Challenges of the So-Called Smart City: Vadodara’s Stalled Development of City Bus Stations Raises Safety Concerns

The adage goes that Vadodara, touted as a smart city, appears ‘smart’ only on paper. Even the Chief Minister acknowledged that Vadodara hasn’t seen much development. While the city’s lifeline, its bus services, serves citizens well, the state of smart city bus stops leaves much to be desired. 

A recent ground report by Source shed light on over 50 bus stops lacking time display units and surveillance cameras, rendering them practically invisible. Many of these stops have dangerously exposed live electric wires, posing a serious risk to people’s lives. Opposition leaders have pointed out that Vadodara may be called a smart city, but the reality tells a different story.

City Bus Service in the Smart City Presentation

Contrasting Realities: City Bus Service in the Smart City Presentation

In the presentation of the smart city in the city, the presentation of the city bus service and the current situation are poles apart. In the absence of Vinayak Logistics, the city bus service is being operated. 

There are 62 routes for this city bus service in the city, with more than 600 city bus stops available. However, the ground reality of these city bus stops, as revealed by Source, paints a grim picture.

Bus stop in a dilapidated condition

Discoveries at Several Stops

At several stops, it was found that when pressure was applied, some seats gave way. At places where bench arrangements were dismantled, the names of CCTV and stops were missing. LED boards displaying details about city bus services were absent in places where the bench arrangement was broken. 

At some stops, encroachments were observed where individuals had made makeshift living spaces. Some locations had power boards installed on the stops along with unbearable filth, while at other spots, live wires were dangerously exposed.

Smelly water was found in the cistern at the bus stop

Encountering Unbearable Filth

During the ground report conducted by Source, upon reaching the Zaver Nagar City Bus Stop on the First Waghodia Road, unbearable filth was observed. Moving forward to the Panigate City Bus Stop, passengers were seen struggling to find seats due to broken benches. 

As the report progressed to the four roads junction in Laheripura, CCTV cameras and display boards were notably absent. While there are city bus stops in the expanding areas of the city, they weren’t visible that day. This was because encroachments by street vendors obstructed the passengers, causing inconvenience.

Pressure of lorry holders and display off

Encroachment Beyond Bus Stops

Moving ahead, where the street vendors’ obstruction ends, towards the towers near Raopura, at the crossroads of Kothi Char Rasta, and at the Sayaji Hospital Gate and Sayaji Hospital Panchmukhi Bus Stop, open wires and non-functional displays were observed. 

Further into the expanding area of Karelibaug, at the Muktanand Bus Stop, the display was non-functional, and there was nothing but a stand leading to a water tank from Muktanand. However, beyond the encroachments, street vendors were continuing with their businesses, and some stops were seen pressed into a non-compliant usage.

Lorry drivers line up in front of the bus stop

Bus Stops Turned into Illegal Dwellings!

Heading further into Karelibaug, the situation remained the same at the water tank, Premdas Jalaram Hospital, and Mahavir Char Rasta Bus Stops. Even the wells filled with water emitted foul odors and were infested with insects. 

Later, near the Khanderao Market Char Rasta Bus Stop, helplessly, individuals had built homes for themselves and were comfortably settled. As we progressed towards Kirti Stambh, Sayajibaug, MSU, Amitnagar, VIP Road Bright School, Fatehganj IMI, and Wadi Circle Bus Stops, similar scenes unfolded. Some stops lacked shelters, while others had dysfunctional time display units and missing cameras.

Boards were found in broken condition

No Utilization of Funds in Rupees

Following Subhanpura, Nizampura, Sama, Gotri, Gorwa, Manjalpur, Makarpura, Abhilasha, and similar expansions, the condition of most bus stops is markedly different. It can be said that amidst discussions of a smart city, development seems to be unevenly distributed. 

This corporation is awarding contracts under PPP but isn’t effectively utilizing the funds allocated. The utilization of funds in rupees is not visible under these contracts.

Risk to people's lives due to exposed electrical wires

Absence of Facilities at Bus Stops

Regarding this matter, opposition leaders expressed that in the presentation made under the Smart City project in the fiscal year 2016-17, it was mentioned that each city bus stop would be equipped with facilities indicating the time intervals for every few seconds. 

However, currently, there are no such facilities available at the bus stops in Vadodara. If you observe the condition of the bus stops, you’ll find live wires exposed, indicating a lack of maintenance.

Corporation Leader of Opposition Ami Rawat

Excessive Expenditure on Bus Services

It has been highlighted that the manner in which the presentation was made has led to the opposite of smartness, turning the city into an “unsmart” one. The buses and bus stops for city bus services have become substandard. 

Millions of rupees are being spent on bus services, with an excess payment of 42 crores made in the bus service, which is plagued by rampant corruption. Basic infrastructure services like bus stop maintenance are neglected. The Smart Corporation is, ironically, providing examples of smart corruption.

Social leader Kamlesh Parmar

Smart City Status Since 2017

Social activist Kamlesh Parmar has stated that Vadodara city has been granted the status of a smart city since 2017. Following this designation, smart bus stops were established in Vadodara city.

However, some bus stops lack displays or CCTV cameras, and the responsible authorities have not taken accountability for these shortcomings. Additionally, some individuals have been observed crowding around these bus stops. Advertisements are displayed at bus stops at the discretion of the advertisers, often obstructing visibility.

The Accountability of Maintenance Expenditure

In Vadodara city, the expenditure incurred in the name of maintenance raises questions about accountability. It has been highlighted that in cases where an individual faces inconvenience or accidents due to negligence in maintenance, who bears the responsibility? 

This issue has been brought to the attention of the Mayor, Chairman, and Commissioner of Vadodara city. It is emphasized that whenever the Chief Minister focuses on the city’s development, it should not just be about showcasing progress but also ensuring accountability. The allocation and utilization of maintenance funds need to be transparent and clearly documented to ensure that they serve their intended purpose.

Deteriorating State of the City

The name of the city is gradually losing its charm as it has been pointed out that promising commitments made by those in power often turn out to be mere illusions. Currently, with India moving towards digitalization, there is a need for mobile charging points, which are currently difficult to find due to the deteriorating situation. 

Consequently, there seems to be no significant improvement because the funds allocated for maintenance often vanish without any visible impact. If you observe closely, you’ll notice that the condition of almost all bus stops in the vicinity has deteriorated significantly. 

Holding authorities and contractors accountable and providing them with proper guidance is essential. External commuters are left stranded at bus stops, and this reflects poorly on the reputation of Vadodara city.

Officials Passing the Buck

In a recent incident, it was revealed that Deputy Municipal Commissioner Hasmukh Prajapati of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation claimed to have no knowledge of a particular matter. This information was relayed to you by the Futuristic Department, but when you attempted to discuss the matter with Prajapati, he denied any involvement. 

Efforts were made to contact officials from the Futuristic Department through the Source, but they dodged the issue and provided vague responses. Eventually, it became apparent that officials were simply passing the buck to each other, leaving you in a state of uncertainty.

Niyati Rao

Niyati Rao is a seasoned writer and avid consumer who specializes in crafting informative and engaging articles and product reviews. With a passion for research and a knack for finding the best deals, Niyati enjoys helping readers make informed decisions about their purchases.