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Blog Posts: Cities

  • How a Small Experiment in Delhi's Suburbs Sparked a National Car-Free Movement

    This blog post originally appeared in TheCityFix.

    Imagine a city where roads that are normally clogged with traffic and clouded with smog are instead filled with people – rich and poor, young and old, men and women, all laughing, dancing, watching their children play, cycling Raahgand skating without fear of being run over. Yes, that’s what happened on November 17, 2013, when four and half kilometers of roads around the Galleria Market in Gurugram, India...

  • Easing a Data Drought to Propel City Climate Action

    Imagine a government official working in an Indian state overwhelmed by a multitude of pressing concerns – solid waste burning, water contamination, air pollution. Tracking greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has not been her top priority. And then she gets tasked with generating a climate action plan.

    But how can she get started on a plan that will have real impact in the absence of the granular data on GHG emissions from her state? She may not know how many vehicles are on the road (purview of the transport department) or how much solid waste is being generated (overseen by the...

  • Raahgiri 2.0: Re-Engineering Car-Free Days for Smaller Cities in India

    This blog post originally appeared in TheCityFix.

    If you drive out of New Delhi west along National Highway 48, you will find yourself reaching a small district in Haryana state named Jhajjar. Just 50 miles from the national capital, its demographic contrast is unmistakable. The bustle and density of New Delhi fades, replaced by agriculture and scattered industry. The population of the district is just 1 million. Jhajjar city has about 50,...

  • A First Step Down the Road to Zero-Carbon Buildings in India

    This blog post originally appeared in TheCityFix.

    In 2013, the world’s cities accounted for 64 percent of primary energy use and 70 percent of CO2 emissions. Energy use in buildings is the second largest contributor (after transport) to urban GHG emissions and to urban heat islands. Emissions reductions programs for buildings, then, could bring deep decarbonization to cities and other benefits to boot, like lower energy costs....

  • Financing Mass Transit Projects Through All Beneficiaries, And Not Just Users

    For some time now, there has been an ongoing tussle between the Government of Delhi and the National Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs about increasing fares for the Delhi metro. Under the existing law, a fare fixation committee reviews the fares for the Delhi metro and periodically suggest revisions. This committee is an apolitical body, includes representatives from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the Delhi government and is, typically, chaired by a retired judge. It considers the operating costs, possible revenues at different fare levels, and then makes...

  • The Mumbai rail stampede was waiting to happen. Here’s how we can prevent a similar tragedy

    This piece was originally published on

    Friday’s stampede at the Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai was a tragedy waiting to happen. I speak from my own horrifying experiences of being stuck in dense queues at Lower Parel and Currey Road stations in midtown Mumbai. Around 30,000-40,000 people alight at Elphinstone Road and Lower Parel during peak hours. The numbers are similar for Dadar, Parel and Currey Road. But the...

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