Kohima smart city has registered for the Streets for People Challenge, becoming one of the 113 cities to have registered for the challenge in the country.

The city is in the process of forming core teams with representatives from among citizens and organisations for consultation and envisioning together.

“For Kohima Smart City, our strength is the people and we recognise the need for the community to be at the heart of the process who must be empowered to make informed decisions affecting their lives through the process thereby paving the way for sustainable urban planning,” an official said.

To support the city, citizens and organisations can go to the link https://bit.ly/3kO2Rd8 and offer their support and suggestions. It is an invitation to envision and create pedestrian paradises for all citizens, with all citizens.

Streets for People Challenge is an initiative of the Smart Cities Mission under the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs (MoHUA) to inspire cities to create walking-friendly streets through quick measures, in response to COVID19.

The challenge was launched by Union minister for housing and urban affairs Haredeep Singh Puri on September 11 during a virtual event organised by the Smart Cities Mission.

The minister said with the lifting of the lockdown, cities face many challenges in providing safe, affordable, and equitable modes of transport that enable social distancing.

Limited public transport options, narrow, crowded sidewalks particularly in the market places and deterioration of mental health, are key issues that must be addressed on priority, he said.

According to Puri, pedestrianisation of streets for walking and creating public spaces is a crucial step towards mitigating these issues.

Streets for People Challenge is the response to the need for making our cities more walkable and pedestrian-friendly.

Cities are required to reimagine their streets as public spaces through the lens of economic regeneration, safety and child-friendly interventions with inclusive designing, in order to ensure a green recovery from COVID19.

The challenge will support cities across the country to develop a unified vision of streets for people in consultation with stakeholders and citizens and is open for all the 100 Smart cities, all capital cities of states and UTs and cities with a population of over five lakh population.

The first online workshop “Taking the first step” was held on October 1 which included panel discussion and sharing of stories from the ground to help cities kickstart the challenge.

The challenge requires each city to test at least one flagship walking project and enhance livability in one neighbourhood.

Streets and public spaces around transit hubs, heritage zones, commercial streets, market areas, recreational corridors or any high footfall zones can be considered as potential locations for the flagship project

Cities can test quick, innovative and low-cost interventions using elements such as planters, seaters, barricades, signages, paints, makeshift play equipment, and by engaging with the community through events and campaigns.

Cities can also strategise shared ownership policies and activate spaces through programming. In the longer term, the MoHUA encourages cities to convert these temporary interventions into permanent ones.

The Challenge has been divided into two stages – pilot intervention and conceptual scale-up plan from September 2020 to January 2021 and scaling up the transformation and strategizing measures for long-term impact from February 2021 to May 2021.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com