News Article
July 21, 2018

City Experts Unlock Urban Challenges in Bengaluru, India

Unlock Bengaluru 2018. Photo by WRI India

BENGALURU (July 21, 2018) — Bengaluru’s trajectory of unprecedented urbanization and economic growth has brought with it the chaos of haphazard development that is negatively impacting human and environmental health. On July 21, WRI India convened urban experts for Unlock Bengaluru 2018. During the one-day conference, practitioners deliberated on issues pertaining to water, mobility, energy efficiency, urban governance, and the development of large corporate parks and residential townships. 


With losses in distribution, underserved peripheries, and poor or insufficient waste water treatment facilities, what are the alternatives for Bengaluru? The city needs to move water conversation beyond mere demand and supply and focus on better governance structures and robust institutions, which are critical for resilient water supplies. Furthermore, we need to think beyond the waste disposal and focus on waste management.


As new buildings crop up across the city, it’s vital to consider implementing energy efficiency measures in the new construction as well as in existing buildings. The energy-saving potential from retrofits for apartment buildings in the city is huge. While there is a lot of technology available, adoption is slow, owing in part to poor information dissemination. Regulation will be a key driver in the process of implementation. Bengaluru needs strong enforcement of building codes and energy efficiency guidelines for apartment complexes, along with smart-metering technologies for common areas.


With an estimated 80,000 taxis operating under the aggregator model, Bengaluru has witnessed first-hand how shared and electric mobility have led to a reorganization of transport ownership and delivery. In this context, the city needs to rethink mobility planning. Successful models of transport delivery ensure coordination between city authorities and private players, using data and technology for commuter ease and operational effectiveness. Through initiatives like the Station Access and Mobility Program, the Better Bus Challenge and the New Mobility Lab, WRI India strives to make mobility inclusive and accessible for all.  


Bengaluru’s urban peripheries are dotted with large townships or corporate campuses. The city has seen 10,000 such developments since 2005, with more constructed every year. While they present an opportunity to set in place efficient systems for water, electricity supply and consumption, and waste management, they also place massive stresses on transport networks and land requirements. City authorities tasked with providing public services to these areas need to work with private developers to ensure accessibility and continuity with the existing road network.


As in most Indian cities, Bengaluru’s decisions are made at the state government level, with some power held by the municipal corporation. As Bengaluru continues to expand outward, how will the city decentralize governance to empower the metropolitan and local wards? Vertical domains within the existing governance structure mean most departments work independently. The city needs to be empowered with the authority to plan and implement solutions in a coordinated manner. In addition, people need to be invested in the city to create cultural spaces that are public and useable.

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