Surat’s resilience rests on our people and our ability to live well in good times and bounce back stronger than ever from the inevitable hard times.
Developed with input and insights from the people of Surat, the Resilience Strategy is designed to articulate solutions that make our city more resilient not only to physical challenges, such as floods and aging infrastructure, but also to social challenges, such as cohesion and urban health. Surat’s Resilience Strategy is the launch point for several programs that foster these connections and partnerships. These programs will enable community-based organizations to serve as hosts for training and conduits to services that are tailored to meet the needs of people. These programs are an example of what the practice of resilience looks like—it addresses more than one challenge at once and creates multiple benefits for many people.
Implement an efficient traffic management system and move towards ensuring an adequate public transport system.
Surat is one of the fastest growing cities in India. In the last few years, with changing lifestyles, the number of vehicles has grown tremendously in the city. Coupled with high growth of private vehicles, an inefficient public transport system, inadequate parking facilities, and lack of pedestrian facilities, encroachments on footpaths and road margins, informal activities, and small-time business activities along the major corridors have increased traffic congestion in Surat.
To build resilience, the city’s efforts will include the following areas:
- Implement an efficient traffic management system and move towards ensuring an adequate public transport system
- Several research studies are necessary to identify the scale of interventions required. These include increasing public parking and pedestrian facilities, improving junctions and rail crossings, and provisioning traffic signals and lane separators to segregate traffic
- An effective enforcement mechanism by the traffic police to enforce smooth traffic flow in the city
Improve outlook and maintenance of affordable housing, and use engineering and technology to better provide it.
The city of Surat has rapidly grown since the 1960s in terms of population as well as industry, thus placing a concomitant pressure on resources. The city has also expanded over time, leading to a growth in slums, many of which are located along the tidal creeks, between river embankments and other drainage lines. These slums face a higher risk of flooding (pluvial, fluvial, and tidal). With an increase in the city limit and development of new zones, a boom has been observed in the real estate market. This has increased the land values in some areas, making it unaffordable for all classes. This has caused a gap between demand and supply, leaving about 90 percent of houses in the newly developed areas unoccupied.
Emerging issues for Surat also include a rise in migration, lack of affordable housing for urban poor, unregulated and speculative land and real estate market, and less availability of land within the corporation area for affordable housing.
To build resilience, the city will take the following actions:
- Conduct an assesment of housing demand
- Audit affordable localities where public services, utilities and amenities are affordable
- Promote innovative housing finance opportunities
- Develop rent-ready programs connecting landlords and renters to support and assist migrants
- Use innovative building techniques to construct affordable houses in the city
- Adapt green, blue, white, and black building techniques for low energy consumption and cost
With a growing population, Surat must act to meet future water demand.
Water needs of the city residents are currently being managed by the SMC. Tapi, a perennial river, is a major source of water supply. However, the river’s water quality is deteriorating. Due to pollution outside of the city, the city must also find alternative sources of water and new water storage solutions. Water supply is also intermittent, with an average duration of three hours per day. In addition, the effects of climate change may worsen water availability, and new conservation methods must be planned.
To meet the rising demand from a growing population, Surat will pursue mulitiple water supply infrastructure projects. These efforts include:
- Conducting research and aquifer mapping of groundwater levels and quality through Surat
- Monitoring water supply to detect freshwater theft and waste within the supply network
- Promoting environmental responsibility and stewardship to Surat residents
- Strengthening community risk management and risk reduction through risk awareness centers
- Enforcing pollution control guidelines
- Implementation of rainwater harvesting
- Adapting innovation technology, anerobic for wastewater treatment, and develop options to encourage citizens to reuse wastewater
- Adapting indigenous techniques for filtration of stormwater and groundwater recharge
- Develop digital infrastructure for monitoring water demand and supply
- Implement urban design and landscape interventions for increased permeability, reduced runoff, and facilitation of groundwater recharge
Diversify Surat's industry and develop skills to strengthen the city's economy.
The current economy of Surat is dominated by diamond cutting, textiles, gold thread making, dyeing, and printing industries that cater to both domestic markets and exports. Diamond cutting and polishing, however, mainly cater to the export market. The medium- and large-scale industries are mostly located in the five industrial estates in and around the city.
