Transportation plays a crucial role in the urban development of a country, but it also has a significant environmental impact. In recent years, several initiatives have been taken by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to improve urban mobility while focusing on sustainability. One such initiative is the Indo-German Green Urban Mobility Partnership (GUMP), which is driving the implementation and success of sustainable urban mobility projects in India. The GUMP focuses on improving access to public transport and integrated urban mobility services by providing state-of-the-art green infrastructure, and building the capacity of organisations and individuals to implement such projects. At a recent industry conference, Manoj Joshi, secretary, MoHUA, shared his views on India’s move towards sustainable transport infrastructure to meet international climate goals. Edited excerpts…
India aims to reduce its total carbon emissions by about 1 billion tonnes by 2030 and achieve the target of net zero emissions by 2070. To this end, various policies and programmes, such as PM Gati Shakti, the National Master Plan for multimodal connectivity, the Smart Cities Mission, the Metro Policy and National Transit Oriented Development Policy, and the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles I and II scheme, have been launched to give an impetus to the development of green mobility infrastructure.
India is making concerted efforts to meet its COP26 commitments by increasing the share of renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, and Adopting sustainable technologies and climate-resilient solutions. Urban missions launched by the government, such as the Swachh Bharat mission, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, the Smart Cities Mission, and Urban Transport and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, have contributed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is vital to provide attractive and affordable public transport and active mobility alternatives to induce a modal shift that will limit carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector.
MoHUA has been actively engaged in encouraging and supporting cities to adopt new and innovative low-carbon solutions. The ministry is also promoting an integrated approach to urban mobility planning in all partner cities. The idea is to realise synergies and mobility plans that integrate socio-economic perspectives with carbon emission/air pollution reduction measures, thus bringing climate mitigation gains at the local scale while also improving sustainable mobility options for the local population.
Focus on GUMP
India and Germany had declared the joint commitment to cooperate in the sector more intensively while establishing a bilateral green urban mobility partnership as a strategic framework in 2019. GUMP focuses on improving access to public transport and integrate urban mobility services by providing state-of-the-art green infrastructure and build the capacity of organisations and individuals to implement such projects. GUMP is contributing towards building climate-relevant and future-oriented infrastructure to attain national and international climate change mitigation targets.
The Indian government is following the avoid-shift-improve (ASI) approach in urban transport and mobility infrastructure projects. This includes avoiding travel demand by aligning infrastructure with transit-oriented development, shifting travel from individual motorised transport to public transport and active mobility, and improving the existing infrastructure by making it more energy efficient and less carbon intensive.
In Tamil Nadu, the climate-friendly modernisation of bus services aims to cater to an additional 0.6 million passengers, resulting in savings of up to 2,900 tonnes of carbon dioxide each day. In light of this objective, aged diesel buses will be replaced with modern, more efficient, energy efficient models using Bharat Standards-VI. An additional 500 electric buses are planned to be introduced. Kochi has implemented a modern, sustainable and integrated water transportation system. The service covers 15 routes connecting 38 jetties across 10 islands. The ferries will be able to cater to 80,000 rides a day by integrating them with the Kochi metro rail through a user-friendly ticketing system, and providing last-mile connectivity options.
Green transport infrastructure does not pertain exclusively to large-scale rail systems or bus fleets; it also includes seemingly small interventions such as a safe pedestrian walkway, or a sound cycling track. Green transport infrastructure is not only a pivotal part of achieving the climate change mitigation targets, but also of achieving sustainable development in the long term. GUMP has made significant contributions to both objectives across different levels and fields in the sector.