After becoming an independent sovereign nation in 1947, India has progressed at a constant and a swift pace. According to UN World Urbanisation Prospects Report 2018, India is urbanising at a rapid rate with over 34% of India’s population living in urban areas.
Time and again, the leaders and thinkers have been pressing on Smart Urbanisation which involves effective integration of digital, physical and human systems in the built environment to deliver sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for its citizens.
With the selection of over 100 cities for Smart Cities Mission and many other initiatives from the government, the process of urbanisation has catalysed leading to rapid growth in urban sector.
The Urbanisation and issues related with it are addressed and handled by the Ministry of Urban Affairs.
Nurturing Neighbourhood Challenge
· The Ministry of Urban Affairs launched this challenge as a three-year initiative to support cities to develop, pilot and scale sustainable solutions to enhance quality of life of young children, their caretakers and families.
· This initiative will be available for all the smart cities and other cities with more than 5,00,000 population and capitals of state and union territories.
· Under the initiative, the cities will receive technical assistance in various works related to making the surroundings children friendly. The activities will include re-imagination of parks, revamp of open public spaces for children, easy access to early childhood facilities like breastfeeding rooms, roadside amenities for children and creation of streets suitable for children to walk.
Data Maturity Assessment Framework Cycle 2
· In order to properly assess the progress and objectives, Data plays a significant role as a resource. Understanding these reasons, the government designed this framework to create a culture of data collection and analysis.
· Under this framework, the cities will be enabled to assess their own their own data maturity with respect to a standardised framework covering aspects of enabling policies, governance structures, data management, capacity building, and stakeholder engagement at the city level.
· Data Maturity is the extent up to which an entity or an organisation utilizes the data it produces. In, India, the data maturity is being handled under Digital India Campaign which ensures facilitation of government services to citizens in an effective and convenient way.
· The prime benefit of having data maturity information is that it enables organisation to democratize data culture for open innovation, collaboration and research.
· Online Training Programme for City Data Officers: This program has been formulated especially for imparting data collection, analysis and visualization techniques to City Data officers for effective collection of data and maximization of Data Maturity.
Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF)
· The Ministry of Urban Affairs launched this framework along with ‘Streets for People Challenge’ under the Smart Cities Mission with an aim to provide clear roadmap for cities towards combating climate change while planning and implementing their actions, including investments.
· This framework has been designed to inculcate climate-sensitive approach to urban planning and development in India.
India Cycles4Change Challenge
· This initiative has also been launched by Ministry of Urban Affairs under the umbrella of Smart Cities Initiative in order to inspire and support Indian cities to quickly implement cycling friendly initiatives in response to COVID-19 Pandemic.
· 107 Indian cities have been registered for the challenge and are now working with their citizens and experts to develop low cost interventions like pop-up lanes, traffic calmed streets, community cycle rental schemes and cycle-training programs.
· The Government has conceptualized the idea of a mass rapid transit system providing low cost, energy efficient and eco-friendly urban transport solutions for Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. The concept has been named Metro Neo.
Features of the Metro Neo
1. The Metro Neo will be lighter, smaller and will cost 25% of the conventional metro systems currently in use in India. They will even be cheaper than ‘Metrolite’ which costs about 40% of present metro systems.
3. The Metro Neo is most suitable for areas where there is high demand of around 8000 passengers one way in peak time.
4. The Metro Neo has already been cleared as Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) by the Maharashtra Government for the city of Nashik.
· Conceptualized by the founder of ‘Tesla’ and current richest man in the world, Elon Musk, Hyperloop System is a mode of transport where a pod like vehicle is made to propel inside a near-vacuum tube mostly for inter-city travel with speeds matching to that of an aircraft.
· The Maharashtra Government, in 2018, signed an agreement with Virgin Group to build a Hyperloop between Mumbai and Pune.
· Virgin announced a partnership with Bangalore International Airports (BIAL) to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed Hyperloop project starting from Bengaluru Airport recently.
· Virgin has also signed MoU with Punjab’s transport as its exploring the opportunities in Northern part of the country.
· In November 2020, Virgin, for the first time, conducted successful human testing in Hyperloop where Tanay Manjrekar, a native of Pune and a Power Electronics Expert with Virgin Hyperloop became the first Indian to travel in a Hyperloop.
· Pod Taxi, also known as Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), is a driverless car (pod-like) service which can hold two to six passengers and can run at a pre-determined path at 80-130 kmph.
· In 2017, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) called an Expression of Interest (EOI) for launching a Pod Taxi service from Dhaula Kuan, Delhi to Manesar in Haryana.