Sustainable Cities of Tomorrow: India showcasing itself as a contributor to dealing with climate change is visible in the Union Budget 2023-24. When Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was presenting the budget on February 1st, she highlighted the Centre’s focus on transforming our cities into the ‘sustainable cities of tomorrow’. The government is serious about implementing urban planning reforms and actions to revive India’s cities by using adequate resources.
Sitharaman said that this revival would need efficient use of land resources, adequate resources for urban infrastructure, transit-oriented development, enhanced availability and affordability of urban land, and opportunities for all.
What would a sustainable city look like?
Let’s start with the obvious. A sustainable city would obviously focus on rainwater management and eradicating pollution. We say so because one of the priorities that were listed in the budget this time was India’s green growth, and for that, working on rainwater harvesting and pollution is extremely important. Sustainable cities would adopt more means of using renewable energy sources like solar power and hydro power.
However, environmental decisions are not the only decisons to take when making a city sustainable. A sustainable city is sufficient in every way. It is properly financed, fully planned, and managed much more efficiently.
Sustainable cities would require a lot of work on the ground level. For example, manual scavenging of septic, and sewer tanks will be done away with completely, and instead, mechanical desludging would be introduced to transform the condition of manholes. The budget stated that more focus will be given to the scientific management of dry and wet waste.
To make the cities ‘aatmanirbhar‘, the budget this year has listed that it would improve the credit-worthiness of these cities by incentivising them for municipal bonds. A municipal bond is a debt security issued by the local or state government that is used to finance projects like the development of roads, highways, schools, and hospitals. These bonds would help the cities in overcoming the obstacle of relying on banks and financial institutions for borrowing money. This would also help in developing a secondary market in India for municipal bonds.
Since the motive of creating sustainable cities lines up with the Centre’s objective of green growth. It is also worth noting that with the transformation of the cities, there will also be a lot of job creation on the ground which would employ the labour class on a much larger scale.
The focus on green growth and sustainability in the budget this year, when implemented, is definitely going to be a game-changer. Deepak Tiwari, COO, KSH Logistics says, “the emphasis on green energy and skill development demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and growth, positioning the industry for a more efficient, environmentally conscious, and skilled future.”