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Unlock Bengaluru 2018

Bengaluru’s trajectory of unprecedented urbanisation and economic growth has brought with it the chaos of haphazard development that is negatively impacting human and environmental health. At Unlock Bengaluru on 21 July 2018, experts and practitioners from various sectors deliberated on these issues under broad themes like water, mobility, energy efficiency, urban governance, and the development of large corporate parks and residential townships.

Considering losses in distribution, underserved peripheries, and poor or insufficient facilities for the treatment of waste and sludge water, what are the alternatives for Bengaluru? The city needs to move the conversation beyond mere demand and supply and focus on better governance structures and robust institutions, which are critical for resilient water supply. Furthermore, we need to think beyond the disposal of waste and focus on the management of waste.

With an increasing number of buildings being constructed in the city, how do we implement energy efficiency and renewable energy interventions for existing buildings which will be critical to creating a sustainable built environment in Bengaluru. The energy-saving potential via retrofits for apartment buildings in the city is huge. While there is a lot of technology available, adoption is slow, owing in part to poor information dissemination. Regulation will be a key driver in the process of implementation. Bengaluru needs strong enforcement of building codes and energy efficiency guidelines for apartment complexes, along with smart-metering technologies for common areas.

With an estimated 80,000 taxis operating under the aggregator model, Bengaluru has witnessed first-hand how shared and electric mobility have led to a reorganization of ownership and delivery of transport. In this context, the city needs to rethink mobility planning. Successful models of transport delivery ensure coordination between city authorities and private players, using data and technology for commuter ease and operational effectiveness. Through initiatives like the Station Access and Mobility Program, the Better Bus Challenge, and the New Mobility Lab, WRI India strives to make mobility inclusive and accessible to all.  

Bengaluru’s urban peripheries are dotted with large townships or corporate campuses. The city has seen 10,000 such developments since 2005, with more being constructed. While they present an opportunity to set in place efficient systems for water, electricity supply and consumption, and waste management, they also place massive stresses on transport networks and land requirements. City authorities tasked with providing public services to these areas need to work with the private developers to ensure accessibility and continuity with the existing road network.

As in most Indian cities, Bengaluru’s decisions are made at the state government level, with some power being held by the municipal corporation. In the context of rapid growth of the city beyond its municipal limits, and a host of related issues cropping up, how will the city decentralize governance in order to empower the metropolitan and local wards? Vertical domains within our existing governance structure have meant that departments work independently. The city needs to be empowered with the authority to plan and implement solutions in a coordinated manner. In addition, in an extreme city like Bengaluru with constraints of space, people need to be invested in the city to create cultural spaces that are public and useable.

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