HUBBALLI: The expanding urban centres face a host of problems like mobility, loss of green cover, congestion and other civic issues. And Bengaluru recently earned the dubious distinction of the world’s most traffic-congested city.
Policymakers should think proactively and solve the mobility challenge. This piece of advice has come from none other than Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu.
While stressing that urbanisation is a reality which can no longer be ignored, he also sounded a word of caution: Reactive policy-making can lead to congestion, pollution and tension.
It is expected that the population of urban dwellers is likely to reach 68% by 2050. In order to keep up with the enormous growth, infrastructure development needs to start now, Naidu stressed.
The Vice President, who formally inaugurated the Hubballi-Dharwad BRTS, the first dedicated bus corridor of South India, here on Sunday, also pointed out that rapid urbanisation brings with it a set of challenges which have to be addressed in a holistic manner by urban planners.
“This development needs to be sustainable to ensure that it does not adversely affect the environment and human health, especially that of our children. Development must not be at the cost of quality of life,” Venkaiah Naidu said.
“The current issues faced by almost all urban centres in India include poor quality of air, insufficient supply of potable water, poor sanitation, insufficient solid waste management facilities and limited public transport infrastructure,” Vice President Naidu underscored.
Strongly advocating the need for a proactive model of urbanisation, rather than a reactive one, he noted, “Reactive urbanisation results in congestion, urban sprawl, low density suburbanisation and slum formation that substantially increases the cost of delivering infrastructure and leads to a dip in the quality of life.”
Though urban development is a state subject, governments can no longer afford to work in silos as it requires coordinated and consistent efforts from all stakeholders, he said.
“The states are encouraged to develop their own robust urban policies, including plans for implementation, based on a national framework. Collaboration between the State Governments and the Union Government is essential for sustainable urban development and so is a strong public-private partnership,” he added.
‘Behavioural change is a must’
Stating that simply building infrastructure is also not enough, Naidu said there must be a behavioural change among urban dwellers to shift to mass transportation rather than using private vehicles.
“In addition to constructing roads scientifically, awareness should be spread about road safety, especially among youngsters in schools and colleges. We must develop a culture of disciplined driving and following lanes to minimise congestion and avoid accidents,” he stressed.
Terming cities as growth engines and the drivers of prosperity, the Vice President said their balanced growth depends much on access to economic opportunities to all.
But the accessibility to such opportunities depends upon how efficient, comfortable, convenient, safe, fast and affordable urban mass transportation systems are.
Naidu asked urban local bodies to focus more on the creation of new assets rather than the maintenance of the existing ones and the replacement of damaged ones.
“We must utilise the available resources more judiciously and diligently so that both the tasks of asset building and asset maintenance/replacement go hand in hand,” he added.
Another flight on sector
Union Minister Pralhad Joshi urged the state authorities to consider running electric buses on the dedicated BRTS corridor as the Union Government has given a big push with its e-vehicle policy.
He also said the budget carrier TruJet has agreed to fly flights on the Hubballi-Bengaluru section shortly.
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