Could BBMP’s new climate action plan for Bengaluru restore India's ‘Garden City’ to its former glory?

Could BBMP’s new climate action plan for Bengaluru restore India's ‘Garden City’ to its former glory?
Sprawling with lush trees and a constant freshening breeze, Bengaluru certainly lived up to its title as the 'Garden City of India' at one point. But with a rampant boom in urbanisation, conditions gradually began to take a turn for the sour some 2-3 decades ago.

While Bengaluru boasts some of the most impressive modern infrastructure found anywhere in the country, 'Garden City' almost feels like a misnomer for India's start-up capital now. Being one of the fastest-growing cities in India, the city continues to battle a host of problems, ranging from stupendously heavy traffic, growing air pollution, surface flooding and recurring groundwater shortages.

In addition, Bengaluru is a major victim of the 'urban heat island' effect, a problem created when the built-up environment replaces crucial green cover. This leads to a significant increase in temperatures in the urban regions compared to its neighbouring rural sectors. According to a 2010 IISc study, Bengaluru lost nearly 80% of its vegetative cover and water bodies in a mere decade, leading to a spike in temperatures by 2-2.5°C.

Bengaluru receives its own net-zero plan

With COP28 currently underway, nearly 200 nations are gathered to come to a consensus around how they plan to cut off emissions to save the dying planet. In the run up to the summit, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) — Bengaluru's main civic administrative body — has launched their own roadmap towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Termed the Bengaluru Climate Action and Resilience Plan (BCAP), the city-level action plan tackles the problem of keeping the city liveable, despite the unprecedented growth it continues to experience. For context, Bengaluru's built footprint has nearly doubled in the mere 25 years between 1990 and 2015.


This urban expansion has also invariably spiked the amount of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions the city spews into the atmosphere. According to the report, Bapuji Nagar, Jayanagar 5th Block and Peenya cross the daily CPCB permissible limits for PM2.5 (the most dangerous type of air pollutant) for more than a third of year. By 2050, PM2.5 levels are further projected to climb to levels exceeding nine times what WHO considers safe.

What can we expect from the action plan?

BCAP seeks to reduce GHG emissions by 16% by 2030, 26% by 2040, and finally by 56% by 2050, compared to 2019 levels. These will be achieved by pertinent climate action in seven sectors, namely Energy and Buildings; Transportation; Solid Waste; Air Quality; Water, Wastewater and Stormwater; Urban Planning, Greening and Biodiversity and Disaster Management.

Fortunately, rather than serving as unscientific greenwashing gift-wrapped around empty climate promises, the report also lays down research-backed specific numbers to tangibly accomplish the goals, courtesy of their collaboration with the World Resources Institute and a host of other organisations. For example, it notes that the city will work towards achieving an ambitious 100% transition from solid fuels to clean cooking fuels by 2030.

And the figures don't end there, either. Among a slew of targets, the report promises to power 90% of cars and motorcycles and 75% of the city's buses with cleaner fuels by 2050, achieve 100% waste segregation by 2025, accomplish a 30% reduction in PM2.5 concentration by 2026, and change 75% of city's footpaths to be of water permeable materials by 2040. The list goes on, and all that's left to see is how exactly these become implemented in the real world.

Additionally, BBMP also launched the #BluGreenUru initiative on November 27. The campaign calls upon citizens, organisations, welfare associations, private sector and government authorities to help conserve, restore and integrate the city's green spaces and water networks. As mentioned earlier, these are links of Bengaluru's ecosystem that have continued to suffer tremendously over the past few decades.

The fact that Bengaluru's civic body has seemed to reinvigorate science-based policy decision-making into the forefront of their climate action plans is promising. However, the elephant in the room still remains that the action plan has still set 2050 as its net-zero target year, two decades after what most climate experts deem acceptable. Whether we will be able to accelerate progress on these fronts over the next few crucial years will, no doubt, be instrumental in determining how liveable Bengaluru fares in the next decade or so.

The BCAP report can be accessed from this link.