Professor Aniket Bhagwat is a third generation landscape architect practising in Ahmedabad with m/s Prabhaker B Bhagwat and manages the landscaping for Palava. A stimulating writer, thinker and academician, he co-edits and writes for SPADE, a chronicle on design research.
(inputs for the article given by Prof. Aniket Bhagwat)
Cities have always been, and are even today, engines of growth. They attract a rising tide of people that hope for a better life for themselves and their future generations.
Palava, the Greenfield smart city, has been envisioned to be amongst the 50 most livable places in the world by 2025.
The success of smart cities lies in their sustainability and thus Palava endeavours to be a ‘sustainable’ city and have its characteristics designed in accordance to achieve that vision. A ‘sustainable city’ is also known as an ‘eco-city’, which means it is designed in consideration of environmental impact to ensure that with its high-density, walkable urban fabric, focus on public transport, significant recycling and significant amounts of landscaping, it has the lowest levels of per capita carbon emission globally.
Palava has been carefully planned to incorporate the essential principles of eco-friendly liveability.
The city’s green landscape has been designed to preserve the indigenous flora and create a balance of all strata’s of vegetation that contribute to the diversity of the aesthetics of the city. Preserving the mandate of building a city without disrupting its natural surroundings, the developments have been planned such that they do not disturb the natural surface hydrology, there is no cutting of the rock strata nor is there any disturbance to the natural gradient. The topography of the city’s green spaces focuses on environmental improvement and enhancement of natural resources such as bettering the topsoil quality, preserving existing trees and valuing the natural river, lake and swale that form natural landmarks along with the grasslands and rocky outcrops.
Palava’s land was always dotted with trees and the planning strategy ensured that all those trees were untouched or transplanted, as best suited, to fulfill design requirements of the open greens within the master plan. The plantation palette was carefully chosen after taking into consideration the land topography and its soil.
Understanding that planting new saplings would need several years to grow and provide the much-needed benefits, we set up a nursery at Posari, a village close to Palava, well in advance, to grow trees that are presently being used across the city.
The trees are procured and nurtured for their growth and health and thereafter planted around the city to enhance its green cover.
Phase I presently has over 21,000 trees while Phase II is planned to have over 1,00,000 trees.
While designing the open green space, the focus remains to strengthen the existing greens and nurturing the present environs to create a healthy experience for the citizens. And the recently held Go Green initiative, undertaken by the Palava City Management Association with support from the citizens reaffirmed our line of thought, as they came together to plant over 5,000 saplings across different neighbourhoods.
The parks, waterfronts and community greens in the city are designed to provide a diverse experience to the sensory palette. While the lake is 5 times the size of the Banganga Tank, the riverfront stretches up to 2.4 km, which is thrice the distance of Girgaum Chowpatty.
Today, Palava’s ratio of open spaces accounts to 2.5 sq.m./person as compared to 1.1 sq.m./person in Mumbai.
The masterplan is also designed keeping in focus walkability, having basic amenities such as schools, clubs, retail and parks within a 5 minutes walking distance. Therefore, pavements are well shaded and equipped with essential signages, benches and bins. Aiming to encourage a car-free environment and reduce pollution due to gas combustion, the city has dedicated bicycle tracks to ride through its neighbourhoods.
While at the macro level, the present design and proposed development is well aligned with the existing natural elements and planning flexibilities, at a micro level, it focuses on the citizen’s aspirations and needs. In all, the landscape design of the Palava tries to create opportunities with a diverse range of programs within a cohesive master plan that is primarily essential to improve the quality of urban living.
Pick a hobby; it will help you uplift your spirit!
Do you like to stroll in the mall? Do Bollywood beats make you tap your feet? Does nature make you strap on your hiking boots? Are you a religious yoga buff?
If yes, you may be unknowingly doing a lot of good for your health, says Dr. Kavita Nikam, physician at the Healthspring Clinic at Palava. Read on the find out the how your hobbies are keeping you fit! Take that time out for them, they are doing you good!
