Whither Plan C?

A recent op-ed by Planning Commission member Arun Maira in the Indian Express makes encouraging reading. But, is the work on the XII Plan actually following this third paradigm?
What are the ground level strategies to apply the principles of ‘localization, lateralization, learning and listening’ that Mr Maira talks about?

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Some quotes from ‘It is time for Plan C‘ by Arun Maira in the Indian Express, 27 oct 2011

The consensus of all states in the recent meeting of the National Development Council was that we want growth and, even more, we want more inclusion in growth. It was also clear that we need a process to make the states and the Centre work together to solve common problems.
So far, we have considered two plans (or paradigms) for our progress. Plan A is a strong government above that lays down the rules. And makes sure everyone follows them. This is governance based on a power hierarchy. This paradigm is expressed in a strong Central government of a country, even in a strong CEO of a corporation. The problem is that the powers above often get it very wrong. Plan B is to leave it to the market — in which the interacting atoms (or individuals) will figure it out somehow. This too is not satisfactory. Because, in reality, some atoms know more than others and are stronger than others. They set the rules, and manage the system to serve their ends.

There is a third way however. This is Plan C for governance.

It is high time that pro-government types, and pro-market types came together to explore Plan C. Because Plan C is better suited to learning and adapting to complex phenomena that experts cannot fully understand and a world in which problems do not know state and national boundaries.

Many people consider a “Planning Commission” in the 21st century an anachronism. Therefore, India’s Planning Commission is considering processes required to plan and govern in a 21st century world in which many things are interconnected and people want a greater say in the way they are governed. Four principles of Plan C provide the architecture. These are the Four Ls: localisation, lateralisation, learning and listening.

The principle of localisation is founded on the realisation that “one size does not fit all.” And that, whereas there could be universal principles, there is not likely to be a single package of these principles with universal applicability. The packaging must be done by local communities.

The principle of lateralisation requires that lateral links be deliberately designed across boundaries. So that people coordinate laterally, rather than expecting a power above them to compel them to coordinate. Ostrom’s research describes ways to achieve lateral coordination without an overbearing coordinator above. Such lateral coordination is obtained by communities of shared interests and processes for collaborative decisionmaking.

The third principle is learning based on “systems thinking”. Systems thinking is an orientation that has been killed by overspecialisation. Experts live in “conceptually gated communities”. They know a lot about a little. And understand little about the whole. Processes for understanding systems must be applied to enable us to solve global problems that have been created by our fragmented views of reality.

The fourth principle is listening. Experts must listen to each other. But most of all, experts must listen to the real people. They must understand the language of real people.

This is India’s 21st century challenge. Mindsets and institutions are not easy to change, even after their “use by” dates. But change we must to realise our aspirations for a more inclusive society. New processes must be invented. Sixty years ago, our far-seeing Constitution created political democracy. Now there is a growing recognition of human rights that go beyond the political right to vote, to economic and social rights too — to livelihoods, education, health and dignity.

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Slide show on What Footpaths Could Be

A slide-show by Ranjit Gadgil on what footpaths could be …
 

Nine Posters (UMI 2010)

Footpaths for Everybody

Cycle Network

Support Public Transport and

Intermediate Public Transport

Support Intermediate Public Transport and Rickshaws

Discourage Private Vehicles

Do No Evil

Rethink Metro Rail!

Support Informal Sector Livelihoods and Fright

Its about people and the environment

Protected: How is SUM Net Doing?

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Mumbai … must follow NUTP principles

The newspaper Daily News & Analysis (DNA) dated 31 August 2011 published a news item with the headline “BMC: Useless to Invest in Public Transport”, largely quoting the Municipal Commissioner. Many of the statements seem unwarranted and contrary to the thinking underlying the National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) —  “buying a car is the best solution for a person to meet his commuting needs and may also be better for the city”; “There’s little sense in spending hundreds of crores on public transportation, when a majority of the population resorts to private transport”;  (Urban planners should) “encourage private transport in a sustainable manner”.

SUM Net believes that the NUTP has correctly set the urban transport agenda by emphasizing the movement of people, not vehicles and requiring the focus to be on public transport as well as non-motorized transport. Given that even in the present situation a majority of urban commuters use public transport, cycle and walk, it is appropriate that public investment must focus on these modes.

The Ministry of Urban Development should take steps to propagate the National Urban Transport Policy and ensure greater awareness about it, especially amongst bureaucrats and elected representatives. The Ministry should also ensure that all Mission cities which have transport projects submit their Comprehensive Mobility Plans – this will bind cities to the principle of sustainable transportation through planned actions.

The Hon’ble Minister of State Shri Saugata Ray had announced at the last Urban Mobility Conference (Dec 2010) that cities would be mandated to report on the Service Level Benchmarks published by the Ministry. SUM Net asks that the MoUD follow up on that promise.

