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Seoul, Delhi etch pact to share expertise on 12 fields

The Delhi government on Friday signed a “Friendship and Cooperation Agreement” with the Seoul Metropolitan Government under which the two cities would exchange expertise for betterment in 12 fields including environment, transport, tourism, solid waste management and public health.

delhi Updated: Sep 15, 2018 03:54 IST
Soumya Pillai and Sweta Goswami
Soumya Pillai and Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Seoul,Delhi government,Seoul Metropolitan Government
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Seoul mayor Park Won-Soon in Seoul on Friday, sought cooperation from his South Korean counterpart, particularly seeking their expertise in dealing with transport and pollution.(PTI)

The Delhi government on Friday signed a “Friendship and Cooperation Agreement” with the Seoul Metropolitan Government under which the two cities would exchange expertise for betterment in 12 fields including environment, transport, tourism, solid waste management and public health.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Seoul mayor Park Won-Soon in Seoul on Friday, sought cooperation from his South Korean counterpart, particularly seeking their expertise in dealing with transport and pollution.

Both cities have been mandated to build a ‘twinning cell’ for easy communication and knowledge sharing.

In a speech prior to signing the agreement, Kejriwal said Delhi has twice the population of Seoul and roughly thrice the area. “But, both cities have some common issues to be addressed,” he said.

Hindustan Times takes a look at some of the major issues that plague the two cities and the different approach they have followed to deal with these issues.

Transport

While Delhi struggles to have a unified policy for transportation, Seoul has already achieved setting up an integrated public transport system. Official data shows 74% of Seoul’s population use public transport for commute. Only 26% of residents use private cars.

“It is not just about providing public transport systems but about making it convenient. In Delhi last-mile connectivity despite having concepts like multi-modal integration has not taken shape because of multiplicity of agencies. In Seoul, modes are integrated so seamlessly that people want to avail them,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, head of research and advocacy at Centre for Science and Environment.

The Delhi government has also been trying to increase its bus fleet from a meagre 5,561 public buses to 11,000. However, at least four tenders for bus procurement have failed in the last eight years.

Waste management

As Delhi struggles to manage its four towering landfills, one of which has reached the height of Qutub Minar, South Korea has been powering the energy needs of its cities by utilising landfill gas to generate electricity.

The perfect example for this is the erstwhile Nanjido landfill, which the Korean government says was “34 times larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza”. It was then converted into a massive biodiversity public park.

In Delhi, serious deliberations on landfills began only when a portion of the Ghazipur landfill site caved in killing two people in September 2017. The government called a series of “emergency meetings” which led to several suggestions and plans, all these remain on paper as of now.

Waterbody revival

While multiple attempts to revive the Yamuna have failed, in mid-2003, the then Seoul mayor Lee Myeong-Bak successfully initiated a $281 million project to remove a highway and restore the Cheonggyechan — a stream that cuts through Seoul.

Back home, multiple Yamuna Action Plans have failed and new plans such as the sewer interceptor project and Yamuna Revitalisation Plan 2017 have already missed multiple deadlines. “Thousands of crores have been spent, but a clear policy and implementation is needed. If a small city like Seoul can do it, so can we. There is a lack of political will,” said Manoj Misra, from the NGO, Yamuna Jiye Andolan.

Environment

With the threat of Delhi becoming the world’s most polluted city looming large, government agencies woke up to the urgency only in 2017 when the Graded Action Plan was notified. Action plans kick in based on severity levels of air pollution. In Seoul, public transport is free on days when pollution spikes. Apart from this high parking charges and other such measures have also helped.

First Published: Sep 15, 2018 03:54 IST