An urban climate change resilience specialist, Oesha leads projects in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines for ADB’s Urban Resilience Fund. She supports inclusive and intelligent urban resilience planning of cities and communities, with a focus on connecting diverse stakeholders and integrating diverse urban systems.
Sourav is a project officer based in the ADB India Resident Mission working on water and sanitation projects. He has been involved with the formulation and implementation of various ADB-financed urban infrastructure and reconstruction projects, as well as those incorporating climate resilience into infrastructure. He believes that the solution to smart cities lies in good governance, adoption of new technologies, and greater public participation.
Efforts to build sustainable water supply and sanitation services by the Municipality of Kolkata were highly appreciated on 10 February by Department of Economic Affairs Joint Secretary Sameer Khare and ADB India Resident Mission (INRM) Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama in a meeting reviewing ADB-funded projects in West Bengal.
The urban water service is part of the Kolkata Environmental Improvement Investment Program (KEIIP), a $400 million ADB-assisted three-tranche program that aims to optimize the existing water supply system within three areas of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC). KMC is responsible for delivering water, sewerage, and solid waste management services in Kolkata, and through KEIIP, they will be able to provide continuous, pressurized water supply 24 hours a day, seven days a week (24x7) through specialized performance-based non-revenue water (NRW) reduction contracts.
The project also seeks to promote the use of the cutting-edge technology solutions such as micro-tunneling for laying large-diameter sewerage and drainage pipes to reduce public inconveniences, as well as intends to provide safe, environment-friendly sewage disposal and treatment through the construction of three sewage treatment plants (STPs) that have high-end treatment technologies and the development of digital land use maps using geographic information systems to support implementation of unit area based property taxes and utility mapping.
The Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF) – or the Urban Resilience Fund (URF), under ADB’s Urban Financing Partnership Facility – provides support to the program, specifically $3 million in grant funding for the second and third tranches. For Tranche 2, this will go into the design and implementation of a flood forecasting and early flood warning system (FFSW) and capacity development on land use and infrastructure planning that considers climate impacts and disaster risk management. For Tranche 3, the support will be for the resilient design and due diligence of solid waste management infrastructure; analysis of gaps and funding infrastructure interventions such as secure spaces for women and the vulnerable to improve public safety and security in KMC’s pilot areas; and, building institutional capacity and community awareness for improved resilience in KMC.
Challenges in Kolkata
Through the years, livability has improved in Kolkata, the largest city in the state of West Bengal and the seventh largest in India. Contributing at least 13% of the state’s gross domestic product, the city is and will remain the dominant commercial and financial hub of West Bengal.
However, the quality of basic urban services still requires improvement to reach national standards. The gap is particularly noticeable in water supply and sewerage services in terms of coverage, continuity, and quality. This affects the city’s ability to attract further investments, facilitate trade, and create jobs, limiting its competitiveness and quality of life.
In addition, Kolkata is facing climate- and disaster-related shocks and stresses, exacerbating its urban challenges. This is largely due to the city’s topography (a flat terrain with inadequate natural drainage relief that causes riverine flooding and overall poor draining) and location (in the lower coastal region, it is more susceptible to sea level rise and storm surges).
Keeping resilience in mind
The ADB-backed Kolkata Program has the potential to significantly change the city for the better as it addresses the city’s urban and climate challenges. Minister-In-Charge of Environment, Housing, and Fire Safety of State Government of West Bengal and the Mayor of Kolkata Sovan Chatterjee expressed his appreciation of ADB’s assistance, particularly for its effectiveness, quality, and time bound implementation framework.
He mentioned that ADB’s two decades of partnership with KMC have been exemplary in delivering better municipal services, like improved sewerage and drainage systems, for citizens through long-term planning and timely execution of infrastructure projects. A similar approach is being adopted for water supply and solid waste management under KEIIP through preparation of master plans followed by preparation of detailed project reports.
Joint Secretary Khare added that KMC is setting an example for other municipalities in India thanks to the timely implementation of KEIIP. He assured the Government of India’s continued support for KMC to provide safe and sustainable continuous water and sanitation services for its people. INRM Country Director Yokoyama likewise commended the city’s efforts and long-term plans to provide efficient municipal services.