Pune, Coimbatore and Chennai have been making huge progress creating sustainable cities. Each has made great strides in recent years, laying the groundwork for even bigger changes to come. Thanks to their demonstrated successes and well-developed plans for next steps, all three have been selected for the first round of India’s national Smart Cities Mission.
Right now, experts estimate that about 25-30 people migrate every minute to major Indian cities in search of better livelihood and better lifestyles. It is predicted that by 2050, Indian cities will house nearly 843 million people. This massive increase in population will put incredible pressure on India’s cities, requiring new infrastructure for transportation, energy, and safety. To address these imminent issues, the Government of India has established the Smart Cities Mission, a program directing 15 billion USD, split between national and local government, to helping cities invest in sustainable infrastructure and growth. Pune, Coimbatore and Chennai, all cities ITDP has helped set on a more sustainable course, have each been selected for the first round of participation in the program, allowing them to fund new projects for a sustainable future.
As part of the Smart Cities Mission, each of these three cities have proposed to invest over 88 million USD (600 Crore rupees) in sustainable transport projects. By pegging this money to tangible, area-based improvements, the cities have a clear plan to transform over the next 5 years, bringing widespread socio-economic benefits to a large section of society. ITDP is proud to have partnered with Pune, Coimbatore, and Chennai to chart out their sustainable paths for the future.
The Smart Cities Mission will eventually support 100 cities. Twenty cities were recently selected to participate in the first year of the program.
ITDP has been working with Pune, Coimbatore, and Chennai in different roles, providing technical support to projects, capacity building for officials, and creating community engagement at various levels. In the twin cities of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, ITDP helped implement the Rainbow BRT, incorporating best practices in BRT planning and design. ITDP has been instrumental in helping Chennai adopt a Non-Motorized Transport Policy and overseeing its implementation through street design and engaging with citizens through initiatives like car-free Sundays. In Coimbatore, the Namma Kovai Namakke (Our Coimbatore Ourselves) campaign, initiated by ITDP, sparked citizen demand for better pedestrian facilities, all of which formed the groundwork for the Smart City proposals developed by these cities.
In the next 5 years, Pune aims to increase the mode share of public transport from 18 percent to 50 percent by augmenting its bus fleet and improving bus services using Intelligent Traffic Management Systems (ITMS). The city also aims to expand its high quality BRT network by 30 km and improve access to transit by creating 75 km network of footpaths and cycle tracks.
In keeping with its NMT policy, Chennai aims to develop ‘Complete Streets’ and build footpaths to cover 80% of its major roads. A city-wide cycle sharing system with 3000 cycles and an IT-based parking management system are also expected to give a major thrust to walking and cycling while restricting private vehicle use.
Non-motorized transport is a key focus for Coimbatore as well, where the city aims to create NMT infrastructure along 75 percent of its primary and secondary road networks before 2020. A 30 km network of greenways connecting major lakes in the city is expected to improve quality of open space for its residents. The city also aims to increase mode share of public transport from 42 percent to 60 percent by modernizing and expanding public bus services.
Congratulations to these cities, and all the selected Smart Cities, for the exciting work preparing India’s cities for a more sustainable future.