Bhubaneswar First Among Smart Cities To Be Child-Friendly

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Lest denizens of the city complain about lack of facilities for children in the Odisha capital, it should be known that Bhubaneswar has accorded the highest importance to children. It is the first among 20 smart cities of the country that has kept children as the focal point while designing and planning in accordance with the smart city proposal.

Not many cities can boast of a dedicated knowledge centre for children on the lines of Bhubaneswar Urban Knowledge Centre (BUKC). Functional under the Bhubaneshwar Development Authority, it is solely dedicated to improving everything that concerns children in city planning. A team of professionals and experts is constantly on the job to make the city more child-friendly on the basis of research conducted on a global scale.

The best part is that children are the de facto planners and designers in that BUKC asks them for their inputs and suggestions and taking these seriously, implements them in city-planning. Its endeavour is to incorporate child-friendly city planning aspects in the proposed development plan 2040 for the city.

What BUKC does?

  • It works in tandem with city and state agencies to design and develop public infrastructure, especially parks, recreational areas, roads etc.

  • It ensures that all these facilities are child-friendly.

How it functions?

  • It takes feedback from the children and youth on their expectations and complaints regarding lack of walking space, safe roads, transport to school, adequate streetlights, toilet facilities etc.

  • This feedback is then used to form proposals and ultimately integrated into city-planning.

Action taken

  • BUKC gathered data from the neighbourhoods of 57 wards in 2017, which included the number of children in each ward, services for them (hospitals, nursing homes, parks, anganwadis, schools).

  • Seven out of the 20 parks were redeveloped keeping the needs of the children in mind. Ramps were also made for differently-abled children.

  • What is more, children were involved in the process. Activity zones were made and children were encouraged to come out with their creative abilities by painting walls,

Highlights

  • Storytelling festival, BhuFeSto in the redeveloped parks in 2018

  • Dedicated pelican crossings/signals near some schools. Children can turn the traffic lights red or green whenever they want to cross the road.

  • Colourful zebra crossings for children.

  • A dedicated children’s plaza in the heart of the city.

Looking ahead

  • BhuFeSto to be held in five parks from Dec 23 to Jan 1, 2020.

  • Low carbon mobility plan by February/March 2020.

  • A dedicated child-friendly city website.

  • Construction of a child-friendly multi-purpose amenities centre as part of every housing project.

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