Hike to build a robust heart
“Trekking is a good exercise to keep the heart healthy and agile. As one engages in cardio exercise while trekking the heart pumps blood vigorously and helps in strengthening the cardiac muscles,” says Dr. Nikam. It may not be such a bad idea after all to take a holiday every quarter for a quick trip to the hills.
Shop to burn off sugar
A visit to the mall does more than simply elevate your mood, says Dr. Nikam, and adds “Regular walking for 30 minutes helps cut down the risk of type 2 diabetes by 60%.” Now block your calendar for a stroll every day; remember you can choose the location or the store of your choice!
Dance away your stress
“Any high intensity dance form with upbeat moves helps release mood-improving endorphins,” explains Dr. Nikam. Zumba, Kathak, Bhangda, take your pick and step into the groove. It is time to let the music play!
Swim to beat insomnia blues
“Swimming is the best exercise for peaceful sleep at night,” advises Dr. Nikam, “and it was reiterated by the findings of a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation.” After all a few laps followed by a plenty of refreshing dips isn’t really exercise, it is more of unwinding in bliss.
Flex to boost immunity
“Study has shown that regular practice of yoga helps build the immune system and fight off infections,” reveals Dr. Nikam. A recent Norwegian study revealed that yoga helps in changing gene expression that positively impacts the cellular composition. Hurry! Grab your yoga mat today!
Sky lanterns or floating lights have today become a part of pop culture though their origin can be traced back to 3rdCentury BC. From battlefields to cultural ceremonies and wedding traditions to festive rituals, sky lanterns have been a part of many ceremonies across China, Thailand, Taiwan and the rest of Asia.
During the Three Kingdoms Era, the sky lanterns were used on the battlefield to communicate with one another, and once peace settled the peasants and royalty used them to thank God for all the blessings, cast away fear and wish for a prosperous future. A wedding that is symbolic of newlyweds beginning a journey together often sees the couple light one lantern together and the wedding guests light others with personalized wishes for the couple’s future. In Thailand green lanterns are lit for personal growth and purple ones carry personalized wishes. In China, the final New Year celebrations is the Lantern Festival during which locals release Chinese New Year taboos.
Be it prayers for good health, happy marriage, good harvest season or relief from worries; a sky lantern is believed to make wishes come true.
It is believed that the longer and higher the sky lanterns float, the more likely the deities will receive your requests. The sky lantern ceremony has come to represent the releasing of one’s deepest fears and desires. It is a symbolic cleansing, a letting go of everything that troubles you. It is also the beginning of a new, enlightened you, with the light illuminating the path of knowledge and righteousness.
This Palava Weekend, we will be celebrating the joy of Diwali with a sky lantern show on the 29th of October, 2016. Join in to count your blessings.
Find out how urban city development initiatives are fulfiling India’s need to comply with the smart city trend.
Ever since the Narendra Modi-led NDA government assumed office in Delhi, the public discourse on urban development in India has been dominated by “smart cities”. However, debates on this topic have often been misinformed since there is a lack of clarity on what exactly a smart city is. Interestingly, the guidelines of the government’s Smart City Mission itself state that “there is no universally accepted definition of a Smart City” since “it means different things to different people”.
While globally the term has become synonymous with the use of technology and data for improving various aspects of a city, in India the usage has been less precise. Much of the initial discussion implied that smart cities would be entirely new cities. In fact, the 2014 election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party promised to build “100 new cities; enabled with the latest in technology and infrastructure”.
Hence, when the Modi government announced its plan to create “100 smart cities”, the presumption was that India would get 100 new cities. It was only in June 2015 when it officially launched the Smart City Mission that the contours of India’s smart city policy got some clarity.
One year after its launch, it’s now clear that the Smart City Mission is not about building 100 new cities– it instead aims to make existing cities, in fact only certain designated areas within them, smart. While the Mission also requires each city to have a pan-city initiative, the thrust is to develop a compact area within a city through retrofitting or redevelopment of an existing built-up area or greenfield development of a vacant area.