Cities in Maharashtra are growing very rapidly, and increased motorization is already creating huge problems such as air pollution, increasing no. of accidents and loss of open/green spaces to accommodate traffic. Congestion is increasing and will have a negative impact on the ability of the urban economies to grow. Statements such as those carried in the DNA article send the wrong message to cities, which will incorrectly try and provide for more personal vehicles, which will only make problems worse.

SUM Net requests the Maharashtra State Urban Development Dept. to create a State Urban Transport Policy along the lines of the National Urban Transport Policy and give directives to cities to create and implement Comprehensive Mobility Plans. The Urban Development Dept. should monitor the progress of these plans and also require cities to publish benchmarks which measure how well the cities are on track to achieve a greater share of trips by public transport and non-motorized transport modes. The Urban Development Dept. should also consider capacity building and awareness programs so that more bureaucrats and elected representatives are made familiar with ideas regarding sustainable transport.

If Mumbai does not take active steps to curb the growth of personal vehicles (for instance by creating a parking policy that acts as a deterrent for use of vehicles) the city will face deteriorating air quality, more traffic accidents and a further loss of open/green spaces in a futile attempt to accommodate more and more vehicles. Further, the city will end up investing more public money in infrastructure projects such as the ill-conceived Bandra-Worli Sea Link project, flyovers and more roads, which will mean less money spent on other badly-needed civic amenities. Projects such as these do not help solve congestion – something that cities in the West have already realized – and instead choke the economy of the city and consequently the State and the country.

Low cost measures, such as improving the quality of footpaths, by adopting urban street design guidelines, such as the one published by the Delhi Development Authority (http://bit.ly/streetdesigns), will not only benefit millions of pedestrians but also address the issue of last mile connectivity. Public bicycle schemes, extremely successful in European and now Chinese cities (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk0-dbE5YVU) may also be considered by Mumbai.

As CEO of the financial capital of the country, the Municipal Commissioner should rely on professional urban transport planners to help create robust Comprehensive Mobility Plan and take steps to implement it. Urban Transport planning is a serious and intricate subject and should not become a matter of (misplaced) personal opinion.

Learning for Sustainable Mobility in Pune, India

(Interview published in Education and Sustainability no. 6 Autumn 2009 www.es-online.info and Education for Change, Vol 16 No 4)

Ranjit!Ranjit Gadgil, Programme Director at Parisar[1], a civil society organization focusing on sustainable development based in Pune and member of SUM Net India, shares his views on Education for Sustainable Mobility in Pune with Sanskriti Menon who works with Urban Programmes at the Centre for Environment Education[2], and manages the secretariat of SUM Net India.

What is sustainable mobility?

The first step towards sustainable mobility is the recognition that though private motorized transport offers individual convenience, it cannot be the major mode as cities grow. The situation rapidly becomes unsustainable with congestion and pollution. Building a city around the private automobile leads to an insidious reduction of quality of life and equity; there is lop-sided allocation of resources, and even social issues such as people becoming cut-off from one another. Understanding about carbon contributions from transportation systems to climate change has added a global dimension to what was earlier thought of as a local issue.

Is it understood in Pune and in India?

The National Urban Transport Policy (new window pdf 250 kb) by the Government of India, and the federal Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission have strongly emphasized enhancement of public transport and non-motorized transport. These are both welcome and important policy decisions however a greater emphasis on Traffic Demand Management is still needed.

In Pune, civil society groups have been discussing the traffic and transport issues for over a decade so the demands for bicycle tracks, improvements in buses, and even the concept of traffic demand management are no longer met with incredulous surprise. However, the old paradigm is still too deeply ingrained – when  we suggest ‘add a bus lane’ or ‘increase the footpath width’, people still ask, ‘ what about space for motor vehicles?’

People are still not thinking of non motorized transport and public transport as the main pillars of mobility systems for the city, but simply as utopian ideas.

How useful are examples from cities elsewhere?

The major transformations towards more sustainable mobility seem to have taken place in South America and Europe. The Transmileno[3], Velib[4] and the London Congestion Charge[5] are powerful demonstrations of this and we have facilitated visits of municipal officials to some of these cities.  It has been clearly demonstrated in Curitiba and Bogotá that a committed politician can bring about radical change, however in Europe, the change has been more gradual and accompanied by wide-ranging discussions and public engagement in the formulation of local and higher-level policies.

In Pune we don’t have a directly elected mayor and nor are our city-level policy formulation processes very well formed as yet, so we have to adapt examples of transformation processes that might have been very effective elsewhere in the world which we can communicate through presenting design typologies and films such as those prepared by Interface for Cycling Expertise[6] and GTZ[7].

How have you engaged with local policy-makers?

Civil society groups in Pune have largely interacted with the bureaucracy on sustainable transport issues. However, much more engagement with elected representatives is necessary for the evolution of local policies, plans and budgets for sustainable mobility systems. In the future, we aim to help candidates standing for election as well as the electorate, understand how public transport and non motorized transport facilities are related to equity, quality of life, income levels etc. Given that at least half the voting population of Pune uses the bus service (which needs great improvements), it makes sense to be more strategic about engaging with elected representatives.

