HYDERABAD: The much-awaited XI Metropolis World Congress, organised by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation in coordination with the Telangana state government, commenced here on Monday.
While the media was kept away from the event, GHMC commissioner Somesh Kumar later briefed newsmen about the day’s proceedings at the event. He said that “Day Zero of the XI Metropolis World Congress saw 857 register for the conference, including 135 people from abroad . He added that the event with the theme ‘Cities for All’, had five technical sessions on Voices of the Children, Empowering Youth, Habitat in Urban India, Housing For All and Metropolis ‘Hackathon’.
Kumar said, “We had a session titled ‘Voices of Children’ where we sought the opinions of children from across the country, who articulately described the problems in their citites/towns, including the need for improvement of housing, public toilets, better sanitation and waste management in slum areas, among others.”
According to the GHMC commissioner, children from across the country, including Maharashtra, Orissa and Delhi were present. “To get an insight into children’s thinking is very rare in conferences like these.
The children also brought to our notice the presence of electrical poles which hang dangerously as also the dirty condition of most of the transformers,” he added.
The GHMC Commissioner listed out some of the suggestions made by the youth on why it was essential to involve them in policy-making and decision-making. He further said: “We discussed the importance of providing affordable housing to everyone. Everybody present unanimously agreed that the participation of the private sector is a must to improve the quality of housing, ” he added.
Meanwhile, the international specialists on urban planning who attended the Metropolis Hackathon, were highly impressed with the participation from the youth of the City in the conference. Speaking to the newsmen after the event, Alfonso Govela, architect and founder of Mex Smart Cities, Alain Renk, architect and city planner from France, Tim Campbell, an independent observer and a holder of Phd in urban studies from MIT, Philip Weist, entrepreneur and author, and Subromonium Sarma, senior director of Indian School of Business, gave an insight into what transpired during the Metropolis Hackathon.
“At the hackathon, we asked the youth of Hyderabad to come and give us ideas using technology on how to make it a better city. We had 360 team entries, from which 20 have been chosen,” informed Sarma.
Alfonso Govela, who hails from France, said: “ I’m very glad to see plenty of vibrant ideas from the youth of Hyderabad. Out of the 20 teams, five will be chosen as winners and they shall work together with the government of Telangana, Microsoft and Indian School of Business to implement their ideas. These ideas can be used not just in Hyderabad, but across the world,” he said.
Impressed by the enthusiastic participation of children and youth during the event Tim Campbell said, Hyderabad city held a bright future.
The print and electronic media were denied access to the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC), where the XI Metropolis World Congress was taking place. They were instead provided with a media centre in the administrative building with a promise that live footage will be shown on screen. However, much to the dismay of the journalists present, the footage was not shown the entire day and the mediamen were totally unaware of what actually transpired at the event. It all started when the Public Relations group for the event Perfect Relations was replaced by Information & Public Relations (I&PR) at the last moment - i.e., late on Sunday evening by the government for inexplicable reasons. The mediamen were subsequently informed that they could not enter the premises and must instead stay put in the media centre and await press briefing from the officials. RV Chandravadan, Commissioner, I &PR, explained that there were very ‘specific’ reasons for this decision.