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Green Business Ideas: the missing LEED/GRIHA credits can help boost economy worldwide.


 

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 ?

Quoting a few paras form the DNA News paper

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 –

Green Townships.;Sustainable Cities – Why town planning is important.

Green Business Ideas: Carbon Credits opportunities in Green Townships.

Urban Development Rules: How C40 -City rules can make a difference for India.

Green Business Ideas : P.M.Manmohan Singh’s idea of Terminal Market Complex is a superb Green Idea which needs to be implemented

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 ?

 

 

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The Last Tree Standing – the story of human “development”


For whom the bell tolls ? The last Tree standing proud and strong in the suburban Mumbai street or Mankind ?

The whole of last week, the DNA  newspaper had stories, which would seem completely dis-jointed from one another, but if you look at it from the prism of Sustainable Living they all are, but indicators of doom which we as People are heading towards. Let me start with links of some headlines which show the maximum indicators of the rot that has crept into human civilization.  The links are from random dates, but I have tried to set them in an order, which I’m sure that those who follow sustainable living would find the logic  and the irony therein. And those who are new into this are welcome to my analysis –

Tree obstructing traffic flow all set to go: In the wake of a DNA report, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has initiated action to remove a huge tree located in the middle of busy Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) Marg in Ghatkopar. Following the report about the tree proving to be an obstacle for scores of motorists taking the road (published on May 24), the BMC had issued a 10-day notice on July 7, inviting suggestions and objections from residents over the removal of the tree. However, till Monday, the local N Ward office did not receive any suggestions or objections.

Still in the wild on rehabilitation: It’s been more than 15 years that the Bombay high court ordered relocation of all illegal settlements inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) to accommodations outside park limits. The forest department, however, has failed to rehabilitate even half of the eligible settlers …..

Man-animal conflict unlikely to end soon: It will take at least three years to completely check the man-animal conflict at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). Measures such as construction of a boundary wall, rehabilitation of park inmates and establishment of an Eco-sensitive zone to control development at the periphery will not be in place in the next couple of years.  According to data from the forest department, the SGNP has a 92km boundary, of which, 22 will not require fencing due to the naturally formed buffer areas. The fencing of the rest 70km will be done in two phases. Phase one, which is in progress since 2009, 40km boundary is being fenced….

Centre sits on Gadgil report, draws HC ire: The Bombay high court on Tuesday rapped the government for failing to take a decision on the report submitted by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel headed by Dr Madhav Gadgil…The panel has made recommendations on conserving and preserving ecologically sensitive areas within the Sahyadri range.

If scanty rain continues, state may cry drought: The Maharashtra government is ready to declare drought following scarce rainfall across the state so far. “There is no doubt that there will be drought this year,” said a top government source…

Cloud seeding answer to water woes:Worried about the low water levels in the lakes, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is considering cloud seeding in catchment areas in next month as an option. However, a similar experiment carried out by the BMC in 2009 with an expenditure of over Rs 8 crore yielded no results…

Plan ready to deal with deficient rain; Pawar: The country faces challenges in sustaining record food grain harvests as a 22 percent deficit in monsoon rain threatens planting, Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said here on Monday. He, however, added that India — the world’s second-biggest rice, wheat and sugar producer — has not reached drought situation and the government is ready with contingency plan to deal with deficient monsoon.

17cr prayer for rain! : Halfway through July, monsoon rains continue to cause concern, with sowing of pulses and rice behind schedule and rainfall still below average for this time of the year –REUTERS …Karnataka muzrai minister Kota Srinivas Poojari is a worried man. The monsoon sky – alternating between grey and blue, but shedding very little rain – has got him worried. But while most of us can do nothing except wait for the rain, the minister, it seems, decided that he has had enough. Poojari is not going to sit idle and twiddle his thumbs any longer. The minister has decided to intervene. How? He has decided to placate rain God Varuna. Karnataka minister leads initiative to hold special puja at 34,000 temples across the state!

Will interlinking of rivers contain floods? : The delay in implementing a plan drawn out by the engineers of the National Water Development Authority (NWDA) has led to the loss of 125 lives in Assam in the recent floods, experts said. The floods caused by the Brahmaputra could have been avoided, had the authorities interlinked the Brahmaputra with the Ganga, said engineer MS Menon and Madhav Chitale, former water resources secretary to the Union government.

Many Moons ago in my anguish I had mentioned – Killing is not a crime,only Murder is;The difficulty of preaching Sustainable Living.

And perhaps the image of the sole tree standing between a widened road, which would be killed ( chopped down) is a cause for glee, as more GHG producing Vehicles can ply without any obstruction, thus  help speed up the process of Oblivion for Mankind !

As one would read, not a single person has come forward to suggest ways to try and save the tree, perhaps by relocating it. All need to read: “Mature Tree Transplanting: A Growing Trend” – ….Amazingly, through the use of carefully executed transplanting techniques, fully grown trees of almost any specie or size can be successfully integrated into the residential or commercial landscape.

One would wonder, what is one tree ? In the natural progression to “development” civilisation has always laid waste the Ecosystem. So what’s the big deal ?

