As travelling in India is becoming trouble free, Panagiotis Karamanos, Urban Development Expert, and Ashish Verma, Urban Development Manager, undertook three productive visits to the cities of Gwalior, Gangtok and Panaji from 7-14 October 2021. The technical visits aimed at meeting the new senior administration and technical personnel, including Commissioners, Mayors, Chief Engineers and other key representatives, and inform them about the project objectives, targets, timelines and workplan. The technical meetings were also utilised to know and understand the current challenges after Covid-19 in relation to important urban services, such as water, waste water, solid waste management and mobility. Finally, it was also useful to understand the key priorities and preferences regarding EU city pairings, key activities and proposed deliverables.
The IURC team first visited the city of Gwalior and met the new Municipal Commissioner, the CEO of Gwalior Smart City and other key city officials. The team also visited the main projects of Gwalior including the heritage area, river rejuvenation, command and control centre, the incubation centre, etc. Following up on the IUC cooperation with Leuven, Belgium, the city has identified sustainable tourism promotion and business development as the main priorities for action. Leuven and Gwalior are expected to share best practices on these issues, while a first virtual meeting already took place.
The IURC team then visited Gangtok and met the Municipal Commissioner, Mayor, representatives of the Sikkim State Government on transport, urban issues, and solid waste management as well as the city councillors. After a presentation about IURC, a detailed discussion followed on key priorities for Gangtok and topics of cooperation. Solid waste management is the main topic of interest for further cooperation. The IURC team also visited the solid waste landfill site at Martam. The team will identify an EU city to pair with Gangtok and work on solid waste management issues.
Finally, the IURC team paid a visit to Panaji in Goa and met the new Municipal Commissioner, Chief Engineer, representatives from the State Department (urban & smart city) and other key city representatives. The team presented the IURC project, visited a number of important sites (e.g. recycling centres, a compost plant) and discussed potential topics of cooperation with the city authorities. These included solid waste management, urban flooding, mobility and heritage conservation. The IURC team will further review these topics and engage an EU city to work with Panaji. In the meantime, renewed attention was paid to the smart parking pilot project that had been developed as part of the IUC programme. IURC will attempt to identify funding to take this project forward.
In Delhi, Panagiotis and Ashish also had the opportunity to meet the President of the Leh Municipal Council and discuss the needs of the city, which is paired with the Greek cities of Trikala, Farkadona and Meteora. After analysing a number of options, it was concluded that solid waste management awareness at schools will be the topic of cooperation. A virtual meeting between the two cities has already taken place to pave the way forward.