WRI India | Thriving Eco-city Regions

13th October 2023: WRI India Team Meets Rajya Sabha MP, Balbir Singh Seechewal to Discuss the Rejuvenation Efforts of Kala Sanghian Drain

Hon. Member of Rajya Sabha and local MLA Balbir Singh Seechewal has been a popular local leader in Punjab, leading efforts for environmental and community welfare for a long time. He is also credited with Kali Bein rivulet cleanup in Sultanpur Lodhi. In a collaborative meeting with him, WRI India local coordinator from Punjab, Rishabh Gaba introduced WRI India’s initiatives in the region and discussed ongoing efforts for the revitalization of Kala Sanghian Drain, with a specific focus on green spaces and potential involvement of local authorities. The meeting allowed for gaining lessons from Baba Seechewal’s experiences through many decades of working towards revitalisation of water channels in association with communities.

Baba Seechewal’s emphasis on a collective effort towards environmental and community improvement has been an important lesson and will be vital for development of green spaces, construction of ghats and roads, and the exploration of utilizing canal water from Jalandhar distributary canal.

17th October 2023: WRI India Participates in a Multi Stakeholder Discussion on ‘Imagining Urban Accessibility for Persons with Invisible Disabilities’ at India International Centre, New Delhi

Neha Lal, Manager, Sustainable Cities and Transport at WRI India, participated in a multi stakeholder discussion titled ‘Imagining Urban Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities’ the objective of which was to initiate a conversation on developing cities that are inclusive of persons with less visible or invisible disabilities, and are hence also inclusive and liveable for all.

The discussion aimed to foster an understanding of “invisible disabilities,” including conditions like anxiety, depression, intellectual disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), among others. It also explored the role and influence of the urban environment in Indian cities on these concealed disabilities.
The keynote address was delivered by Shri Rajesh Aggarwal - Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India. Stakeholders included persons with lived experience, caregivers, disability rights advocates, accessibility consultants and urban planners/ architects, as well as legal and policy academics.

Neha Lal provided perspectives on the domain of urban planning given that 70% of the urban built form required in the upcoming decades is yet to be built. Building capacity through interdisciplinary expertise within authorities who build plans and policies as well as the need to incorporate a more inclusive definition of disability within legal statutes that considers invisible forms of disability were highlighted through her address.

30th October 2023: WRI India MANTHAN 3.0 & MANTHAN 4.0 Focused on Non-Motorized Transport Solutions and Enhancing Urban Green Spaces

As part of our ongoing MANTHAN series dedicated to fostering knowledge exchange, problem-solving, and collaboration among the Jalandhar Eco City-Regions Fellows, we conducted MANTHAN 3.0 on 6th October with the objective to explore measures and solutions for Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) within the Model Town Area of Jalandhar.

The session was led by Rajiv Malagi (Program Manager - Sustainable Cities & Transport, WRI India) who stressed the importance of taking a holistic and regional approach to address NMT challenges in the Model Town Area in Jalandhar. Through the session, fellows understood the value of conducting feasibility studies to ensure that proposed NMT solutions are not only visually appealing but also, practical and financially viable. Additionally, the meeting underscored the importance of addressing parking-related challenges as part of the overall transportation strategy for the region, ensuring a well-rounded and sustainable approach.

MANTHAN 4.0, conducted on 30th October was led by Sindhuja Janakiraman (Senior Program Associate, Urban Water Resilience, WRI India) and aimed to equip the Eco City-Region Fellows with insights and knowledge that can contribute to the enhancement of urban green spaces, promoting environmental sustainability and overall quality of life in Jalandhar.

The session introduced the Fellows to a successful case study of Jakkur Lake in Bengaluru, and NammaBlueGreenUru initiative by WRI India. This case study showcased effective nature-based solutions for climate adaptation, providing valuable insights and inspiration for the Fellows to contribute to the creation of urban green spaces in Jalandhar. The focus extended to landscape design, amenities, sustainability, and community well-being.

7th November 2023: WRI India Participates in Key Discussions Around the Kala Sanghian Pilot Project

In a pivotal meeting held with officials from Municipal Corporation of Jalandhar and WRI India team on the Kala Sanghain Drain Project, discussions were held on criteria for identifying pilot projects adjacent to the Kala Sanghain Drain.

The selected pilot sites near the canal were examined by on-ground teams. ECR Fellows, guided by WRI India, actively participated in the initial design and survey work for the proposed projects, integrating crucial elements such as tree plantation initiatives. This meeting laid the groundwork, showcasing the collaborative synergy between local initiatives and best practices from global case examples.