While smart cities in India are now closely identified with the Smart City Mission, the vacuousness of the term has led to it being invoked for various forms of urban development. If we examine just Mumbai and its surrounding areas, we can get a sense of how different kinds of smart cities are sought to be created in different locations.
The many smart cities of Mumbai
Under the Smart City Mission, there are four different smart cities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region- Greater Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan-Dombivili.
The smart city proposals of these cities focus on developing certain pockets of the city– Lower Parel in the case of Mumbai and Koperkhairane in the case of Navi Mumbai– and also promote the deployment of smart technologies. Interestingly, the municipal corporations of some of these cities had expressed reservations about the governance structure of the proposed smart cities and eventually, none of the cities in the region were selected in the first round of funding under the Mission.
Independent of the Smart City Mission, the City and Industrial Development Corporation, a state government agency, is developing the seven southern nodes– Kharghar, Kamothe, Kalamboli, Pushpak, Panvel, Ulwe and Dronagiri– in its Navi Mumbai (South) Smart City project. The Corporation also has a greenfield urban development project near the new Navi Mumbai airport called the Pushpak Nagar Smart City, spread across 230 hectares. Much of the developments in the Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area, which covers 561 sq.km are also marketed as a “smart city”.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority is the other state agency which has caught the smart city bug. It is developing Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex as a smart city by providing Wi-Fi connectivity, surveillance systems and smart parking facility. It is also developing 5 hubs along the proposed 126-km Virar-Alibaug Multi-Modal Corridor– Vasai-Virar, Bhiwandi, Greater Kalyan, Greater Panvel and Pen-Alibaug– as smart cities.
Along with state agencies, there are also private players which are creating their own versions of smart cities in the Mumbai region. Palava built by the Lodha Group is the most prominent example of a private smart city. It has partnered with IBM to introduce smart governance through measures like intelligent security systems. Another interesting initiative near Mumbai is the Khalapur Smart City where a set of farmers in 11 villages have pooled 3,550 hectares of land to create an integrated township in partnership with the City and Industrial Development Corporation.
Smart Cities as a marketing trope
As the case of Mumbai illustrates, multiple avatars of smart cities are being built in various locations. The narrative on smart cities in India is hence not restricted to cities under the government’s Smart City Mission. Rather, the term is being invoked for a variety of modernist urban projects whether it’s building new cities, applying technological fixes to existing cities, development of hubs along industrial corridors, retrofitting certain areas within a city or building private townships. By invoking the term “smart city”, these varied urban developments are able to legitimise and market themselves better.
Indian cities are dominated by unplanned developments, an informal economy and messy local politics. This urban realty is increasingly coming under challenge in the post-liberalised era with private capital seeking to reshape the nature of the city. In this context, smart cities are being promoted by the state and the market to create more ordered forms of urban development. The term “smart city” has thus become a trope for promoting a variety of capital-driven planned urban initiatives that is at odds with the predominant forms of urban realty in India.
This article first appeared on Scroll.
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Smart cities are the need of the hour and they have to adopt and take advantage of information, communication technologies and data analytics to improve the management of traffic, solid waste, energy, water and citizen services.
Nestled in 330 acres of sylvan surroundings and home to over 5,000 residents, India’s Rashtrapati Bhavan is being given an ‘intelligent’ makeover with smart technologies and devices like smart meters and smart security, water and waste-management solutions besides smart citizen services.
To ensure that all these services are connected and work seamlessly but without destroying the iconic institution’s heritage, the self-sustained presidential estate in New Delhi now has an Intelligent Operations Centre (IOC) that was launched by President Pranab Mukherjee on 19 May.
The IOC system, implemented by International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), has been integrated with the electrical billing system to provide data on consumption patterns of consumers, public and common areas within the estate. Given that Rashtrapati Bhavan consumes over 100,000 units of electricity daily, the move will help optimize energy management.
