On the Move (2018 | Issue 1)

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Dr. Martin Ney on Smart Cities Mission & Urban Mobility Projects

We are all on the move. Moving onwards and forwards is crucial for people and for the economy. When you think about it: Historically, from the invention of the wheel, transportation has played a starring role in the progress of mankind. Over centuries, transportation was a purely positive factor of progress. More recently, however, we had to discover the flip side of transportation and progress: The growing population has placed a tangible load on our infrastructure and limited resources. The environment has taken a big hit. So what’s the way out?

The answer has to be smart and sustainable development. We need to strike the right balance between our economic progress and limiting its impact. Cities are at the centre of this effort, because all the factors are coming together here, highlighting the issues but also generating the best solutions. Citizens want to be part of a modern world with all its opportunities, but they also want to live in healthy environments. Governments and citizens have to come together and integrate environmental concerns into urban planning. Public transport and smart mobility planning is a cornerstone of making this work. People need to be given a choice to step out of their cars and into buses, onto their cycles or walk in streets that are safe for everyone.

In India, more and more people are migrating to cities. Traffic jams, bad air quality and overburdened infrastructure are now serious challenges in city life. The Indian government and administrations are working on meeting those challenges and have been engaging in a number of urban mobility projects. Cleaner fuel, electric vehicles, metro systems and high-speed rail are being given a push.

Germany wholeheartedly supports the Indian government in implementing urban mobility projects that offer solutions based on mass rapid transit systems (metro and bus), non-motorised modes of transport (cycling and walking), integrated traffic management solutions and feeder networks for last-mile connectivity. My embassy is working closely with the Indian government to develop especially Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Coimbatore into smart cities and to ensure that an integrated transport system is put into place. Between 2017 and 2022, Germany has committed €1.6 billion towards urban development measures in India.

As global citizens we are all in the same boat. Our destinies are inseparably tied together. So let us build a healthy and sustainable future together.