Is India Aiming for Urban Sustainability?
Published 27th October 2010 - 10 comments - 6763 views -
India moving rapidly along its growth – development axis is faced with rising urbanization and growing pressure on resources especially in its urban areas. The ‘National Mission on Sustainable Habitat’ has enumerated specific steps to integrate comprehensive urban planning and sustainability concerns.
Need for Urban Sustainability
India began city planning and urbanization early- almost 4,500 years back, with the Indus valley Civilisation. The cities of Mohen jo Daro and Harappa were amongst the world’s earliest and most unique examples of urban design. In modern India however, development has somehow not kept pace with the growth of towns and cities. The size and vulnerability of informal settlements, generally built in fragile areas, such as coastal zones, flood-prone plains and ravines, and geologically unstable slopes, greatly increases their vulnerability to climate change.
To address these issues in cities, Govt. of India recently approved the “National mission on Sustainable Habitat” as one of the eight missions announced as part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). The Mission promotes energy efficiency as an integral component of urban planning and urban renewal through application of Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), Urban Waste Management and Sustainable Transport system. To achieve the Mission on Sustainable Habitat, the need of the hour is sustainable development of urban areas.
Background to urban development in India
The number of people living in urban centres continues to grow, as India’s rate of urbanization gallops at roughly 31%. According to the India-Urban Poverty Report 2009 , the absolute number of people in urban cities and towns has gone up substantially. The rapid pace of urbanization and the resultant increases in populations has also significantly increased the overall vulnerability of urban areas to dangers of climate change. There are major challenges: from livelihoods to access to sanitation and health facilities, issues related to water and energy, civic amenities, waste disposal, growth of slums and the inadequate resources available with the municipalities.
Actions taken for Urban Sustainability
To address the issues and challenges posed by such rapid urbanization and to work towards a sustainable habitat, Government of India as also several state governments have initiated several state level and national level programmes. Some of the key ones are listed below:
Energy efficiency measures
- Energy labelling programme for appliances launched in 2006 by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)
- Promotion of Energy saving devices like CFLs, through “Bachat Lamp Yojana” and Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits.
- Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) 2007 which addresses the design of new, large commercial buildings to optimize the buildings' energy demand by BEE
- Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources (MNRE) Solar buildings program which provides incentives to energy efficient buildings
- National Green Building Rating System through ‘Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA)’ model
- Haryana state government has notified several energy efficiency measures e.g: use of Solar Water Heating, CFLs in public buildings, construction of energy efficient buildings
- Himachal Pradesh has mandated solar passive concepts in public/govt. buildings
- Thane municipality has done exemplary work on street lighting, incorporation of SWH in buildings , bio-methanation
- Tariff incentives in West Bengal ,Karnataka, Rajasthan on use of renewable energy
Urban Waste Management Measures
- Public Private Partnership (PPP) models for urban waste management in some cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad etc have helped these cities to successfully implement waste management interventions
- The National Environmental Policy 2006, provides implementing viable options for PPP for operation of hazardous and non-hazardous waste disposal activities
Modal shift to Public Transport
- National urban transport policy has specific emphasis on extensive public transport through Metro Rail Transport in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Metro Bus project in Bangalore etc
- Maharashtra state government announcement of congestion tax to discourage use of private cars in cities
Apart from the above mentioned government initiatives; several voluntary initiatives have been rolled out in collaboration with international organisations to support and promote sustainable habitat. Some of these are:
- US Green rating initiative (LEED) being implemented in India by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) led Indian Green Business Centre (IGBC) through which several buildings across the country have been rated.
- Global program on energy efficiency through building retrofits. There are about 40 participating cities across the world including Delhi and Mumbai from India.
- Eco Housing in Pune, a joint program of Pune Municipal Corporation and USAID
- Environmental building guidelines & regulations for Hyderabad, an initiative by Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) and The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI). 38 Building regulations and guidelines have been developed for addressing the issues of energy efficiency, urban waste management, water & waste water management, urban mobility etc
- Environmental building guidelines and regulations for achieving energy efficiency in Bangalore by TERI, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) supported by REEEP, Vienna. A set of 9 guidelines have been developed and the same are now integrated in the building by-laws of Bangalore under this project to achieve energy efficiency.
- Asia Pacific Partnership Project on clean development and climate – Under this initiative, TERI and BEE have collaborated with the US Dept. of State to propose a design framework for“High Performance commercial buildings in India” . The project findings are being integrated into the building by-laws of Haryana, Kolkata, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Shimla.
- "Integrated solar city” being developed in Gujarat by Clinton Foundation and Govt. of Gujarat.
- Eco-city project by German technical Cooperation (GTZ), Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) which has tried to comprehensively address all the issues of urban sustainability under one umbrella.
Though the above mentioned projects, programmes and initiatives help partly in achieving the goals of the Mission on sustainable habitat, they still don’t address the issues of urban sustainability holistically. So, there is a need for integrated development of urban sustainability programme which addresses all the issues of energy efficiency, urban waste management and modal shift as enumerated in the National Mission.
Rather than hurdling ahead with unmanageable growth, that are cost-effective ways that are easy to maintain and also suit the local character, during modernisation and capacity building of the municipalities. Despite national decentralization programmes and the inclusion of good governance principles in national policies and strategies, India does not appositely consider local governments as important partners in the articulation of action plans. The local governments especially at the municipal and community level should work out strategies that can be implemented effectively at the grass root level.
While planning for an Urban Sustainable city, several aspects like migration, waste management, mobility, health, education and sanitation that are connected at the core to urban planning need to be considered. It is critical to analyse proper urban planning and Urban Sustainability with regards to Vulnerability and risk assessment. The success of the urban sustainability depends mainly on good governance and inclusive development with appropriate funding mechanism in place. Good practices have to be studied and replicated through integrated mechanism for creating sustainable cities at the local level. A joint effort by the governments, civil society and the private sector and an impartial political interest with a national vision only can save the urban centres of India from the challenges associated with climate change and population impact.
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