Cities of the future

What do citizens wish for? One gets to one’s workplace riding the metro in 20 minutes. Pay-and-use bicycles or electric scooters provide the first and last mile connectivity. 90 per cent of all waste in one’s neighbourhood is recycled and turned into new material or upcycled. One gets uninterrupted water supply at home for drinking and other uses separately, at reasonable, fair cost. 95 per cent of the time, the air quality in the city is within prescribed limits. These could be on the wish lists of citizens as a new year dawns upon us and we look with hope towards more efficient, equitable and sustainable cities.
While the challenges facing policymakers and urban planners are complex and stubborn, there is hope that these will be overcome and there will be steady progress towards creating more livable cities. This confidence stems from the focus of governments at national and sub-national levels on the urban landscape and attempts to improve the lot of the common man.
Innovation could become a valuable tool for administrators in the journey towards a better urban future.
Challenges in the areas of urban mobility, waste management, housing and service delivery are particularly stubborn and will test the ingenuity of our policymakers. Housing is a high priority to address the needs of large sections of the population including the rural-urban migrants. Here the PMAY – Housing for All seeks to address the challenge. However, the scheme could consider a rental model where needy persons will be eligible for renting homes, possibly with option to buy later. With this, people can move to different locations to access better livelihood options as well as seek out better/higher education for children.
As regards urban mobility the focus will remain on popularising public transport. While introduction of metro bodes well for many of our cities, the city bus could remain the mainstay of affordable urban mass mobility (in Mumbai, the suburban train too). ULBs could look to transforming the reliability and effectiveness of bus services by involving private entrepreneurs to operate a fleet under the ULB banner. Such Air-conditioned services have become popular in some cities taking load off the streets and adding to sustainability. And above all, innovative measures are required to make mass public transport very affordable – cheaper than a motorcycle ride.
Promoting jobs and livelihoods will be an important part of the policy architecture of governments. While states try to attract industry through attractive taxation regimes, more needs to be done. Local governments could look at making their cities and towns attractive living destinations thus acting as magnets for attracting talent. Efficient public transport connecting the city with industrial hubs, and affordable, accessible housing could help attract investment and create jobs. Reliable power and water services could greatly help too.
In all their efforts to improve livability, ULBs will have to use citizen engagement, technology, and innovation in big measure. We need to do different things and do things differently to build cities of the future.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.