Additionally, newer eco-friendly technology such as solar power, LED lamps for street lighting and other applications to reduce energy consumptions are deployed. IBM has also mapped all water domain assets such as underground water reservoirs, pump locations and tube well assets the entire water distribution pipeline on a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) layer to enable faster diagnostic and resolution of water incidents, and allow residents to track complaints in real-time.
IBM has also mapped waste management from waste bin collections, rickshaw routes, disposals, landfill, and processing onto its IOC system. A mobile app platform assists teams in maintaining a cleaner estate. Besides, a Citizens Mobile App, created by IBM’s IOC allows residents to report issues using the web and mobile. The data will be supplied to city offices which can use the insights to make informed decisions.
“The move to convert the Rashtrapati Bhavan into a smart city is unique not because of the significance of that institution but because we also had to preserve its heritage, which means that we could not simply redo the place and put up a lot of instrumentation that would mar the look of the place,” Prashant Pradhan, director-smarter planet business, IBM India and South Asia, said.
As with the work done in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, a poster-boy for the government’s Smart Cities vision, a typical smart city would take advantage of information and communications technologies (ICT) and data analytics to improve the management of traffic, solid waste, energy, water and citizen services. While smart transportation can reduce traffic congestion and air pollution with the help of parking meters and sensors, enhancing surveillance systems can reduce the crime rate and create a smart public safety system. A smart city’s power distribution infrastructure would be built on smart grid technologies and integrated with power demand patterns and grid supply variations.
Cisco Systems Inc. has been collaborating with several state governments in India for Smart City projects across areas like surveillance, smart cities, automation, etc. Cisco recently named Jaipur as the first Smart + Connected Community Lighthouse City in South Asia. The Cisco Lighthouse City status credential is assigned to a select list of cities all over the world.
Cisco has also established a Smart City surveillance system in Lucknow with 280 cameras, 10,000 drones and night-vision mobile vans. Smart surveillance projects that drive citizen safety with round-the-clock monitoring will make digital crime fighting a key focus area.
Vizag Smart City is equipped with the Andhra Pradesh (AP) fibre Net, a state-wide broadband project. Cisco has announced an Internet of Everything (IoE) Innovation Centre in Vizag and is also deploying technologies like Smart Wi-Fi, Smart Safety and Security, Smart Lighting, Smart Parking, Smart Transport, Smart Bus Stops, Smart Kiosks, a Remote Expert for government Services (REGS) and Smart Education.
Microsoft Corp. has partnered with the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) in Gujarat to transform Surat; the hub of India’s diamond trade into a smart city. Surat is the fourth-fastest growing city in the world, with a population of 5 million and a business hub that processes 80% of the world’s diamonds and meets 40% of India’s demand for textiles, according to Milind Torawane, Surat’s municipal commissioner. SMC is working with Microsoft and its partners to develop solutions for water management and urban planning (building plan approvals). Surat has already implemented several e-governance and citizen-centric solutions developed on Microsoft technologies, including those for property tax and revenue collections and material management. Microsoft has also created a city dashboard that provides a customized view of key performance indicators for the city.
Palava’s smart technology, for which it has partnered with IBM, also extends to 500 surveillance cameras that capture real-time data and, in future, will support face recognition for entry and have panic alarms every 200 metres. A smart card given to all Palava citizens will allow cashless transactions at retail centres, access to bus service, public Wi-Fi within the city’s premises, buildings and commercial points of entry.
The fact that cities are bursting at the seams is not lost on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which, on 29 April 2015, signed off on a plan to create 100 ‘smart cities’ and the rolling out of a new five-year urban development mission for 500 cities. The combined cost: Rs.1 trillion. This January, the government selected 20 cities, including five state capitals, to launch its larger urban makeover plan—the first phase of the larger plan to set up 100 smart cities. The next round of the competition is to select 40 cities this year.
To be sure, there are major challenges that the government needs to address as it goes about the task of building smart cities. Besides, building a smart city is “not always about IT but is more about smartly designing a city” according to Jaijit Bhattacharya, partner, infrastructure and government services, at consulting firm KPMG.
