Among the first planned cities of post-independence India, and the only Indian city to be ranked among the world’s best performing Smart Cities by British marketing agency Juniper Research, the ‘Temple City’ of Bhubaneswar is aiming for global glory as it hosts the Hockey World Cup from 28 November to 16 December this year.
The top-ranked city in India’s Smart City Challenge in 2016, Bhubaneswar hopes to leverage the world cup to complement its ongoing endeavour to catapult itself into India’s top smart cities over the next few years. The citizen-led Bhubaneswar Smart City Proposal had also put it into the international league as it bagged the award for planning excellence merit 2016 from the Canadian Institute of Planners. Bhubaneswar has already initiated its transformational journey to use modern technologies for the efficient delivery of services to citizens and visitors alike. It also aims to become the first child-friendly city in India – a place where all children can study, play and live in a safe and inviting environment.
The smart interventions implemented in several public parks and open spaces with facilities such as open air gym facilities, roller skating rinks, basketball courts, acupressure walkways, wifi hotspots have made these places bustling activity zones for people spanning all age groups. An adaptive traffic signal control system has proved to be a boon for safe and coordinated traffic movement in the city, while the upcoming Public Bicycle Sharing System, dedicated bicycle paths and planned revitalization of the public transport system with an additional 200 new buses are all set to transform the transportation facilities in the city.
The only Indian city to win the prestigious American Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Award, Bhubaneswar has integrated sports well within its objectives by creating world-class sports infrastructure and playing host to several major international sporting events including the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships 2017, Hockey World League Finals 2018 and the Hero Super Cup 2018.
The city’s rendezvous with multinational mega sports events first kicked off when it played host to the FIH Champions Trophy in 2014. The city has acted as the home of one of the competing teams – Kalinga Lancers – since the inception of Hockey League India. A stable and supportive government, along with sports-loving citizens, has played the right notes for the city to take a leap towards transforming itself into the future sports capital of India. Meanwhile the state government has already announced its plans to develop a multi-disciplinary International Sports City called Kalinga, over 100 acres of land on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.
Moreover, Odisha, known as the cradle of hockey in India with several players from the state playing and even captaining the national men’s and women’s teams over the years, has taken the ambitious step of supporting the sport in a big way with the Government of Odisha signing in as sponsor for both Men’s and Women’s national hockey teams for the next five years starting from 2018.
The venue for the world cup, Kalinga Stadium complex is already undergoing a massive revamp, increasing the existing seat capacity of the hockey stadium from 9,000 to 16,000. The construction of two additional galleries at the north and south ends, along with two additional floors at the west stand, is slated to be completed by June as well. Among other facilities at the sprawling stadium complex, well-spaced out nine entrance gates would facilitate smooth movement of players, officials and spectators into the stadium.
The State Sports Department has also completed the reconstruction of international standard swimming pools inside the complex. Keeping with the city’s vision of ensuring universal accessibility at all places, special emphasis has been laid to provide supportive infrastructure for specially-abled people. While dedicated parking lots have been planned for buses and private vehicles, outside the stadium on major routes leading to the Kalinga Stadium, all the roads inside the complex will be widened and specific parking places are being developed for players and officials. There will also be a ‘Fan Zone’ comprising a cafeteria, food court and souvenir centre.
While Bhubaneswar is getting ready for launching city-wide wifi service as part of smart city proposal implementation, the entire stadium will boast a robust wifi network coverage, enabling fans to stay connected during the Hockey World Cup. With all these initiatives, Bhubaneswar takes the big leap onto the global stage, playing the perfect host to the mega sporting event of Hockey World Cup 2018 showcasing its best to the world.