State partners with Chicago varsity for urban innovation challenge

Aiming to find a sustainable solution for the city's infrastructure and ecological challenges, the state government has inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tata Centre for Development and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).

The MoU is part of the 'Urban Innovation Challenge' where residents, students, start-ups, urban experts and researchers from across the country will be asked to work on sustainable models to solve the issues.

The MoU, inked by Bengaluru Development and Town Planning Minister K J George and University of Chicago Trust executive director Aditi Mody, would award Rs 1.5 crore to the best working model for its implementation.

The innovation challenge would give top priority to models venturing to solve air pollution, traffic and solid waste management. "Bengaluru is the engine of growth for Karnataka. The city faces infrastructure problems (that need solving)," George said at the event.

Regional director for South and West Asia at C40 Sanjay Sridhar lamented the prevailing apathy among citizens in using public facilities despite the government's efforts to provide better infrastructure.

"While the civil society criticises the government, people still prefer cars over metro and TenderSURE footpaths the government create for them," he said.

Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Development Department) Mahendra Jain attributed the city's rising air pollution to the seven million vehicles traversing the city roads.

Veena Srinivasan, fellow, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, pointed out that Bengaluru's monstrous growth in the last few years had made building infrastructure more challenging. "A significant part of new Bengaluru has no water system," she said.

About 9 million people occupy the 800 sq km of the city which has expanded from 300 sq km to 800 sq km in a few years, Jain said, offering an idea of the scale of growth.

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