Bhattacharya pointed out that most of the work that technology companies are doing for the designated smart cities so far has been ‘pro bono’, implying that now tenders will have to be floated to execute the projects. According to Bhattacharya, a “command and control system (referring to the IOC) is important but there is also a need for a common IT architecture for all states, failing which they (the states) will have to retrofit this”.
Another hurdle is that India has a federal democratic structure, so it needs the cooperation and coordination of states, coupled with that of urban local bodies, to build smart cities.
This article first appeared on Live Mint.
Read more to find out how Palava has adopted smart technology for a brighter future on Palava’s website.
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As per the latest report, the first phase of the Airoli-Katai Naka Freeway is expected to be completed by September 2021. Once ready, the 12 kms long Airoli Katai Naka Freeway will provide direct and quick access to people travelling from Mumbai to Kalyan and Badlapur region. The project will decongest the heavy traffic and will bring Palava closer to Mumbai, cutting travel time by 30 mins. Additionally, the work of Palava Junction flyover will now be fast tracked owing to the approval from Central Railway. This will decongest the traffic flow and provide traffic-free access into Palava.
MMRDA has already started the work on the freeway which is being constructed in 3 phases – a link between Thane-Belapur road and NH4 (phase 1), elevated road from Airoli to Thane-Belapur (phase 2) and a link between NH4 and Katai Naka (phase 3). Work is on full swing for a tunnel at the Parsik Hill and elevated road near Airoli Bridge.
Watch out for the upcoming Casa Carnival
Casa Carnival is a fun-fair evening organised in Palava by the Palava Citizen Management Association. To be held at the Amphitheatre, by the Rio riverside promenade, it promises to entertain all with funfilled games, delicious food, shopping avenues and more. The last carnival saw over 800 residents revel together from the Casa Bella neighbourhood.
‘What doesn’t break you, only makes you stronger’, ‘Say no to relationships’, ‘Dreams don’t work until you do’, ‘Genius is a one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perception, ‘In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity’ are often heard being quoted by warriors in suited armour within closed boardrooms. This fact is soon becoming fiction as suits are being replaced with boots and boardroom wars are being battled on sport fields! With days seeming shorter, meetings extending longer and life pacing faster, corporates are now encouraging teams to take to outdoor sports to lend a recreational pause to their gallivanting lives. Addressing this demand for short recreational activities, traditional games are being customized to meet modern business needs. The recent popular sport being played by the gutsy boys is Rink Football, the shorter yet enthralling version of traditional soccer. “Rink Football or Futsal was introduced almost a decade ago,” says Nitin Kanhekar, Head of Corporate Sports at SportzConsult, the management company who organized the first-ever Palava Corporate Challenge last week. The Palava Football Stadium saw 32 teams play Rink football and battle it out on the FIFA standard astro-turf.
“Corporates are often preoccupied with tight schedules and hardly get time to train for football professionally. And for those who do train, pursuing traditional football becomes a challenge with the lack of available open spaces in the city and sufficient members to form a team of 11 players,” says Nitin, “Though with Rink football, contained play space, smaller teams and shorter playtime makes play easier and doubles the excitement.”
Rink Football is a 15 minute game played on an astro-truf between two teams of 5 players each. Each half is of 7 ½ minutes duration. The boundaries of the play turf are marked by walls and the goal post is smaller. Unlike the traditional format, the goalkeeper is not allowed to throw the ball back with his hands, there is no extra time and most importantly, there is no red card! For a game which heads into tie-breakers, the winner is decided directly by a penalty shootout. “This format can be further customized to make it more challenging by introducing rules such as not allowing the goalkeeper to defend using his hands, and keeping the goalkeeper floating. With the goalkeeper being rotated, the attack strategy needs to be constantly amended within limited time,” says Nitin.
Highlighting another prominent reason for the popularity of Futsal, Nitin states that it provides an opportunity to introduce football to youngsters and enthusiasts and encourage them to experience the sport. “This provides a platform for professionals to identify potential talent which can be honed further. It is a boon for football scouts,” he says.