Earlier this year, WRI India team walked along the 13 km stretch of the highly polluted Kala Sanghan drain in the city and documented the challenges around it. The drain, passing through residential, commercial, and industrial areas, suffers from the presence of domestic sewage, toxic industrial effluents, and dumped solid waste. The blog highlights the current condition of the canal and the local habitats through which it flows across the city of Jalandhar, illuminating the potential of nature-based solutions for its rejuvenation and connection with neighbouring communities.

6th - 10th November 2023: Buddy Connect Week Organized to Foster Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing Between ECR Fellows

WRI India organized a transformative buddy connect week for the fellows working under the Eco City-Region Fellowship Jalandhar (ECRFJ). The aim was to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing among the fellows.

ECR Fellows benefited immensely from one-on-one discussions that were enriched by the expertise provided by the WRI India team. Conversations revolved around overcoming challenges encountered during project execution, identifying topics for expert talks and MANTHAN sessions, and addressing various hurdles. The guidance from WRI India played a pivotal role in fostering a collaborative environment that facilitated profound knowledge exchange among the fellows.

Started in August 2023, the Eco City-Region Fellowship Jalandhar (ECRFJ), hosted by Smart City Jalandhar Limited and supported by WRI India, has provided a medium to empower young leaders and embed them closely into the process of building a sustainable future for their communities.

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25th November 2023: WRI India presents regional perspective on Bodoland to co-create scope of work with BTC, MoU to be Signed Soon

As part of the #ThrivingEcoCityRegions initiative, WRI India will be supporting Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in co-creating a regional strategy and improve its capacity to implement change. Post the team visit in early October, where meetings with key departments and field visits were undertaken, the team compiled and presented its first impressions and regional perspective on BTR. Teams from the BTC secretariat and WRI India have been working closely to detailing out relevant scope of work for co-creating a Regional Strategy and will be moving ahead towards formalising the engagement.

The MoU for WRI India’s appointment as a knowledge partner fill be formalized and signed by both parties in the coming weeks. In the meanwhile, the team is also working on drafting a Regional Spatial Strategy Development Work Plan to be shared upon initiation of our efforts with the region.

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28th November 2023: WRI India Participates in Preliminary Discussions on Initiating Rejuvenation of Ponds in Jalandhar

WRI India participated in preliminary discussions focused on the rejuvenation of ponds in the villages on the outskirts of Jalandhar MC. The discussion particularly highlighted pond rejuvenation in villages recently incorporated into the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation limit. The meeting also saw ECR Fellows actively participating in the planning process, emphasizing landscaping, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, and solid waste management strategies. This meeting contributed to the comprehensive approach in addressing surface water-related challenges in the region.

30th November 2023: WRI India Engages with SMRDA, Takes Further Steps for Facilitating the Process of Regional Plan Preparation for the Metropolitan Region

WRI India’s engagement with the Srinagar Metropolitan Region Development Authority (SMRDA) in the month of November concerned substantial strides taken in the direction of facilitating the process of regional plan preparation for the Metropolitan region. The team dedicated its efforts in understanding the existing situation, preliminary studies, and reviewing the legal mandates to get acquainted with the statutory provisions in action that enable the preparation of a regional plan or similar macro-level plans that can be undertaken at a regional scale.

1st December 2023: WRI India Supports Irrigation and Flood Control Department in Developing a River Managment Framework

WRI India, as one of the knowledge partners has been supporting the Government of National Capital Territory Delhi’s (GNTDC’s) effort to clean-up the river Yamuna by developing a river management framework.

The “Yamuna management framework - an ecological perspective (Draft)” developed over a period of three months by our team, was submitted to Mr. Anil Kumar, Chief Engineer (I&FC), Zone-I and SH. Mukesh Kumar, Chief Engineer (I&FC), Zone-II.

The objective of this framework is to serve as a manual to Irrigation & Flood Control Department (I&FC), to support their overall management of Yamuna River within the stretches of Delhi city.

The framework adopts a sustainable and integrated management approach to obtain data, make decisions for alternate measures, and conduct robust monitoring, evaluation, and learning mechanisms. While a comprehensive and holistic implementation framework covering the roles of varied government departments involved in the management of Yamuna River is required for institutional synery and effective action, this document acts as a first step towards it.

5th December 2023: Expert Opinions Discussed on the Way Forward for Regional Planning Framework for Srinagar Metropolitan Region (SMR) - 2047

WRI India conducted informal discussions on the way forward for Regional Planning Framework for Srinagar Metropolitan Region (SMR) 2047 with prominent (former and acting) Urban & Regional Planners from Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) & CEPT University Ahmedabad.

