‘Towards making our cities smarter, cleaner and climate resilient’
One of the most pressing discussion points at the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 Climate Summit, here in Paris, is the infrastructure deficit that young nations like India still face, owing to the pressures of urbanisation of populations, growing industrialisation and the imperative of economic growth.
Cities are growth-engines for the economy, and India expects to house 40% of its population in its urban centres by 2030. Indian cities, like all great urban hubs in the world, will have to focus on providing modern amenities and public infrastructure for growing numbers of urban dwellers. These span creating housing and advanced transport networks, to mitigating pollution levels and creating a healthy environment for urban citizens.
The Government of India has recognized the challenge that it faces today, and has been proactive in identifying and setting in motion the process of transformation and rejuvenation of urban areas. With the launch of landmark policy initiatives like the Smart Cities Mission, the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and the National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY), the government is actively focusing on bettering the quality of life in its urban areas, through the creating a cleaner and sustainable ecosystem.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India has laid out the vision and roadmap of urban rejuvenation, announcing a bold plan to create 100 smart cities across the country. These cities will provide core infrastructure and a decent quality of life to its citizens by building a clean and sustainable environment.
More importantly, the government has also put in place plans for making these smart cities climate resilient, with the incorporation of smart solutions like recycling and reuse of waste, use of renewables, and protection of sensitive natural environment. Another notable policy initiative undertaken is Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), a new urban renewal mission has been launched by Government of India for 500 cities with focus on ensuring basic infrastructure services such as water supply, sewerage, storm water drains, transport and development of green spaces and parks by adopting climate resilient and energy efficient policies and regulations.
Cities are also under the purview of the one-of-its kind ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ (Clean India Mission) with the objective of making the country clean and litter free with scientific solid waste management in about 4041 towns covering a population of 306 million. It aims to construct 10.4 million individual household toilets and 0.5 million community and public toilets.
The Government has also introduced urban transport policies which focus on moving ‘people’ rather than ‘vehicles’, in which mass-transit and urban transport projects have been initiated under the National Urban Renewal Mission. These have positive climate change impacts in the long-run. About 39 urban transport and mass rapid transport projects have been approved and about 19 projects have been completed so far.
Indian cities will therefore become more efficient, with its citizens enjoying access to modern public transport and efficient public utilities. This will enable them to enjoy increasingly better amenities while at the same time, through a range of measures, reducing the intensity of impact of this development on the environment.
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