Kolkata: SwitchON Foundation recently conducted a multi stakeholder virtual workshop on the topic ‘A Road Towards Clean Air and Sustainable Mobility’. A high level panel discussion was also organized as a part of the virtual event.
The webinar was organised with an objective to raise awareness on the critical role of sustainable mobility & clean transportation as an apparatus for cleaner air, reduce congestion, improve safety and a more inclusive model of transport in the city. Particularly given that there is an urgent need to realign planning priorities and pay special attention to Non Motorised Transport (NMT) as an integral part of the overall mobility and transport for the City.
Vehicular pollution along with challenging road conditions faced by the pedestrians and cyclists call for a shift in the current transportation system in Indian cities. As embraced by various global cities, cities in east India need Non Motorised Transport (NMT) supporting infrastructure to mitigate the challenges faced by pedestrians and cyclists and to make its transportation system sustainable.
The virtual event was attended by distinguished urban planners, urban designers, sustainable mobility experts, environmentalists, campaigners, researchers and members of the civil society organisation from across the country. Who were highlighting the urgent need for defining clear goals to enhance cooperation between policymakers, urban planners and final beneficiaries.
There is a growing belief that people ideally should have their right to choose their transport and the right to move freely. Therefore, planning for NMT not only makes economic sense because of the high prevalent mode shares, but also contributes to social equity by improving accessibility to jobs and houses. In addition, NMT modes are completely non-polluting and help to reduce the environmental burden of the city.
Rajanvir Singh Kapur, IAS, Managing Director of WBTC, said, “I love walking and cycling but in Kolkata these are mostly done by commuters due to their economic constraints. He further added “A social change needs to come where people pickup these activities out of the concern for the environment and pleasure instead of only compulsion. In Europe some streets are exclusively reserved for NMT and cars are banned there, such initiatives should be taken up in Kolkata as well.”
“An NMT based infrastructure can play an important role in reducing air pollution and the adverse health effects of pollution. The need of the hour is to develop a comprehensive mobility plan for our cities with a priority on developing an NMT master plan.” said Vinay Jaju Founder SwitchON Foundation.
During the event a task of creating a framework of Youth Charter was also announced, the charter is expected to be ratified by those present during the webinar and would be further by a list of other important individuals and organisations. The charter would be built on a vision to make Kolkata one of the most liveable cities for its citizens by 2030.