Deliberations on following queries with respect to Regional Planning Framework for SMR were held:

•Assessment area for Regional Planning of SMR

•Timeline considering the mandate to prepare multiple plans

•Sequence & Package of Plans proposed

These sessions provided insights and helped build towards a joint session later in the month for organising an experts panel on regional planning framework in SMR.

8th December 2023: WRI India Participates in a Discussion about ‘Accessibility of Public Parks for Persons with Disability’

Neha Lal, Manager, Sustainable Cities and Transport at WRI India, participated in an online Focus Group Discussion (FGD) on the subject of ‘accessibility of public parks for persons with disabilities. The primary objective of this FGD was to engage in collaborative dialogue and gather insights from a variety of stakeholders spanning persons with disabilities, self-advocates, disabled people’s organisations, and legal professionals, on the accessibility of urban public parks for persons with visible and invisible disabilities, and with a particular focus on Bengaluru, Karnataka.

The insights gathered during this FGD will inform a comprehensive report being compiled by Vidhi Legal Centre, providing recommendations to address accessibility issues and promote inclusivity in urban public green spaces. This information will then be shared with relevant government departments, authorities, and changemakers to advocate for participatory and inclusive planning.

14th December 2023: Rejeet Mathews Participates in the Review of the Draft Master Plan for Mathura Vrindavan 2031

The review of the draft master plan for Mathura Vrindavan 2031 was a pivotal gathering aimed at shaping the future development of these cities. Several critical aspects were discussed, highlighting the significance of regional connectivity, urban mobility, and proposed land use planning within the plan.

Rejeet Mathew participating in the review session of the Draft Master Plan Mathura Vrindavan 2031 along with esteemed members of Shaskiya Samiti in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Enhancing regional connection was prioritised, with a focus on making sure that Mathura and Vrindavan have effective transport networks and are well-connected to their surrounding communities. To make the environment more readable and accessible for both locals and tourists, the urban transportation layer was given special attention.

Moreover, the proposed land use planning was a central topic, addressing how the land in these cities will be allocated for various purposes such as residential, commercial, industrial, recreational, and green spaces. Balancing these allocations to meet the needs of the growing population while preserving the cultural and environmental heritage of Mathura and Vrindavan was a key concern.

During the meeting, there was a recognition of the need for a comprehensive guideline document. This document would serve as a reference for the technical monitoring and evaluation of master plans, focusing on both quantitative and qualitative aspects. It was suggested that such a guideline would be particularly beneficial for Tier-II and Tier-III cities in Uttar Pradesh, providing a structured framework for evaluating and ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of future urban development plans.

14th December 2023: WRI India Team Meets with Principal Secretary, Urban Development at Directorate of Urban Local Bodies, Lucknow

The meeting between WRI India and the Principal Secretary, Urban Development Uttar Pradesh at Directorate of Urban Local Bodies in Lucknow focused on crucial aspects related to road safety, stormwater drainage, and data management within the Chief Minister’s Grid (CM Grid) initiative.

The discussion highlighted the integration of road safety measures and stormwater drainage systems within the broader framework of the CM Grid project for enhancing resilience. Strategies and plans were discussed to improve road safety standards on selected roads incorporated into the CM Grid. Additionally, the meeting addressed the importance of efficient stormwater drainage systems to prevent flooding and ensure the smooth functioning of road networks, emphasizing the need for effective design and maintenance in this regard.

An essential component of the meeting involved outlining a robust framework for managing data pertaining to the selected roads under the CM Grid initiative. This framework likely included aspects such as collecting, organizing, analysing, and utilizing data related to road infrastructure, safety records, drainage systems, and other relevant parameters. Establishing a comprehensive data management system would facilitate informed decision-making and better implementation of improvements within the CM Grid roads.

The meeting culminated in the proposal of signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between WRI India and Department of Urban Development Uttar Pradesh. The proposed MOU will outline the terms of collaboration, responsibilities, and objectives concerning data management specifically tailored for the CM Grid project. The formal partnership with UDD will strengthen joint action and support from WRI India towards the Urban Development Department, Govt of Uttar Pradesh.

14th December 2023: WRI India Participates in Discussions Centered Around Uttar Pradesh State Captial Region (UPSCR) Request for Proposal (RfP)

The meeting held at the Lucknow Development Authority involved stakeholders such as WRI India’s UP Ecocity coordinator Saurabh Verma, the Chief Engineer and the team leader from the State Project Management Unit (PMU) from Lucknow Development Authority. The primary focus of the discussion was centered around the ongoing developments concerning the Uttar Pradesh State Capital Region (SCR) Request for Proposal (RFP) and its Regional Act.

