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Indian cities envision sustainable mobility

To discuss the cause of atmospheric pollution and congestion in urban area, the four-day long Urban Mobility India Conference and Expo took place in Gandhinagar, Gujarat from November 8, 2016 to November 12, 2016. After eight UMI conferences held in Delhi since 2008, this was the first time UMI conference took place outside Delhi. About 2500 delegates from India and 25 from foreign countries participated in the conference and discussed various aspects of the theme ‘Planning Mobility for City’s Sustainability’

 

Gandhinagar: Minister of Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information & Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the Urban Mobility India conference in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

The Conference aimed at enhancing the knowledge of state and city governments on various aspects of low carbon climate friendly urban transport and the other issues discussed were: improving city bus service, financing metro systems, multi-modal Transport solutions, Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) for smart mobility, road safety, smart urban mobility planning, ensuring access for common man to urban transport, smart mobility solutions in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, etc.

After inaugurating the conference Naidu spoke on the inadequate & inefficient public transport infrastructure. He said that the new initiatives under consideration include Green Urban Transport Scheme, new Metro Rail Policy, revision of Metro Acts and Standardisation and Indigenisation of Metro systems, aimed at increased private sector participation.

The Minister informed that the Green Urban Transport Scheme seeks to encourage growth of urban transport along low Carbon path for substantial and measurable reduction in pollution, provide a permanent and sustainable framework for funding urban mobility projects at National, State and City level with minimum recourse to budgetary support by encouraging innovative financing of projects. Under this Scheme, provision of Non-motorised Transport infrastructure, increasing access to public transport, use of clean technologies, adoption of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and private sector participation in urban transport projects will be increased. He said, this scheme is being considered for for implementation in cities each with a population of five lakhs and above and all capital cities, Central assistance of about Rs.25,000 crore is estimated to be required which would in turn trigger private investments to meet the resource needs, over the next five years.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy Chief Minister Nitini Patel, Minister of State for urban Development Shankar Chaudhari and Minister of State for Urban Housing Vallabh Vaghasiya also attended the inaugural session. Rupani addressed the gathering by highlighting the problems, issues and programmes of the urban transport in Gujarat which are in line with the national perspective. Gujarat being the highly urbanised State, has taken up urban transport programmes on large scale to strengthen and upgrade the transport infrastructure in cities. A Keynote Address was delivered by Chang Woon Lee, President Korea Transport Institute (KOTI) highlighting the latest innovations in terms of ICT advancement and its applications in urban transport operation and management in Korea which could be considered in planning and operation of public transport system in Indian cities. Earlier in his welcome address Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, highlighted the significance of Urban Mobility India Conference. He said that the importance of this year’s theme on “Planning Mobility for City’s Sustainability” assumes greater importance when the Ministry is in midst of implementing Smart City and AMRUT programmes.

Naidu said that in view of the growing demand for metro rail systems in urban areas, a new Metro Policy would soon be unveiled to meet the demand through increased private sector participation. This Policy mandates preparation of Comprehensive Mobility Plans of cities mandatory to ensure last mile connectivity with metro stations. It also seeks to bring in more innovative models of implementation besides increased standardization and indigenization to induce competition. The Minister said new Metro policy seeks to ensure integration of metro projects with over all mobility needs in urban areas. He informed that the Central government has so far provided an assistance of over Rs 65,000 crore including sovereign debt to metro projects in different cities of the country. As of now, 325 kms of metro rail is in operation in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Jaipur. About 517 kms of metro rail projects are under execution and another 449 kms under planning stage, the Minister informed.

The Minister said that the existing two Metro Acts made in the context of Kolkata and Delhi Metros are being integrated envisaging more delegation of powers to State Governments besides promoting PPP and private initiatives. Stressing on the need for holistic planning to improve the city’s mobility, liveability and sustainability, Naidu said: “Urban transport planning shall be people centric and aim at moving people instead of moving cars. All sections of people shall be ensured access to efficient public transport through inclusive planning.”

Expressing concern over one road accident every minute and one accident death every four minutes in urban areas and half of the victims being pedestrians, cyclists and those using two wheelers, Naidu called for an affordable, comfortable, reliable and safe public transport to reduce demand for private motorized vehicles. He stressed on the need for promotion of Non-motorised transport infrastructure for encouraging walking and cycling. NMT as a viable alternative mode of mobility would be effective if there is a close relationship between work and living place, he noted and called for proper land use zoning, development control and building regulations to ensure success of public transport system in cities.

The Minister stated that under new urban sector initiatives of Smart Cities Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Non-Motorised Transport is being encouraged on a large scale.

Outcomes

Expressing serious concern over growing inequity in sharing of public spaces in urban areas and declining share of public transport, all the stakeholders who attended the Conference recommended restoration of the first right of pedestrians to use road spaces besides speedy promotion of Non-Motorised Transport infrastructure like footpaths, walkways and cycle ways.Rejecting the myth that people don’t like to travel by bus, the Conference called for provision of efficient and comfortable bus services including inter-city services connecting satellite towns.

Expressing concern over only a few cities having formulated Comprehensive Mobility Plans, the Conference suggested mandatory preparation of CMPs to ensure optimal use of all modes of transport based on people’s choices and city needs. Financing of metro projects may be considered only after comprehensive evaluation of other alternatives and metro fares need to be revised every year. Metro projects need to be looked at urban transformation projects rather than merely as transport interventions, given the impact of metros on socio-economic transformation of urban landscape.

Effective Multi Modal Integration has been called for to incentivize people to shift to public transport including regulation of Intermediate Public Transport systems like e-rickshaws. Further to Paris Agreement on Climate Change, city mobility plans need to promote environment friendly transport solutions like walking and cycling, electric and hybrid vehicles, use of clean fuels including bio-fuels. Stating that there is a vast potential for private investment in urban mobility projects, the Conference underscored the need to create an enabling environment for more effective use of PPP (Public Private Partnership) as a tool of resource mobilization by enabling risk sharing as against the present scenario of only the private investor bearing all risks. Taking serious note of chaotic mobility scenario in large cities, the Conference has strongly advocated attention to be focused on transport issues in small and medium cities so as to prevent the situation from getting out of hand as they expand. Rao Inderjit Singh announced that the 10th UMI Conference and Expo will be held in Hyderabad during 4-6, November 2017.

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