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Financing TOD in Indian Cities – Challenges and opportunities

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) seeks to optimize the use of land through walkable urban development located in close proximity of high-quality public transit, combining housing, office, retail and/or other amenities. The use of TOD as an urban growth strategy is relatively new in India but it is recognized by the national government as a legitimate and effective guide for the future growth of cities.

In July 2015, the Ministry of Urban Development approved the Transit Oriented Development Policy for Delhi through an amendment of the Master Plan for Delhi-2021, with an aim to address the growing problems of pollution, congestion and shortage of homes for the poor and middle class in the state. While a powerful tool for creating livable communities along good public transit, several types of barriers exist to effectively operationalizing TOD, mostly relating to financing, institutional capacity and governance, administering codes and regulations, and information availability. While there is ample literature on “what to do,” especially with respect to the design aspects, there is meagre understanding of “how to do it” to make it a city-wide equitable development strategy that includes all public and private stakeholders.

Globally, one of the larger issues with implementing TOD is with respect to identifying and addressing systemic financing gaps. While the TOD Policy has been introduced in Delhi and is up for testing through the launched pilot project, it is crucial to look at financial tools and mechanisms that can render it effective. Comprehensive financial planning for continuous flow of required resources for implementation and sustainable operation is fundamental to achieve the set target. Furthermore, the economic condition of the city, political will and capacity among stakeholders are factors that can dramatically influence TOD outcomes. To develop a shared understanding of these issues and opportunities, WRI India, in association with Citi foundation and C40 is organizing a day long workshop on “Financing TOD in Indian Cities – challenges and opportunities” with the goal of deeper inquiry.

The framing recognizes finance as a key barrier to transit-oriented development and seeks to convene investors, financiers, experts, and city officials to engage in discussions about these aspects in implementing TOD. The workshop aims to be interactive and will consist of a limited number of presentations and group discussion around key issues in financing TOD. The objective is to collaboratively explore the key concepts of financing TOD, including what needs to be financed, what mechanisms exist, and their feasibility in the Indian and in specific Delhi’s context.

The target audience includes Field experts, City officials, financers, Banks, Developers, Transport providers and operators, capital providers from Delhi as well as representatives from other Indian cities which are in process of adopting the strategy of Transit Oriented Development. The goals and expected outcome of this workshop is knowledge building & sharing amongst stakeholders along with deliberative discussions on options and possible ways forward for TOD Financing in the Indian context.

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