Echoing the objective of this new format of football, Palava too aims to provide its citizens the opportunity and best suited facilities to experience sports, and identify their interest and strengthen them further. The Palava Football Stadium situated on the periphery of the city is furnished with a FIFA standard astro-turf and holds regular professional camps to coach football enthusiasts. Presently, the citizens of Palava are being trained by professionals from Kenkre Football Academy.
The Palava Corporate Challenge brought together Corporate honchos to trade monochrome shirts and shoes for bold team tees and spike boots! The Palava Football Stadium was divided into 4 quadrants to simultaneously have 8 teams play together in the qualifiers. The matches were played under the keen watch of 10 referees from the Mumbai Football Association. The final was played between JP Morgan and Intelenet, with the latter taking home the winner’s trophy! And that day among the spectators, cheering the teams and watching the action was the ‘Black Pearl of Indian Football’, I.M. Vijayan!
Guest of honour for the afternoon, I.M. Vijayan was the biggest motivation for the players. Before signing off, Nitin says, “The corporates enjoyed playing at Palava and look forward to next challenge.” As aptly said by Jerry Rice, “To me, it was never about what I accomplished on the football field, it was about the way I played the game.”
Trick the Rink – 5 key tips
Befriend the wall – Keep the ball low and use the wall for rebounding shots and nifty passes.
Attack is your best defense – Play fast rather than playing hard. The turf is quick so move quickly too.
Play to live – With no red cards and unlimited substitution, go for the kill!
Choose your shape wisely – Form the diamond, pyramid, square or Y, as best suited for that minute.
Hi-five – Stay together in mind and unhinged on field.
The second Casa Carnival was held at the Rio amphitheatre at Palava on 17th April 2016. With an array of mouthwatering snacks, beautifully handcrafted goods and electrifying performances it enthralled all family and friends. There was something for everybody, shoppers indulged in beautiful artifacts and jewellery, friends competed at game stalls and kids bounced high in air castles. The evening was enlivened by a series of dance performances beginning with little ones dancing to Bollywood beats, followed by folk dances, Garba and a dash of hip hop! And in addition to this action, guests were treated to two flash mob performances! The Palava Citizen Management Association was delighted to host wonderful guests, and make the evening bigger, better and bolder for them all. Here are some glimpses of that weekend. For those who missed out, we hope to see you at the next one!
A number of stalls were set up where our citizens displayed their handicrafts, jewellery, home made food and much more.
The air castle was every child’s favourite spot.
The amphitheatre was packed with people. From the minute the electrifying performances began, till the very end, the audience was absolutely entertained.
Everyone was surprised by the flash mob. It definitely was the highlight of the evening!
Palava laid the foundation of a green future for generations to come with the Go Green initiative that kickstarted in May last year. Organised by PCMA with the support of the citizens, this initiative encourages each to do their bit for the environment while enjoying fun weekends bonding with their neighbours.
The Go Green initiative held across the weekends saw young and old citizens plant over 5,000 saplings of various trees including Coconut and Sita Ashok, across the neighbourhoods of Palava. Guided by the city’s expert horticulturists, the citizens planted saplings from the Palava’s own nursery located at Posari, a few kilometres away from the city. With each passing weekend, citizens participated with double the enthusiasm, toiling with shovels and getting their hands dirty in the mud.
Palava’s Go Green initiative has been immensely successful, thanks to the overwhelming support from its people. Citizens of all ages came out on the weekends, put on their caps and planted several saplings. While parents felt there was no better way to have their children bond with nature, children couldn’t get enough of the saplings and gave them each a nickname to remember!
Palava citizens appreciated the initiative that made their environment greener and cleaner. Owing to the success of the events and the spirit in which Palava citizens participated, Go Green initiative led to the onset of Go Green tours that took citizens to spend an afternoon at Palava’s nursery. Such has been the support towards this initiative that now Go Green activities are being featured regularly in the city calendar through the year. Today, Palava is home to over 20,000 trees and the number only keeps growing!