The World over, corporates and politicians have used the bogey of financial crisis and slow economic growth to push wrong agendas, where the Planet and the People have always suffered to Profit a few. Be it building Dams & Bridges, decimating forest and sea-bed, GM food or Nuclear Power, limited understanding and short-term success have historically given way to disaster. It is time to pause and not give in to pressures and the bogey of economic collapse. And it is specially true for India. Because as an emerging Nation we can use our collective intellect and find new avenues of economic prosperity. Why can we not create our own indices of growth and innovate ?
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the state government will urge prime minister Manmohan Singh to scrap a notification which has restricted high-rises and “stopped real estate activity” in the city. Speaking at a function to inaugurate the LBS Road flyover constructed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) on Friday, Chavan said the notification issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) said high-rises in the country can only be built along roads which were wider than 30m. “In Mumbai, there are only two such roads,” Chavan said. He said this had “stopped real estate activity in Mumbai” Chavan said while everyone was worried about the repercussions of the global financial crisis on the country, with an impact of the slowdown being evident in many sectors, it was necessary for Mumbai to grow economically as it was the economic capital of the country. “If the country has to weather this (crisis), then Mumbai has to be the engine of growth… So, Mumbai’s infrastructure must be world class,” he added.
While, no one can deny the need for economic boost and given the high-carbon “chakravyuh” (see definition) we have bound our modern civilization to, without destroying the ecosystem in some form or other, Humans can’t progress. Even towards the ideal low-carbon life-style we all strive for. However, it would be folly to find quick fix or half baked solutions,which would not only add to Climate Change but the effort would in itself be counter-productive, thus leading to a spiralling situations of throwing more effort and precious resources to correct the bad.
Reading further into other related News in the DNA paper one finds – The opening of Kurla flyover will clog the entire Kurla station area as the bridge narrows down to two-lane road on its either side. Residents said the flyover that was opened is originally a part of the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR) and should have been elevated.
It does not need a rocket scientist to understand that taking wrong decisions would only lead towards disasters and difficulty for the common person.It is easy for an orator to sway the people in thinking that the recommendations and laws are for the common good, while the truth is completely different. Had it not been so, towns/ villages just 100 KM from our great cities would not be still lacking basic amenities.
The MoEF’s recommendation to disallow any high rise on roads less than 30m was not taken by the officials on whim & fancy. Environmental matters are complex. The cause and effects of an environmental disaster are always long term. Flash point do not occur in the blink of an eye, but builds over time which can’t be understood by the common person. And never by those whose sole goal is self preservation.
Let us focus on the article at hand. For Mumbai to grow, we need to build high rises and give into the demands of the builders. While it is absolutely true that the building industry is the single largest consumer of all the industrial sectors and its growth would indeed help boost the economy, I would disagree to the argument that by discarding the MoEF laws we would be doing a service to the Nation and the Planet .
Using many of my previous articles as continuity and support to this article, such as –
I have covered as simply as possible the ways we can develop our country, especially the Building and construction sector including briefly touching on the subject of Water & Food, without which there would be no cities. And continuing from there I would like to state that we need pragmatic thoughts to truly make our India a strong and Green Nation. And therefore sharing a few thoughts which I hope, the experts and the influential would find some spark with which they can create a truly brilliant idea to move this Nation forward.
1. It has been stated by some experts that reserved land by MADHA and the Port Trust of Mumbai should be freed. I disagree, instead with strong laws we must completely make over the dilapidated areas of the old city. With strong laws, which does not allow for any protest, equitable distribution of space must be allocated to those who are presently residing while making room for more.
For example a proper town plan be made, and as per the design allocate the plots to existing and new citizens. Irrespective of the size of the earlier tenements all would get plots or flats as per the master plan. Any legally valid extra space which would have been the property of a citizen in the old town, must then get converted into bonds and handed to the rightful owner. Which they can in-cash in buying property in other part of the city by the same builder or simply have that converted into cash.
