Filling the gaps in the city’s public transport connectivity, evolving innovative renewable energy models and developing feasible waste management systems were matters that dominated the deliberations at a consultative meeting of stakeholders organised by the Kochi Corporation here on Monday.
The workshop was held with the aim of delivering on the new urban agenda in the context of the Paris Agreement by the U.N. Habitat. This was in continuation of the project Solutions (Sharing Opportunities for Low Carbon Urban Transportations) of which Kochi was part of.
The city’s drive towards implementing the new urban agenda will be powered by the Urban Pathways project, which is partnered by the U.N. Habitat, Wuppertal Institute and U.N. Environment. The project will develop national action plans and concrete local implementation concepts to boost low-carbon urban development in key emerging economies - India, Brazil, Kenya and Vietnam. Kochi is the sole city in India to be selected under the project.
Talking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the meeting, Oliver Lah, Coordinator of Urban Pathways, shared the excitement and challenge of helping the city achieve the lofty goals. “The great thing about Kochi is the high level of political support and the presence of a large number of players and projects already in the sectors of low-carbon urban energy, mobility and waste management solutions. What we have to do is to put that all together for the benefit of all,” Mr. Lah said. He emphasised the need for making the mass transport system accessible to all and identified the electrification of autorickshaws and tapping of solar energy as one of the feasible interventions.
Mr. Lah said that it was in second-tier cities like Kochi where the ‘urban battle is won.”
Former Mayor K.J. Sohan urged the Urban Pathways Project heads to understand ground-level realities before suggesting solutions. He said that public transport was still inaccessible to over 50 per cent of the population and urged not to restrict transportation solutions to just city residents.
“There are even four-lane roads in the city like the Stadium Link Road, which was still not served by public transport,” said Mr. Sohan . He reminded that public transport operators were not taxed anywhere in the world.
Earlier, inaugurating the workshop, Mayor Soumini Jain said the Urban Pathways project would create an environment-friendly, modern Kochi.