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Green and Sustainable Transport for Smart Gujarat

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Green urban mobilityGujarat as a State is surging towards a major transformation in the field of transportation by strategically creating and developing an efficient Green urban mobility and public transport system providing multiple transport options to the public, writes Sudheer Goutham of Elets News Network (ENN).

The Gujarat Government is developing smart, intelligent and eco-friendly transport system with proper strategic planning and execution. Be it the recently launched India’s first bullet train project connecting Ahmedabad and Mumbai, or the exemplary ‘Janmarg’ – Ahmedabad’s own Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) that commenced operation in 2009 and is getting replicated in other cities of Gujarat like Rajkot and Surat – these projects are designed to transform the travelling experience for a common man.

Gujarat’s first ever Metro rail project, called the Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) project is also picking up speed, and is part of the strategic planning of the State Government to provide efficient, affordable and world-class road transportation to the public.

It is given that the envisaged smart transportation and smart infrastructure would further increase the economic activity in the state.

Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Bullet Train:

On September 14, 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe launched India’s first bullet train connecting Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

Modi described the ambitious Rs 1.10-trillion project, which is expected to cut travel time between the two cities from seven hours to less than three, as a “big gift from Japan to India”.

It’s an under-construction high-speed rail line connecting the cities of Gujarat and Maharashtra with India’s financial capital Mumbai.

The 650-km long high-speed rail corridor will be India’s first high-speed rail line. The top speed expected for the corridor is up to 350 km/hr.

“The project is being implemented by the Railway Ministry along with the Governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The project will provide a major boost to mobility between Ahmedabad and Mumbai,” says Vipul Mitra, Principal Secretary, Transport, Department of Ports and Transport, Government of Gujarat.

“A GPS-based geo- tagging system has been installed in 108 ambulances across the State to identify “black spots”, to tap places where accidents occur frequently. Then, an audit is conducted on that place and based on it, rectification is done.”

The construction on the corridor began on September 14, 2017, and the train is scheduled for its first run on August 15, 2022. The cost of the ambitious project has now been estimated at Rs 90,000 crores as compared to the earlier estimate of Rs 63,000 crores. It is estimated that by 2023, around 40,000 passengers are expected to avail this service everyday and, therefore it would be a financially viable service.

“With the launch of Ahmedabad- Mumbai bullet train project, the travelling time from Vadodara-Mumbai will come down to less than two hours. This means, Vadodara will become an extended suburb of Mumbai, especially when the travelling time becomes less than travelling to one part of Mumbai to its another part. Later, people may prefer to stay in Vadodara and work in Mumbai,” said Vinod Rao, Commissioner, Vadodara Municipal Corporation.

Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad Metro Rail Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) Company Ltd was incorporated by the Government of Gujarat on February 4, 2010, to implement the Metro Rail Project under the Companies Act, 1956.

Till April 2017, over Rs 2,750 crores were already spent in building the Ahmedabad Metro for which the first Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared way back in 2005. In 2011, former IAS officer IP Gautam took over the project and around Rs 400 crores were spent on land redevelopment at Sabarmati. A fresh DPR was passed in November 2014.

“MEGA aims to create a state-of-the- art Metro rail network not only for Gujarat but also as an example for the whole country,” says IP Gautam, Managing Director, MEGA.

The construction is in full swing. On priority basis, the work (6.335 km) is being done at the rate of three spans (22-31 m each span) per day and it is scheduled to be made operational by the end of 2017—the remaining portion is expected to be operationalised by the end of 2019.

In view of the environmental consideration, the MEGA project is being developed under the Clean Development Mechanism.

“Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is assisting MEGA in ensuring maximum possible savings in carbon emissions. We are ensuring that the project will have minimum impact on the Green cover of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. In place of the every tree that is being affected by the construction of the project, 10 new trees are being planted. Even the heritage structures in the city are being given the due consideration,” adds Gautam.

The team at MEGA is also focussing on attracting people to the public transportation, which remains a challenge to the officials. Currently, the public transport ridership in the city is relatively low as compared to nearly same sizes cities like Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The patterns of the transport usage in the city is being studied and ascertained through demographic profiling of the people.

“We would work with the other public transport systems like BRTS and AMTS (Ahmedabad Municipal Transport System) and railways for integrating the last mile connectivity for the convenience of people in order to reduce the walkability,” says the Managing Director of MEGA.

The Metro Link has been designed with a pattern that will provide the interchange facilities with various modes of transport conveniently. The project is expected to greatly ease traffic congestion on the roads and usher in a new era in the life of Ahmedabad commuters. Clearly, Gujarat’s twin cities seem all set to acquire MEGA status in the not too distant future.

Green Powered Vehicles

CNG Green fuel: Talks are on with various companies specialising in Green fuels. The challenge, however, is the cost. The Green fuel-run buses are 10 times costlier. Also, there is a challenge on recharging the fuel. The Transport Department looks forward to the Government of India’s plan to introduce green vehicles across the country by 2030.

The State Government is in a process to experiment the solar bus service in the State. By next year, these buses will be seen plying on the roads. The Government is also exploring to introduce buses running on other alternative fuels. Recently, transport ministers from 17 different States of the country met in Vadodara for a conference, which was chaired by Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. Various projects were discussed to develop eco-friendly infrastructure.

ICT in Transport

A GPS-based geo-tagging system has been installed in 108 ambulances across the State to identify “black spots”, in order to tap places where accidents occur frequently. Then, an audit is conducted on that place and based on it, rectification is done.

The Department has upgraded its software that decentralises a lot of Regional Transport Offices activities. Number plate fixation can be done through vehicle dealers, Licensing can be done through the office of ITI located in the taluka. A mobile-based app for users to simplify the RTO process is soon to be launched.

GSRTC buses have been fitted with GPS. A control room has been established to track punctuality of buses and monitor driver’s activities on real-time basis. If the bus is delayed, stopped at unauthorised stops, diverts it to the wrong route, etc, it will have a direct impact on driver’s salary. With the use of this technology 90 per cent punctuality of drivers have been achieved. Also a mobile-based app has been launched for users to track real-time activities of buses they travel.

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