Mobility needs to be part of election manifestos.

Parisar has organized car-free days, pedestrian protests, a signature campaign by bus users demanding improvements, protests against bus fare-hikes etc. Hopefully, such expressions do convey the citizens’ needs to the politicians!

What´s the role of young people’s clubs and senior citizen organizations?

When you’ve just got your driving license, and experienced freedom with a motorbike, it’s difficult to be too serious about footpaths and buses! But students in professional courses of architecture, engineering, planning especially must be exposed to technical aspects of designing sustainable mobility systems as well as the social dimensions such as equity and inclusion. For this, we design projects for students such as passenger counts, footpath designs, opinion surveys, designing communication material, organizing presentations etc.

It’s a good idea to engage senior citizens groups as advocates for sustainable mobility. They are adversely affected because of poor footpaths and bus services and they are often well-connected since they’ve been around, and can influence the local councilors!

What about schools?

We’ve developed a survey on how children come to school. Students are supposed to take the survey sheet home and fill it in after discussing it with parents. Often parents call up to complain that cycling is not safe in Pune’s traffic conditions and we explain that the idea is to help children understand the need for city-wide safe and sustainable mobility. We also conduct a short slide-show and a film by ICE, followed by a discussion.

The values dimension (equity, inclusion) is often included as we think it important that students are able to link the state of our city to its governance. We encourage students to write to the Municipal Commissioner presenting their views on the state of traffic and transport in Pune, and how they would like it to be.

Political education is part of learning for sustainability.

Non Motorized Transport Needs Special Emphasis

A Cell for Non-Motorized Transport has been recently created in the Pune Municipal Corporation and a separate budget line has been allocated. It is important to have a separate Cell with a special budget, at least initially. Ideally, these should be an integral part of road design, and be administered by the Road and Traffic departments.  Citizens have a large role in the transition to more sustainable transport, they need to realize their own power and demand a great bus service, footpaths and cycling facilities from the councilors.

Madhav Latkar, Development Engineer, Pune Municipal Corporation

Concepts: Non motorized transport, traffic demand management, political education

Safe Transportation (primary level)

Mobility!  (secondary level)

Mobility and social exclusion: a new challenge for the local administration (university level)

Debate: What has politics got to do with sustainable mobility?

References

  1. http://www.parisar.org/ Civil society organisation promoting sustainable urban transport in India
  2. http://www.ceeindia.org/ Non governmental organisation delivering environmental education since 1984, with 40 offices across India
  3. http://www.transmilenio.gov.co/ Bus Rapid Transport system in Bogota which carries a citizenship education program on sustainable mobility.
  4. http://www.velib.paris.fr Bike rental service in Paris open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with stations approximately 300m away
  5. http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/congestioncharging An obligatory and automated charging system of £8 per vehicle per day to enter the central zone of London. Alternative fuelled and electric vehicles, vehicles with more than 9 seats and motor-tricycles are exempt from the charge
  6. http://www.i-ce.info/ International NGO for low cost mobility and integrated cycling planning and interface to the Dutch cycling culture and capabilities
  7. http://www.gtz.de/ International cooperation enterprise for sustainable development with worldwide operations

Sustainable Transport for Resilient Cities – Responding to Climate Change

A Public Talk

By Prof. Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University, Australia

Organized by the Australia-India Council, Centre for Environment Education, Parisar, FEED, MCCIA and SUMNet India on 11 January 2011

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Prof. Peter Newman is Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University, Australia and Lead Author Transport, IPCC, 5th Assessment Report and Author of “Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change

The new economic challenge for cities is to decarbonise for climate change and to reduce oil dependence for energy security.

Prof Newman examined case studies and trends emerging to support resilience, especially the shift away from automobiles to sustainable modes of transport. His presentation drew out seven characteristics that future cities should have, to be more resilient :

  1. The Renewable City: electricity-based renewables will be made resilient through smart grids and the battery storage of electric vehicles; renewable natural gas will enable freight, regional transport and industry to decarbonise.
  2. The Carbon Neutral City: offsets will enable natural ecosystems in the bioregion to be rebuilt.
  3. The Biophilic City: reducing heat stress due to enhanced urban heat island effects will be enabled by ‘natural air conditioning’ through landscaping buildings and reducing heat absorption in urban materials.
  4. The Distributed City: new technology to decarbonise energy, water and waste systems are precinct scale and will be made resilient by smart, distributed green infrastructure.
  5. The Eco-Efficient City: industrial estates will use industrial ecology and green infrastructure to close the loops on their metabolism.
  6. The Place-Based City: the human dimension of the resilient city is an emphasis on local economies and local identity.
  7. The Sustainable Transport City: polycentric urban forms based around quality transit and walkable centres will be the competitive edge in shaping resilient cities.

 

Prof Peter Newman’s presentation in Pune, 11 Jan 2011

 

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