The economy of Surat is heavily dependent on two dominant sectors, two income generators are dependent on global markets and economy. Recession in these two sectors has a significant impact on the economy of the city. Thus, the city should invite different alternative industrial sectors, such as technology, automobile, tourism, food industry, etc.,as backup livelihood providers in case of economic crisis. In addition, there is no comprehensive and organized framework for skill upgradation in the city.
To build resilience, Surat will prioritize the following actions:
- Promoting and supporting innovative business enterprises using information, communication, and technology
- Promoting and supporting micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises
- Promoting and supporting women entrepreneurs and start-up businesses by offering business counseling, training, and access to finance
- Establishing a center of excellence and incubation center to conduct R&D for diverse business opportunities and skill development
Growth in industry and population density threatens to harm Surat's natural ecosystem and its people.
Situated on the banks of the river Tapi, in close proximity to the Arabian Sea, Surat has a sensitive ecosystem. Industrial growth, and high population growth and density place pressure on the ecosystem of Surat. The two important tasks to be attended in Surat are: implementation of environmental policies such as Coastal Regulation Zones; and enforcement of laws in industrial areas.
There is a need for more green spaces to be developed and maintained. The Tapi is depleting due to rapid siltation and development activities taking place along both sides of the river. Pollution level checks should be carried out on a regular/frequent basis. The environmental cell should be active and efficient in monitoring air, sound, land, and water pollution throughout the city.
The city of Surat is prioritizing the following actions:
- Monitoring the impacts of climate change trends, and integrating with multi-hazard risk assessment and mapping for the city
- Reviewing environmental and industrial policies to inform better enforcement and environmental regulation
- Generating awareness among citizens about the city’s strengths and assets, and its conservation practices and use of renewable energy in all sectors
- Engaging citizens and encourage participation their participation to keep the city clean and generate awareness for waste segregation, water pollution, and reuse at home
- Conducting pollution audits in industrial areas and regular vehicular pollution emission checks at key locations
- Enforcing green building concepts in upcoming residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings
- Implementing rainwater harvesting in various buildings in the city
- Implementing innovative urban design, such as green street furniture to provide green cover and installing solar rooftop systems
A city vulnerable to floods and other challenges must have strong social capital.
The growth in Surat’s population is driven by a combination of factors, including natural growth and in-migration. Surat’s claim as a zero-unemployment city has attracted rural migrants from within the state (Saurashtra and arid northern parts) and other states (especially Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Orissa).
In spite of a fast-paced life, social cohesion and mutual support are quite high among the Surtis (that is, people of Surat). Social networks are strong among most communities, especially those from the arid and semi-arid zones of Gujarat. Research has shown that higher social capacity indices are observed in middle and upper SECs compared to lower SECs and slum dwellers, which are dominated by a diverse immigrant population.
For a city that is under a constant risk of floods and other hydro-meteorological disasters, strong social capital is an asset. Therefore, strengthening social capacities, especially among migrants, will be necessary to enable people in lower SECs to build resilience through better coordination and mutual support.
Unfortunately, the NGO and microfinance coverage in Surat is limited compared to many other Indian cities. Therefore, other avenues to build social cohesion have to be explored.
The city plans to take action in the following ways:
- Developing a research profile/portfolio on social issues and cohesion aspects by academic and research institutions in the city
- Assesing existing public open spaces and developing a public open space strategy and guidelines for the city
- Establishing a center for cultural resources, visual arts, and community resilience
- Restoring and redeveloping the heritage and cultural landmarks of the city
Support healthier citizens to create a healthier city
Public health is a major concern for a tropical city such as Surat. Located in a nearly flat coastal terrain, Surat was once infamous for vector- and water-borne diseases. The seasonality of vector-borne diseases is likely to change, and the disease transmission period is likely to expand, due to increases in temperatures and changes in the humid seasons.
Many health sector studies raise concerns on the changes in vector propagation and recommend conducting continued action research on climate and vector-borne diseases. This is especially important since this region is a malaria-endemic area and faces recurrent outbreaks of leptospirosis. Location, climate, and socio-demographic structure, coupled with the developmental activities of the city, are high risk factors for the breeding of vectors, as well as their ability to survive and spread infections.
To build resilience, the city is taking actions in the following ways:
- Establishing a Center of Excellence for Urban Health and Climate Change, which will conduct actionable research for urban health and climate change trends
- Developing urban health and climate change information systems to monitor health care scenarios and climate trends
- Establishing training and capacity building, set up under the Urban Health and Climate Change Promotional Center for skills development