Ahmedabad, Pune among 9 cities to get 4-star rating for climate initiatives

Updated on Jun 26, 2021 10:03 AM IST

Indore, Pimpri Chinchwad, Vadodara, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Rajkot, and Surat were also adjudged top performers among 126 cities.

Image for representation. (AFP)
Image for representation. (AFP)
ByRisha Chitlangia

Nine Indian cities have taken significant measures to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis and inculcated a climate-sensitive approach to urban planning, according to the cities’ readiness report on Climate-Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) released by the ministry of housing and urban affairs (HUA) on Friday.

Ahmedabad, Indore, Pimpri Chinchwad, Vadodara, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Pune, Rajkot, and Surat were adjudged top performers among 126 cities that participated in the second edition of the assessment launched in September.

Kunal Kumar, joint secretary and mission director of Smart Cities Mission, HUA, said, “The CS (Climate-Smart) is a unique national framework that covers almost every aspect that impacts climate in the cities. Water management, mobility (especially increasing public transport), green buildings, and urban planning are areas where there are lacunas that need to be improved. The good things about this assessment framework help in improving all these indicators in an integrated manner. Now, cities have a real-time dashboard on how they are performing on climate aspect, which will help them in better planning.”

While cities are facing infrastructure challenges and environmental degradation due to rapid urbanisation, they are also struggling to tackle extreme events such as flooding, heatwaves, and cyclones. India was the seventh most affected by the devastating impact of climate crisis globally in 2019, according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021.

A ministry official said CSCAF is aimed at providing a roadmap for Indian cities towards mainstreaming climate action in their policies and development plans. The Coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted the need to prepare cities for climate, environmental, and public health risks.

The cities were assessed on five key themes (with 28 indicators): urban planning, green cover and biodiversity, energy and green buildings; mobility and air quality, water management, and waste management. The performance was rated on five levels (1 to 5 stars).

Kumar said the assessment is only ranking cities based on their performance, “In the times to come, we plan to move towards outcome-based funding….Cities that improve their ranking will get more funds. We incentivize improvement of ranking for cities in the framework.”

In urban planning and waste management themes, some cities have shown positive impact and were given 5 stars in performance level. But in mobility and air quality, water and energy themes, no city got 5 stars, indicating that a lot of work needs to be done before results are visible on the ground.

As per the report, 43 smart cities in India are facing poor air quality that poses serious health concerns. To address the issues of air pollution and water-related problems in cities, increasing the green cover, rejuvenation of water bodies, encouraging the use of public transport and non-motorized vehicles, etc are essential.

Indore, Surat, and Visakhapatnam were adjudged top performers in the urban planning, green cover, and biodiversity theme, as they have taken concrete steps not only in planning but also in making budgetary provisions, ensuring implementation on the ground, and setting up monitoring and review mechanisms. Of the 126 cities, 65 cities, including Thane, Pune, Agra, Coimbatore, etc meet the norms for 12-18% green cover.

While a large number of cities have taken initiatives for the rejuvenation of water bodies and increasing the green cover, not much has been done in mainstreaming and addressing the climate crisis by making provisions in urban development policies. As per the report, 96 out of 126 cities are yet to form climate coordination cells within the local bodies. Surat, Rajkot, and Udaipur are among the nine cities that have prepared CCAP.

To improve the air quality in cities, the Centre has pushed for encouraging the use of public and non-motorised transport to reduce air pollution.

One of the key indicators to assess mobility and air quality is the development of non-motorised transport networks. As per the report, a large number of cities have done little in this regard. During the pandemic, several cities reported a sharp rise in bicycle sales, indicating people’s willingness to use non-motorised transport.

Various studies have shown that close to 74% of people walk or rely on non-motorised transport for at least part of their daily commute. But most cities don’t have proper infrastructure for pedestrians and non-motorised transport. As per the report, 94 cities have less than 15% of road network with non-motorised transport infrastructure, while just six cities namely Kalyan Dombivali, Mysore, Naya Raipur, Ranchi etc have 50% or more.

Sewa Ram, professor of transport planning, School of Planning and Architecture, said, “It is easier for cities to develop NMT (non-motorised transport) infrastructure in greenfield developments. To address issues related to air pollution due to transport, there is a need to increase public transport and develop NMT infrastructure. But in most cities, we have to do retrofitting. There is a need to provide assistance to cities to develop the infrastructure.”

Of the 126 cities, including 100 smart cities, 44 cities are yet to initiate regular monitoring of air quality. Amaravathi, Bilaspur, Mangalore, Nashik, Pimpri Chinchwad, Rajkot, and Vijayawada are the cities that have achieved the National Air Quality standard in all the four main pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NOx, SOx).

Only Pune has managed to progress beyond implementing the identified actions under Clean Air Action Plan (planning and monitoring) indicator for air quality and has documented the impact, as per the report.

The Delhi government’s Electric Vehicle Policy is an example of efforts made by cities in addressing mobility and air quality concerns. The national capital’s performance on various parameters was judged largely based on information provided by the New Delhi Municipal Council, which is part of the smart cities’ mission.

Officials said that in some categories, overall data available in the public domain was considered.

While the national capital was given a five-star rating in waste management (which was assessed based on the performance of Swachh Survekshan 2020), the city got a three-star rating in mobility and air quality, energy, and green buildings and urban planning, green cover and biodiversity themes.

Water management is one area where a large number of cities have to do a considerable amount of work. Ahmedabad, Surat, and Vijayawada are the only three cities that have considered the climate change aspect in water management and are in the process of implementing it.

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