Mr. Anuj Dayal, Executive Director, Corporate Communications, DMRC, New Delhi
Strengthening of urban infrastructure through the establishment of 'smart cities' is one of the major thrust areas of the current government. From a completely rural economy, India is gradually transitioning towards a predominantly urban one, where a mammoth proportion of the population is going to live in the cities.
Apart from the agrarian sector, activities pertaining to almost all other sectors such as industries, education or services are already urban based. With the passage of time and increasing population, more and more rural areas are expected to be urbanised in days to come.
The population residing in the urban areas, according to the 1901 census, was 11.4%. This count increased to 28.53% in the 2001 census, and now has crossed 30% as per the 2011 census. According to a survey by the United Nations State of the World Population report in 2007, by 2030, 40.76% of India's population is expected to reside in urban areas.
In such a scenario, the 'smart city' project of the government is indeed a praiseworthy initiative. As our cities grow further, they must be made capable enough to effectively deal with issues such as housing, transportation, health, water supply, education, sanitation, etc.
In the transportation sector, our cities have long suffered while their populations kept increasing exponentially with very little being done to boost the intra city transportation scenario. This is the story of almost all major cities of the country.
With the exception of Mumbai and Kolkata, no other city had a robust suburban rail network. Delhi, before the construction of the Metro, depended entirely on a bus system, which was grossly inadequate to deal with the burgeoning population pressure. The circular railway constructed in the national capital primarily before the Asian Games of 1982 could never fulfil the requirements of the people as the stations were found to be away from the populated areas.
The situation continues to be the same in most cities even today. The tier II cities of the country are growing at a rapid pace and the number of private vehicles has multiplied. Therefore, as the 'smart city' initiative of the government takes off in different parts of the country, let us analyse how we can provide 'smart' transportation to the people also along with the other modern amenities.
Presently, almost all our cities have clogged roads where the traffic moves at a snail's pace. The quality of life gets severely affected by frequent traffic snarls as commuting between short distances takes hours. Moreover, road traffic pollutes the environment severely.
Therefore, two factors must be kept in mind while planning 'smart' transportation for the citizens – the use of private vehicles must be curbed as much as possible and the alternate modes of mass transport that don't use road space or pollute the environment must be introduced.
In such a scenario, Metro railway systems can be the ideal solution. Metro networks can carry a substantial number of people from one location to another efficiently and without causing pollution. Moreover, they can be constructed along the roads on elevated tracks or even underground without taking up major space.