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UNFPA inks pact with BMC to promote Socially Smart city

Bhubaneswar, Nov 18: Exactly a month after Member States of the United Nations met at Quito, Ecuador, to adopt the ‘New Urban Agenda’, the Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited has signed an MoU with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to take the agenda forward in Odisha. 

The Quito declaration stresses upon readdressing the way cities and human settlements are planned, designed, financed, developed, governed and managed in order to reduce inequalities, promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and achieve gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.

The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation-UNFPA collaboration envisions a Smart City where there would be special focus on the needs of young people, girls and women. To promote safety and security of girls and women, especially in the urban slums, safety audits and community engagement programmes are on the anvil.

A range of innovative interventions would help look beyond a brick-and-mortar blueprint to factor in people-centric interventions. To name a few: The Citizen Connect programme, Support My City volunteer programme, and Neighborhood Watch programme.

In order to tap the demographic dividend, a youth-centric and youth-led integrated social intervention would be implemented in educational institutions of Bhubaneswar with several earmarked for the slums of the Bhubaneswar Town Center District Area.

The MoU also looks at addressing issues and needs of women and adolescent girls including safety, gender-based violence and barriers to access health services.

At a special function held for signing the MoU, Tourism and Culture Minister Ashok Chandra Panda said that having won the coveted Smart City challenge, Bhubaneswar now needs to live up the expectations of the people.

When Bhubaneswar was formed in 1948, it covered a mere 26 sqkm and had a population of 40,000. Today, the city spans over 135 sqkm and has more than a million people. More than two-thirds of this population increase has been because of migration from the hinterlands. This has also given rise to slums. As per the estimates of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, 35 per cent of the city’s population lives in more than 300 slums.

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