Going green: Sustainable Urban Transport Project launched

Going green: Sustainable Urban Transport Project launched

"This project has been inspired by the concern at the alarming rate of people switching over to use of personal vehicles for urban travel, which will inevitably result in sharp increase in greenhouse gas emissions," Minister of Urban Development S. Jaipal Reddy said while launching the project. The implementation of the Rs 1,400 crore project is in assistance with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

"Through this project, emphasis will be on the public mode of travel, bringing more buses on the roads, a stringent parking policy, designing of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors and better urban transport infrastructure so that people start using public transport more," the minister said. "Apart from traffic congestion, an increase in personal motorised vehicles has added to the pollution levels and increase in traffic accidents," he added.

The SUTP aims to train more than 1,000 professionals in urban transport to achieve this target as well as launch awareness campaigns. The five cities where different demonstration projects will be implemented are Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune in Maharashtra, Naya Raipur in Chhatisgarh, Indore in Madhya Pradesh and Mysore in Karnataka. Cities like Guwahati in Assam, Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh have also shown interest in joining in.

"SUTP has for the first time introduced a moving train concept, by which more cities can join in as the project moves on," Reddy said. The environment and forests ministry is also coordinating implementation of the project. Reddy further said that BRT corridor projects have been sanctioned in 10 cities in India including Pune, Indore and Ahmedabad.

"We have also been writing to the finance minister to exempt excise duty on buses because public mode of travel should be encouraged. The duty has been brought down from 18 percent to six percent and we are further pushing for making it nil," he said. "Right now 28 per cent of India's population resides in the urban areas, but by the year 2025, 50 per cent of the population will be in urban areas. The pressure on the environment and demand for basic facilities then will be huge and we must get prepared for it now," the minister further said.