The meeting centered on a comprehensive review and discussion of the status of the Uttar Pradesh SCR RFP. Detailed conversations were held regarding the draft RFP, culminating with submission of WRI India’s review and feedback through both email correspondence and physical hard copies.

Potential changes or adjustments in the demarcation of the SCR boundary, considering various factors and implications associated with such modifications were also highlighted. The meeting also included a discussion on the status of the formation of the Uttar Pradesh Regional Planning Act. WRI India has requested an update on the progress and expressed interest in providing knowledge support towards reviews of the act once drafted.

20th December 2023: #ExpertTalks 7 Help Fellows Understand Municipal Solid Waste Challenges

The seventh edition of #ExpertTalks for Jalandhar Eco City-Region fellows saw Mr. Achu R Sekhar, Program Manager at WRI India, leading a discussion on grassroots level challenges and opportunities in municipal solid waste management.

The lecture extensively covered strategies for solid waste management, the process of plastic waste management in India, Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) initiatives, segregated storage practices, and the impact of IEC on segregation. This expert session provided valuable insights and guidance to further enhance the program’s approach to solid waste management challenges.

22nd December 2023: WRI India Conducts Expert Consultation Workshop for Srinagar Metropolitan Region – 2047

WRI India invited leading national experts from the fields of mobility, infrastructure, economy and environmental and climate resilient regional planning for an online workshop to brainstorm on a suitable way forward for the Srinagar Metropolitan Region Development Plan.

An assessment of the provisions of the existing acts, broad existing situation overview, learnings from national and international case examples and emerging concerns were presented to the experts for feedback. The goal of the workshop was to arrive at a suitable roadmap for the preparation of the Request for Proposal (RfP) for the Srinagar Metropolitan Region Development Plan.

Subzar Bashir from WRI India provided a review of relevant acts and legislation while learnings from different international and national case studies of regional planning were presented by Pratibha Patil. Through a structured discussion moderated by Rejeet Mathews, our panel of experts and practioners shared their inputs and recommendations on infrastructure development, mobility management, land use, solid waste and environment management, and the economic development of the SMR region respectively.

25th-29th December 2023: Fellows Participate in the Buddy Connect Week

The fellowship program conducted a comprehensive ‘Buddy Connect Week.’ This initiative facilitated personalized, one-on-one discussions between Jalandhar Eco City-Region fellows. The dialogues delved into challenges faced during the execution of professional projects, exploration of potential topics for expert talks and MANTHAN sessions, and the identification of other challenges and tasks. Notably, fellows expressed a keen interest in continuing expert talks, particularly focusing on subjects related to solid waste management and GeoAnalytics. WRI India team will use this feedback to structure and schedule the following sessions and training workshops around thematics that are most relevant for fellows to upskill.

29th December 2023: WRI India Submits a Review for the Request of Proposal (RfP) of UPSCR

WRI India submitted a review for the Request for Proposal (RfP) of the Uttar Pradesh State Capital Region on December 29, 2024, which is centred on strategic improvements to enhance the efficacy of regional planning. A key suggestion involves refining and specifying the objectives of the regional planning initiative, mainstreaming climate resilience, advocating for the inclusion of specific targets and performance indicators. This precision ensures a more measurable and accountable approach. Furthermore, our focus extends to the sequencing of activities, emphasizing the need for a more detailed plan to provide a clear roadmap for implementation.

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16th January 2024: WRI India Signs an MoU with Bodoland Territorial Region as Part of the Eco City-Regions Project

WRI India signed an MoU with the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) to provide knowledge support towards capacity building, data analytics and the co-creation of a regional strategy for Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).

The MoU was signed between Mr. Akash Deep, Principal Secretary, BTC and Madhav Pai, CEO of WRI India witnessed by the Hon’ble Chief Executive Member (CEM) of BTC, Shri Parmod Boro. The event was attended by Executive Member of BTR, Mr. Wilson Hasda, social activist Raju Nerjary and officials from the Urban Development Department, Panchayat and Rural Development Department, Forest Department and Water Resources Department of BTC. Rejeet Mathews, Program Director – Urban Development and Neha Lal, Manager – Urban Developmemt from WRI India were also present at the occasion. The event was attended by more than 150 stakeholders including government officials, media personnel, members from local administration including municipal boards and village councils.

Thank you for these updates!