Nearly a year after India’s climate change plan was revealed, Indian cities are waking up to incorporating climate change action into their policies. The capital, Delhi, has recently unveiled its own climate change action plan that incorporates six out of eight of the nation’s CC missions. Parts of this initiative are a number of transport related projects. Delhi plans to convert 10,000 of the city’s buses to CNG (compressed natural gas) and create a public transport fund that would be funded partly through revenues from tax. Delhi already has an Air Ambience Fund that is funded by a fee on diesel. Another project is introducing a congestion charge much like the one London has in place.
In the past, Delhi has succeeded to a fair extent at incorporating environmental action into their transport and developmental projects. The Delhi Metro earned praise for being environmentally friendly but other cities haven’t fared as well. The Bangalore City Metro has turned into a full blown confrontation between citizens and environmentalists who decry the excessive felling of trees versus the metro bureaucrats at the other end.
Nevertheless, some other cities are encouraging environmental programs. Pune, in the west of the country has launched a 10,000,000 Rupee (1 Crore) environmental awareness scheme and the JNNURM scheme is funding (among other urban revival and environmental projects all over the country) waste management projects in Kanpur.
Apart from the large metropoles, it’s clear that environmental initiatives need to move towards the smaller cities as well. These are cities that are rapidly growing and developing and urgently need to integrate environmentalism into their plans before its too late. It is here that environmentalism has to filter down beyond the large cities to the smaller, regional urban conglomerations. It’s here that illegal mining causes damage, its in the smaller states far from the country’s economic or political hubs that the effects of climate change are perhaps being silently felt. The Financial Times recently examined the impact of the Tata Nano on the Indian market. It turns out that in order for the car to succeed, it will have to target the smaller towns (“tier II and tier III towns”). The article points out that “By bringing down the cost of ownership to less than three times that of a two-wheeler, it captures the aspirational, but cost sensitive market in tier II and III towns.” But there’s hope, environmentalism is slowly becoming part of the developmental agenda. Surat, a town in Gujarat is creating a green construction code which the municipality hopes will encourage more green buildings. And as part of the Sustainable Urban Transport Project, people in smaller fast developing towns are getting together to debate the environmental benefits or hazards of developmental projects in their area.