In line with the 2030 Agenda, the Indian government has launched numerous urban development initiatives, which Germany is supporting, such as the “Smart Cities Mission”, “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan”, “AMRUT” and “Clean Ganga”. This is welcome news considering Germany is an expert in environment-friendly urban planning. There is so much that can be done and needs to be done: more sewage can be treated so it doesn’t kill our rivers; high-speed trains with all the bells and whistles in place can replace fuel-guzzling and fume-spewing cars; our buildings can be made more energy-efficient. And the list goes on!
In 2016, sustainable urban development was made a priority area of Indo-German cooperation. Germany has committed financial and technical assistance worth €1 billion between 2017 and 2022. Its main objective is to work together with the Indian government to facilitate inclusive growth, reduce poverty and protect the environment. The focus is on improving sanitation; managing sewage and waste in houses and factories; advising on urban planning; and encouraging climate-friendly urban transportation.
In support of the “Smart Cities Mission”, Germany has partnered with three cities—Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Coimbatore—to provide sustainable urban public transportation. The total funding already exceeds €870 million. In Kochi, €85 million was provided to finance a cleaner and more efficient water transport system. The result: 20 percent less fuel is being consumed by the new ferries. The goal is to ensure that people can travel from one place to another using a seamless network of ferries, metro, e-buses, rickshaws and bicycles. A nice way to up mobility while reducing pollution!
The River Ganga is home to more than half of the country’s population and is an important source of livelihood. It is revered as a mother, but it also happens to be one of the most polluted rivers in the world. The Indian government came out with the “Namami Gange Programme”, an ambitious initiative to clean the Ganga, which has Germany’s full support. Between 2016 and 2020, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB) will provide technical expertise for cleaning up the River Ganga, starting with Uttarakhand. In addition, the KfW Development Bank, in close cooperation with the World Bank, will provide around €121 million on behalf of the German government for a sewage network.