Just look where that high-carbon life-style is leading us, the same news paper screams in its various headlines the scarcity of Water & Food ! Without which the basic foundations of our modern-life comes to a standstill.

Yet, our governments and leaders are in a state of confusion; so much so that to cover their utter lack of understanding of the matter, they  seek divine intervention !  The unholy part being the 17crore would be the foolish tax-payers money. But then we had it coming, its the responsibility of WE, the collective; who still want to remain in deep slumber while the tide of Climate change and Global Warming rises above the nose. How long should the Earth tolerate the myopic self- aggrandized thoughts of Mankind before making its last move of eradicating the menace ?

That the collective citizens (of the world), still can’t connect between the falling apart of the man-made infrastructure and chopping down and denudation of the ecosystem in the most unsustainable manner possible; can be gauged by the news below on the decision taken  by the Assembly ( which is but a manifestation of the same collective )  to continue with GHG intensive Thermal power, instead of finding long term solution of balancing the Eco-system which loses its forest cover  vital for the monsoon cycle to both open cast coal mines and hydro-dams which completely submerges the forest cover;  to sustain completely unsustainable present day Urban sprawl!

Scant rain may cut Tata’s power output: If the monsoon’s scanty performance continues without indicating any possibility of a turnaround in the near future, the Tata Power Company (TPC) will be forced to stop the power generation. Announcing the government decision in the state assembly on Tuesday, deputy chief and energy minister Ajit Pawar said, “While Pune may be hit by the decision, Mumbai won’t face any power shortage as its supply is sourced from power generated by thermal plants.

Nowhere, the  confused nature of mankind is more prominent than in an advertisement by a pump making company; which thinks it’s environmental friendly to shift complete lakes and drown nearby forest which have taken aeons to develop; to sell its product. And make its mark in the sands of time, it would be most happy to help link rivers; without even understanding the ecological impact it would have.  And many such corporation, either without meaning to or knowingly join hands with Politicians to seed the minds of the Citizens in accepting the idea that their owes can be solved by linking of rivers and there arguments would be that they have been following the experts.  An ‘expert’ in a single subject can not understand the complexity of the Ecosystem. Therefore such decisions should have a cross-section of experts from all related fields. The same idea has been run down by many and mentioned by me in this article India to connect all its Rivers

Without the citizens understanding the true meaning of sustainable living and practicing and preaching it, the World which we know and love, the life-style we live in and want to bequeath to our children would be lost.

We must understand the markers of decay and destruction, our unsustainable life-style is causing. And for that, not all need to attend the expert meet at the various United Nation forum but make the effort to change, from being just a literate who can read a News paper to educated who can deduce the situation from the facts drawn out in them.

Each of the News articles show, the dire situation and the almost bursting at the seams situation of Megalopolises in our Country and perhaps similar would be the tales around the World.

Yet we are refusing to learn, to correct past errors. We continue to develop in a lopsided manner, while there is an urgent need  for a thorough study to understand what would be the actual impact of the said “development” holistically. Here we must bring in the thoughts enshrined in the 2012 Inclusive Wealth Report and the Sustainable Development Goals. One must also bear in mind that while we have divided the World into multiple Nations, the Earth is just one globe. So cause in one end would in time show its effect in another. Therefore when we develop  fragile ecosystem we must understand what would that development bring. “Prosperity” can not be in isolation – say   a polythene bag manufacturer may prosper when newer areas are touched by rail, but the resultant discarding of these non bio-degradable product can have a telling effect on the Ecosystem, which was pristine before the rail road was built on it.

Environmental rules are not being used, where it is needed most and in the proper spirit. So that development happens with least harm to the Ecosystem. Man has not learnt to live a Zero-Carbon foot print; perhaps this is to do with our being more intelligent than the other species which inhabit this Earth and have naturally perfected it ! Therefore one must be careful in developing newer areas when existing facilities can always be upgraded thus limiting the harm to the Environment. Cost must be measured as a sum -total of all, here again the need of a panel of experts from diverse field who can see matters from a completely different perspective is most important.

Citizens of the World have been led mostly by a few. The Orator & the Warrior both these breed rose into prominence because they almost always had the most to lose, an orator also would be a Merchant and a warrior could be a King! That they would put self before others is but good business & politics. To be led by a group of few, would always remain true for mankind, but for its very survival its time to look beyond the obvious, lest we are led downhill by those who lead.

Once one of our honorable Chief Minister of the state of Maharashtra had famously said that his governance would change the City of Mumbai to another Shanghai.

The wind smells of change and more …: Shanghai: When the wind blows in one Shanghai suburb, residents can smell the stench rising from a towering garbage dump, feared to be so harmful it can make people vomit and cause birth defects. Now residents of Songjiang district are raising a stink about the future of the landfill, one of a series of recent protests across China as people hold the government more accountable for health and environmental problems…..

The World is indeed a small place and the problems of the modern man is the same everywhere. Therefore its time we connect and be the change.

Courtesy: DNA http://www.dnaindia.com

 

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