The Ministry of Jal Shakti, Govt. of India in partnership with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Govt. of India launched the River Cities Alliance (RCA) on 25 November, 2021. The Alliance was launched by Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Sh. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who stated that the RCA is a platform for member cities to learn from each other’s successes and failures as well as connect people with the rivers.
Sunita Narain, Director-General, CSE delivered the key-note address at the launch, sharing that “the River Cities Alliance is a culmination of 3 years of efforts for river sensitive development of our cities, and that we need to embrace our rivers and not turn our backs on it anymore.” Other dignitaries on the dice include Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA; Pankaj Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti; Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG); Mr Hitesh Vaidya, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and Ashok Kumar Singh, Executive Director (Projects), NMCG. They launched the RCA video and the Urban River Management Plan for Kanpur City.
The secretariat of Alliance is set up at NIUA with support from NMCG, Ministry of Jal Shakti. CSE is the lead partner to build capacities of state / municipal functionaries as well as other actors, and support cities prepare action plans to develop and implement Water-Sensitive Urban Design and Planning (WSUDP) across India and in particular the RCA Cities.
A total of 30 cities from across India forms the RCA; these are Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Srinagar, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Munger, Patna, Berhampore, Hooghly-Chinsurah, Howrah, Jangipur, Maheshtala, Rajmahal, Sahibganj, Ayodhya, Bijnor, Farrukhabad, Kanpur, Mathura-Vrindavan, Mirzapur, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Aurangabad, Chennai, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Pune, Udaipur and Vijayawada.Municipal Commissioners of all these cities signed the declaration to be a part of RCA and work towards development of Urban River Management Plan and water-sensitive urban design and planning.
During the day, three sessions were also conducted. In the first session, discussion pertained to ‘Operationalizing the River Cities Alliance’ which included a presentation on Urban River Plan Management of Kanpur, that was followed by a moderated discussion with Commissioners/Executive Officers of the 30 member cities.
The second session was a Roundtable Discussion on ‘Holistic Urban River Management’ between Dr Suresh Rohilla, CSE; Mr. Suresh Babu, WWF; Dr. Madhu Verma, WRI-India; and Mr. Manu Bhatnagar, INTACH. The third session focused on ‘Forging Synergies for the River Cities Alliance’ which comprised of a panel discussion with Ms. Sonia Chand Sandhu, ADB; Ms. Manasi Sachdev, UN-Habitat; Ms. Anitha Sharma, Embassy of Denmark; and Ms. Martina Burkard (GIZ). CSE also displayed a panel at the launch, which provided information of the CSE-NMCG initiative for making Ganga-basin cities water-sensitive, along with various research and advocacy outputs developed by CSE.
RCA is a dedicated platform for river cities in India to ideate, discuss and exchange information for sustainable management of urban rivers. The Alliance will focus on three broad themes- Networking, Capacity Building and Technical Support.The platform is aimed at exchange information on aspects that are vital for sustainable management of urban rivers such as minimizing their water footprint, reducing impacts on river and water bodies, capitalizing on natural, intangible, architectural heritage and associated services and develop self-sufficient, self-sustainable water resources through recycle, reuse strategy.
The Alliance cities will work towards adopting and localizing national policies and instruments with key river-related directions, prepare their Urban River Management Plans and develop city-specific sectoral strategies that are required for sustainable urban river management.
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Programme Officer, Water Unit