Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Massive funds in the pipeline for urban transport

Massive funds in the pipeline for urban transport

Staff Reporter
A demonstration project on capacity building to be taken up next month
It will be done under the National Sustainable Habitat Mission to be approved soon

The project being taken up under ‘moving train’ concept to cover more cities and towns

BANGALORE: M. Ramachandran, Secretary to Government of India, Ministry of Urban Development, on Tuesday said the Centre would undertake a demonstration project involving huge capacity building programme for urban transport in select cities from January next.

Titled World Bank – UNDP – GEF Assisted Sustainable Urban Transport Project, the proposal involves grant from Global Environment Facility and loan to States from the World Bank. More cities could join the project in future as it was being undertaken on a “moving train” concept, Mr. Ramachandran said.

He was delivering the Foundation Day Lecture on “Urban Transport in India – The Journey so far and way forward” at the Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning of the Indian Institute of Science here.

Mr. Ramachandran said: “When the National Sustainable Habitat Mission is launched after the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change approves the same, we should be able to take public transport efficiency-related initiatives in cities.” The Ministry of Urban Development had taken a number of initiatives, including the National Urban Transport Policy and launching Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) towards ensuring a comfortable urban life. Huge grants had been given to project cities for infrastructure development and later the grants were extended for procurement of urban buses too, Mr. Ramachandran said. Still, a lot was to be done and the daunting task ahead was to improve the urban transport infrastructure. The investment required for urban transport was estimated at Rs. 1,32,590 crore in the 11th Plan and about Rs. 4,35,380 crore over the next two decades, Mr. Ramachandran said.

Government budgetary support alone was insufficient to meet the requirement and innovative ways, including public-private-partnership, have to be found to fund urban transport infrastructure.

Cities and States would have to set up dedicated urban transport funds to take up urban transport initiatives to match the pace of urbanisation while each urban local body should have an urban transport cell, he said.

Big cities, he said, should have unified metropolitan transport authorities duly backed by the law and supported by a professional body.

On the other hand, awareness should be generated amongst all, including policy makers, to have a paradigm shift from focus on vehicles to focus on people. The traditional mindset of concentration on supply-side management should be changed to demand-side management. Demand management will require measures like congestion pricing, internalising the externalities of private vehicles for congestion pricing and other measures, city-specific parking policy, advertisement policy, transit oriented development and re-development. “With all these, we will be able to contribute in a large way in meeting the above objectives and filling up the gaps,” Mr. Ramachandran added.

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