This will enable builders and planners to have the required town planning laws in place, have more 30 meter wide roads to build high-rises alongside open spaces which is for safety & extremely vital to allow percolation of rain-water which would increase the water table. Because with development density the most important factor would be the requirement of water, which is already scarce. I have tried to capture the grim prospect of water in Green Business Ideas – Sell water at the price of petrol – and reap the ‘fringe’ benefits. but I know that I’m not even close to the serious situation this one subject demands.
2. The present FSI / TDR laws must be revamped as many seek but, with impetus given to grant higher FSI only in the satellite city of Navi Mumbai and the likes of tier II cities such as Nashik, Sholapur and Ahemadnagar etc, with great planning and speedy approval of rapid transit systems. While the transit systems would take time to develop to the world-class standards, given the vote bank politics, cumbersome and archaic laws and simple lethargy and ignorance of ground realities within various government departments; we can definitely take the IT industry, in which we are the world leaders to the next level.
In the article VoIP – “Skype” the new medium to reduce Global Warming ? the concept which I had suggested is already a hit in the UNFCCC and even the Climate Group responded by providing me an article which shows the use of VoIP to have a 5 Nation meet, pre Rio+20 summit. Saving huge amount of GHG emission and hard currency.
If we are truly in the 21st century then why do we everyday travel to and fro from place of work to home and vice versa, especially those who have a desk job? Imagine developing gated townships which would by default have a business / convention centre and the residents of the township need to travel just that distance ( by bi-cycle preferably or walking ) and link up to their HQ offices?
Various distinct benefits can be derived – A] Smaller HQ office, this saves a lot of money for the company. B] Cheaper office spaces in the satellite townships. C] Better retention of talent who otherwise would find the commute difficult and accommodation within the Megalopolis unaffordable. D] Less traffic and pollution.
To give this idea a boost, the government both the state and centre should come up with laws and incentives which encourage these developments. In fact the LEED & GRIHA green building rating system should incorporate these suggestions as credit points, which on achieving or attempting to achieve by the developer/builder,would open various incentives by the State & Centre. And they need not be directly monetary in nature.
3. The incentives which are actually required are already accepted recommendation at the centre. On January 7th 2010 at New Delhi during a stake holder meet initiated by GRIHA & MNRE the suggestion to have a single window clearance for all Green Building 3-star to 5 star or Silver to Platinum LEED rated building should be 3 months maximum was accepted, this kind of acts can reduce the cost to builders a great extent. However, we do not see much traction at this end. Even the announcement of the then MoEF minister of preferential clearances for Green projects have not found much favour. And there are multiple reasons for that. The economic downturn, unfavourable land use policies and the most important, rampant corruption, which does not let good thing come to pass. Here again, if the public and private sector do rise up to innovation a lot of transparency can happen.
Single window clearance can’t be denied if the developer has been able to fix his designs and plans in accordance to all laws and developed the complete project in 3D and express it in the virtual reality. In the article Green Business Ideas : Virtual World Design can save the real world losses.an attempt has been made to show that how already existing practice can be taken to the next level of innovation and perhaps with active participation of ideas from experts the 3P agenda can truly be achieved :- Planet – People – Profit.
4. Regulation and control where it is most required must be put and decontrol of building materials like cement/steel with a minimum and maximum price band must be put in place. No free market run, when it comes to development of the cities of India. As for the revamping of the megalopolis, as I have mentioned in my earlier article land prices too must have a cap. An upper limit and a lower limit for plots in different locations must be fixed and that can’t be crossed by law. More on this idea is mentioned in Affordable Housing: The Simples rules required.This would make a level playing field for cost-effective construction and affordable housing. In the flip side the good developers would themselves create sustainable buildings thus a Sustainable city would take shape.
Let all of us understand, and the layman more so, that a building life-span is a minimum 50 years. A bad infrastructure & town-planning today would make the suffering of the citizens last for 50 more years, are we ready for that ?
- Green buildings gain momentum in India (eco-business.com)
- As drought looms in India, fear for its cattle (news.terra.com)
- Finally, its raining! (ashaseth.wordpress.com)