Making the Right Decisions for Sustainable Growth in Bengaluru
Hon’able Minister K. J. George, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Jamshyd Godrej, Madhav Pai, Aniruddha Dasgupta and V Ravichandar lead discourse at the Unlock Bengaluru (#UnlockBLR) conference in the city of Bengaluru on 9 July 2016. WRI India started participating in the Bengaluru dialogue in 2007, when Chief Secretary Mr. P.B. Mahishi invited WRI India’s EMBARQ experts to review the Comprehensive Traffic and Transport Plan. In 2017, WRI India, through its Sustainable Cities programme will celebrate 10 years of its work in India with Bengaluru being the first city and also the focus city.
K. J. George, Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town Planning, outlined the government’s commitment to working with organizations like WRI India to develop a dialogue on sustainable development in the city.
Highlighting some of the upcoming projects in Bengaluru, he said, “It is my great privilege to participate in Unlock Bengaluru and talk about the problems in the city. One of the key issues we are facing is managing congestion. The population in Bengaluru is currently 12 million with 60-65 lac vehicles. This means, we need to take long-term steps to resolve the problem. The second phase of the metro will start soon and we hope to complete this by 2020. We are also working towards improving the connectivity from the city center to the Bengaluru International Airport.”
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon Limited, extended her support to WRI India’s urban transport projects, “Rio de Janerio solved the mobility challenge during the Olympics with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and not metro. 160 kilometers of BRT ferries 1.3 million people at one-tenth of the cost n one-fifth of the time as 16 kilometers of metro. BRT is definitely a lower cost, powerful solution.”
Jamshyd Godrej, Indian industrialist, member of the Godrej family and Chairman of WRI India, who was on the opening panel of Unlock Bengaluru, highlighted WRI India’s work, supported by Caterpillar Foundation. He said, “Personally, I have really enjoyed hearing about WRI’s contribution to improving public transport in Bengaluru, working closely with BMTC and the support to renewable energy projects at Infosys, Coca Cola and the Bengaluru airport through the green power market development group.”
This went into a session by Adriana Lobo, WRI Mexico Director and Toni Lindau, WRI Brazil Sustainable Cities Director who shared case studies on sustainable transport, mainly the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System from Mexico City and Rio de Janerio. Various factors like road safety, accessibility, congestion, urban sprawl and broadening sidewalks were taken into consideration.
Aniruddha Dasgupta, Global Director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities touched upon the potential of transformative change that cities like Bengaluru have. He said, “Most decisions are based on how cities are structured, these decisions have a very high lock-in effect. There are multiple problems that need to be fixed in cities like Bengaluru, making transformative change a very critical part of the development process.”
In conclusion, Madhav Pai, India Director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, said, “Bangalore needs to sustain its economic growth and improve quality of life for its citizens to maintain its appeal for investors and talent. In its attempt to address congestion, limit sprawl and improve efficiency, Bangalore has to now make key decisions on land-use, infrastructure, transport and energy.”
Through this one-day conference, WRI India Sustainable Cities hopes to engage in conversation around the issues related to public transport, urban expansion, clean energy, climate change and new mobility in Bengaluru.