Smart cities will call for new standards of passenger transportation and mobility, say ERIC LABARTETTE and APURBA DHAR.
With our global experiences and local credentials of Mumbai Metro Rail, Line One - as an operator - we are committed to strengthening our local footprint for the highly demanding and growing mobility sector in India.
New cities needed
The other inevitable fact is the massive stride of migration from rural to urban areas across the globe. By 2050, about 70 per cent of the population will be living in cities, and India is no exception (the population in Indian cities will touch 843 million in 2050). The country will need around 500 new cities to accommodate the influx. The announcement of flagship programmes such as Smart Cities, Make in India, Digital India and Clean India falls in line with this mission. Especially in the transport space, extensive programmes are included in this mission, with the provision of comprehensive, integrated and smart means of transport.
The categorical inclusion of medium and small-sized cities (in the list of proposed smart cities), which appear to be less well-equipped in terms of critical mass, resources and organising capacity and have to cope with competition from larger metropolises on corresponding issues, shows the commitment of homogeneous growth across India.
Smart and sustainable
Another imperative point is that the smart cities must be completely aligned with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or Global Goals as they have now been named. These are a set of global development targets adopted by governments around the world. ´The closer the integration of sustainability into India's 100 Smart Cities initiative, the greater will be the linkages with the SDGs,´ PwC said in a report Making Cities Smart and Sustainable. The report also said, ´the government's smart city initiative has specified several possible funding sources, both conventional as well as innovative, in order to meet the Rs 7.5 trillion amount required over the next two decades. Besides central and state funding, the list includes possible funding from multilateral and bilateral development agencies, pooled municipal debt obligation facilities, municipal bonds, real estate investment trusts and infrastructure investment trusts.´
An enabling environment
The government also stands ready to create a facilitating environment for private investment and FDIs with initiatives such as the establishment of the Cabinet Committee on Investment and Project Monitoring Group to expedite the clearance of key mega infrastructure projects, enactment of new legislation for land acquisition, relaxation of external commercial borrowing norms for infrastructure finance companies and felicitation of infrastructure debt funds to address the long-term financing problems of the sector. Further, resolving challenges like complexities at the policymaking level, problems in land acquisition, absence of single-window clearance of projects, inadequate funding and lack of international practices of procurements will go a long way in smoothening the road ahead.
The present preparatory period may give an illusion of a slow growth trajectory, but the shift of the economy from the past macro-level crisis with huge current account deficit, double-digit inflation, poor growth, and a plunging rupee to currently being the fastest growing economy in the world at 7.5 per cent - surpassing China - have been recognised by OECD, the World Bank, the IMF and several rating agencies.
Setting standards for mobility
Being leaders in urban development and mobility, we are participating in initiatives to identify cities in regions around the world that are facing major urban development challenges. The goal is to support their transition towards a smarter, more sustainable future through new models of urban development and innovation. We have a clear ambition: To set the standard for passenger transportation and sustainable mobility. It means listening and responding to the needs of our clients and our passengers, to make life´s journey simpler, easier and seamless. It means providing innovative and secure mobility solutions, blending public and private interest - solutions for efficient and integrated transport systems, connecting people with their communities and regions, while meeting their specific needs. This is our commitment: To be a trusted partner for our clients, focused on the needs of each passenger.
About the authors:
(Top left) Eric Labartette, Managing Director, RATP Dev Transdev India Pvt Ltd, is also Managing Director of Mumbai Metro One Operation Pvt Ltd. Since 2012, he put his competencies at disposition of the international public transport market. (Top right) Apurba Dhar, Director Business Development, RATP Dev Transdev India Pvt Ltd, is a results-oriented, high-energy professional, with 27 years of experience and successful records of accomplishments.