The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that the creation of pedestrian non-motorized zones is the need of the hour curb traffic congestions. He was addressing the inaugural session of the Smart City Expo India 2018, in Jaipur, Rajasthan today. The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs (I/C), Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, the Minister for Urban Development, Rajasthan, Shri Shrichand Kriplani, the Minister for Minority Affairs, Rajasthan, Shri Arun Chaturvedi, the Governor of South Australia, Mr. Hieu Van Le AC and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

The Vice President asked city planners to accord highest priority to the livelihood, security, health, education and skilling of the poor, migrants, and women and said that vulnerabilities of the marginalized sections of the society must be kept in mind. Social development should be at the core of every project undertaken by Smart Cities, he added.

The Vice President that you should address the concerns of air, water, soil and sound pollution in cities, apart from the need to promote energy efficiency, recycling urban waste, sustainable soil and land use. He also stressed on the need to develop neighboring villages as Smart villages by ensuring quality education, health, income opportunities in non-agriculture and allied industries to counter or limit the uneven influx of population into cities.

The Vice President said that India cannot afford lopsided development by allowing the villages to lag behind. He further said that top priority has to be given to provide road, electric and digital connectivity to villages. Digital technology can link villages with wider market for their produce and roads can ensure logistical linkage, he added.

Vice President said that traffic congestions and vehicular pollution have become the order of day in our cities and highlighted the need to look critically at the issue of city mobility and urban planning. He further said that our cities have become energy guzzlers with people preferring fuel-inefficient private vehicles over mass public transport. We cannot allow this trend to continue and concerted action is needed to promote public transport in a big way, he added.

The Vice President said that Governance at door step is the key objective of smart cities and he asked authorities to work towards digitization of city governance, services, certifications and approvals without unnecessary personal interface.

The Vice President said that no line but online should be the mantra to cut down red tape and provide citizen-centric services. This singular step will save the time and effort of citizens and enhance the overall efficiency of the city, he said.

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