Dr. Piyush Ranjan Rout
Sixty Nine year ago on April 13th Maha Bisuba Sankranti day foundation for independent India’s first planned city was laid in Bhubaneswar as the Capital of Modern Odisha by nations first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Where as once the city of banyan trees, pensioners dream home, a quite & peaceful walking streets has now a congested, polluted, expensive and has been engulfed completely by its inhabitants, with an influx of people from all over India. However, despite all odds one can still walk into a forest, see the Shiva, Buddha, Jain Temple, view the sunset from top of Khandagiri & Udayagiri Hills, have a boating inside Kanjia Lakes, drink a cup of tea in some corner of the city along with localities, walk around Old Town and gaze at some of the Hotel & street foods.
Interestingly the principle that structured Bhubaneswar sixty nine years ago by its founding director Otto H Königsberger were A Women could easily walk to a Health Centre, Market, School without depending on others; a children would able to walk into school, play ground located in walking distance; A city driven by Grid Shaped Square as the basic of city planning were the driving principle that were core of Neighbourhood based city planning inspired by Cities of former Soviet Union, Barcelona in Spain, Rio De Janeiro in Brazil, London in UK, Stuttgart in Germany were some of the city that some way other ignited Bhubaneswar City Plan.
That was the time when Singapore was not even born nor thought of a city state. Well those are history today Bhubaneswar is chasing to become Singapore. The challenge is do Bhubaneswar have the resources of investing in recreating artificial forests or should the city repents butchering its own banyan trees that once use to be its greenery identity. The reality is in this process of becoming world class city once the core of ecological sensitive planning now replaced with concrete jungles having big towers in place of green space or gaining space by squeezing public space or water ways now turned as sewerage drains that generation who were born post nineties can’t believe their dream city was once lived by their own parents.
Well near to seven decades after all its inspiring city were hosted Olympic or Soccer World Cup by waving their success story in world map. Where as Bhubaneswar if not preserved its Neighbourhood Plan at least have done something interesting along with its inspiring cities inside Kalinga Stadium by hosting Champions Trophy in Hockey and in 2017 would host 22nd edition of Asian Athletics Meet where 45 Nations will add their footprint, then World Hockey League Final in which eight of the world’s best men’s teams, in addition to India as hosts will be in action and finally the big one Mens World Cup Hockey in 2018 will bring 15 of the world best nations teams along with hosts India into Bhubaneswar. These sports event apart from game will push the brand image of Temple City Bhubaneswar globally like never before and hopefully the city would able to market its brand sooner.
Similarly gateway to the world also going to open in 2017 when first direct flight between Bhubaneswar and Kuala Lumpur will takeoff and land then truly world will witness the city name scrolling in an international Airport would certainly be the moment that will bring cheer. Hopefully by then Bhubaneswar must be in a better position to welcome its international guests not only for tourism but also business and pumping its economy and a makeover to erode its name tag as capital of Poorest state of India. Perhaps the world owns many such examples that hopefully would also be showered on Bhubaneswar.
However, what worries in seventy years journey is that the city good bye Spring and once the Green Capital became Hottest City. The hope now remains will Bhubaneswar be able to ground it’s 1948 Neighbourhood dream in ongoing SMARTCITY dreams, so that not only women but all others be able to walk freely, a child could go to school without any fear, a child may find space to play in Neighbourhood play ground, then if not Olympics then at least city must host National Game and get back it’s lost Spring while cooling down the City.
In specific todays modern Bhubaneswar is a gift of last century that experimented late nineteenth century efforts the Parks movement, the City Beautiful movement, the Progressive movement for government reform and efforts to improve public health through the provision of better infrastructure. As the city evolved from diverse journey such as Shivasim Buddhism, Jainism etc, but they all strengthened a desire to produce a more systematic urban forms.
Bhubaneswar is presently passing through a phase of rebuilding its identity as a vibrant city in eastern India as main hub for services, transport and administration, while its historic core heritage remains undisturbed, a new Sea Food Park along with a modern Agricultural Farming Park coming up in western corridor along with Information Technology Park and modern educational institutions are pumping desired human resources; similarly its Airport is ready to fly beyond boarders and plenty of water bodies might get a revival to rejuvenate its natural sponges; together is setting a mosaic of urban villages that could be compared with any international urban regions in days to come.
Perhaps Bhubaneswar time arrived to deliver be it become Singapore or Amsterdam or not but let the parents of this heritage city don’t snatch away its own identity as Temple City. Happy Birth Day Modern Bhubaneswar you are now Seventy still very much a Youth to script an inspiring Urbanisation story of India.