solution architecture involves community bins with RFID tags, GPS tracking of the waste transportation vehicles, and providing the human resources involved in the process with smart GPS watches to track their attendance and monitor their work from a central location.

A web API will be utilised for the citizen grievance redressal system through a mobile app. RFID readers will be installed at weighbridges to read RFID tags on waste collection vehicles. Overall record keeping will be improved. Data will be stored in a centralised data centre, which will be connected to a cloud server. 80% of the work for this project is complete.

You also mentioned bulk waste generators. Are they supposed to process any of their waste on-site?

Yes, as per municipal rules and regulations, they are expected to collect and segregate the waste at their own facility. Wet waste is to be converted to compost, and dry waste is to be handed over to an authorised collection agency, which will then hand it over to recyclers.

For composting, what process should they use – machine composting or vermicomposting?

Both are an option. Smaller units may go in for composting machines, while larger ones may choose vermicomposting.

Across the country, we’ve been reading that once commissioned, waste-to-energy plants fail to become financially viable since they do not get the minimum daily input material. Have you been facing similar challenges?

Presently, the plants that have been set up are working properly. In fact, we need more of them. Efforts are being made to increase the number and capacity of waste-to-energy plants.

How is the biogas generated by biogas plants being utilised?

It is used in-house, to meet the requirements of municipal or other institutions.

Of all the components of waste management, how much is being executed by the municipal corporation itself and how much has been contracted out to agencies?

Transportation of waste, and operating processing plants for both wet and dry waste is being done by external agencies.

Pune is a major IT hub. How is e-waste being collected?

NGOs are working along with the municipal corporation for this. They carry out their own awareness campaigns. On weekends, they go from apartment to apartment (the dates are announced in advance) to collect e-waste from households.

How do the municipal corporation and the Pune Smart City SPV interact and work together?

Solid waste management is one of the objectives of the Smart City Mission. The integrated waste management project is being done in convergence with the municipal corporation. We align our objectives and projects with the Pune Municipal Corporation to enhance the efficiency and reach of solid waste management.

Tell us about the deployment of ‘bandicoot’ robots for sewer cleaning.

Presently, manholes and sewers are being cleaned using machines. As a pilot project, we procured three bandicoot robots for this purpose instead. Efficiency-wise and safety-wise, they are much better than machines. The robot is able to go into the corners of the sewerage network, and remove a lot of waste. We are hopeful of replicating this project in other areas.

In what other ways are you exploring smart technologies?

We are widely using geospatial technology, IoT and Artificial Intelligence. The SCADA system is involved in management of water supply. The integrated command and control center is reliant on Big Data and data analytics for the integration of various stakeholder departments.

How has smart metering helped in water management?

Our equitable water distribution project is a work in progress. It has six zones and will cover the entire old city, excluding the 23 new villages which were inducted recently. The work in one zone is fully complete.

Smart meters for automatic meter reading are one of the important components of the equitable water distribution system. Smart pipelines will be getting controlled through a centralised SCADA system; some reservoirs are also part of this. This will reduce the maintenance required for the water distribution system, and reduce the associated energy demand.

What progress have you made in switching to more renewable forms of energy?

By 2021, Pune was generating one crore 29 lakh units of solar energy every year. More than 32,000 households have been installed with solar water heaters. Incentives are being provided to install solar water heaters (and rainwater harvest infrastructure) in apartment buildings.

Have you set any targets for renewable energy generation?

15% of the total energy demands of the city are to be met by non-conventional sources of energy. We have already installed solar panels on the rooftops of municipal hospitals and schools.

The Smart City Mission is also focussing on making sure that future buildings are green buildings. What is Pune doing in this regard?

The municipal corporation has adopted a policy of utilising IGBC ratings for this purpose. Attractive FSI is allotted to projects which are being certified as green by ratings agencies. Such projects need to be registered with the ratings agency from the design stage itself.

We have also entered into an MoU with IGBC Pune to promote the green building movement in the city, raising awareness, and building capacity of engineers, architects, municipal staff and other agencies.

Practically speaking, what features will such buildings need to have?

Some features of green buildings are: using natural light and ventilation as far as possible, installing a rainwater harvesting system, using sensors to activate lighting systems so that power is used only when required, etc.

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