Clean Development- the Way Forward for Towns and Cities in India

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 560 , Published on 02 November 2015

With a plan to develop 100 smart cities, India is all set to usher into an era of rapid development. But India’s other towns and cities also need to be developed. And the best way forward for both new smart cities and old Indian towns and cities is Clean Development. In 1992, when United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was extended, participating countries signed a treaty called Kyoto Protocol, there were two major issues: (a) Global Warming and (b) man-made CO2 emission. Clean development then came as a tool to reduce carbon footprints.

This essay focuses on how Clean Development can be used to develop India’s cities and towns.

Image: pixabay

1. Development should be inclusive:

People have to be given the possibility to become the key resource of cities. Methods and processes exist, and are ready to be applied: stakeholder forums, user co-creation of basic services, popular votes on urban issues, information and internet access. The development has to be more inclusive, both in terms of participants and issues. Economic questions must not be left to economists only but the financial decisions have to fulfil sustainability criteria, too. Educating residents, of all ages, supports comprehension and empowers individuals to assume liability for – and pride in – their neighbourhood.

When a city expands, it does not take into account borders. The case-in-point is National Capital Region. As people no more live and work in the same area, planning has to be done accordingly. It is for the central and state governments to see the bigger picture. The governments have to make sure of vertical integration, to decentralize decision making and cooperation between various stakeholders.

2. Systematic Solutions:

40% of all energy produced is consumed in buildings, which translates to 30% of all carbon dioxide emissions. The examination made in IPCC’s fourth appraisal report (2007) made it clear that buildings are "low-hanging fruits", where the colossal outflow investment funds potential is the least expensive to execute.

It is crucial to build energy efficient long-durable cities which have flexible designs as they can be changed according to the needs. New buildings should be built in such a way that they produce more electricity than they can consume, harvest rain water and purify it itself.

Some of the ideas that can be implemented are:

• Central and state governments must lead in setting the benchmarks for new construction, maintenance and renovation of their own buildings.

• Maintenance and renovation of existing buildings should become a key business sector.

Buildings built out of distinct parts all of which have “Green” certificate, may not be sustainable. Also, if the sustainable buildings are located far away from the city and its services, which require long commutes, in true sense it is not a sustainable building.

Subsidised or instalment based payment system for solar power panels, small wind turbines on tall buildings, green-roofing, designs that make artificial lighting and HVAC redundant; use of eco-ventilators in warehouses and small production units

Readily and cheaply available sensors and similar electronic devices installed in structures throughout the city/town can be used to collect ground level data that will help monitoring environmental matrices. The same data, after some processing can be shared through dashboard with the local authorities to keep them updated with their targets and achievements and also the public. This can be a capable mechanism to teach residents about criticism, leads and slacks in the middle of activity and results, and to raise comprehension of complex issues. The instruments of systems perspective can help to enhance the nature of urban choice making. To get a driver's permit, for instance, one must take a course and breeze through a test. This will make planning and execution much easier for the associated authorities, thus extending the level of implementation of such activities.

3. Non-Market Solutions:

Non-Market solutions can be commonly described as “Jugaads”. The best example can be of Swades, how to generate electricity, local source was used rather than either waiting for village to get electricity or setting up a diesel-generator. Another very good example is of New York City. The city purchased land upstate and secured the land by an agreement with the land owner in order to protect water from getting polluted. Not only did the city saved $ 8 billion to build and $ 300-400 million annually to operate it but also created a recreational spot for the people of city by spending a fairly small amount of $200 million on preserving the ecosystem and managing land use to keep water supply clean naturally.

This shift from using high-tech solutions to so called “Jugaads” can again be illustrated by this example. Now-a-days in construction sector, builders are using local materials that are not built for use in the real-estate market. The high-tech solutions, in addition to increasing consumption, become obsolete very soon and need to be replaced at regular intervals.

“Every Consumer must become a “prosumer”, producer and consumer of renewable energy”

4. Eco-Cities:

In numerous cities waste management has been transformed into business, sorting produces material for painstaking work and bio-waste turns into a hotspot for bio-energy. Clogged sewers lead to a boycott on plastic bags. Subsistence planting is additionally promoted as a feature of enhanced land policies. Open access to data, e-administration, prominent votes, surveys and participatory planning are turning out to be everyday schedule. Repair of existing structures turns into a major project, open transport frameworks are enhanced and economical open acquisition practices are presented. Example is Copenhagen, where the government is motivating its people to use more of public transport or bicycle. By 2025, the city wants 75% of the total trips to be made on foot, bike or through public transportation. Also, the city has started using thermal plants’ heat to warm the houses which effectively reduces energy consumption by 10%. The city has an ambitious plan to reduce per capita water consumption to 100 litres per day.

Making regulation that enforces plantation of x% green cover, bio degradation of sewer water, govt. hiring people for repair work and encouraging the same through incentives can also help lay foundations of Eco-Cities.

5. Public Transport:

Transport system of every city eventually becomes its lifeline. Be it Local in Mumbai, Metro in Delhi or Tubes in London. So it becomes very important to make sure that the city’s population neither has to travel a lot nor at an unreasonable cost. A major share of any city’s CO2 emission is caused by transport system. In urban India, private cars are the prime mode of travelling.

Some cities have a provision of low-income homes near central areas to provide employment opportunities for BPL people so as these people don’t have to travel much.

Positive impacts of public transport, biking and walking must be brought to the public and decision makers.

• Municipalities should be made mandatory to offer public transport and pedestrian sidewalks.

• Urban development projects should be charged a transport levy which can finance restricted parking facilities and public transport.

• Cab-pooling businesses should be promoted instead of cab-aggregation services

6. Sustainable Financing:

“Polluter pays” is the principle that must be adopted in cities. The initial lure of public private partnerships (PPPs) as an easy source of finance may have weakened after cities have faced the challenges linked with them. The property tax and user charges alone will not carry the expenditure load. Local residence based earnings tax or a share of commerce/industry tax can lead to unhealthy tax competition within the area.

Like polluter pays, similar initiative for people using excessive resources (say water or electricity) more than a certain value be taxed heavily.

One way of Sustainable Financing is Result-Based Financing. Also known as pay-for-performance, this method has been used mostly Health sector and in sales.

It is progressively being considered as a method for financing the selection of low-carbon advancement pathways and greenhouse gas (GHG) discharges decrease. RBF gives installments to achievement, and just upon the conveyance of pre-characterized, confirmed results.


It is very difficult to build a fully sustainable city; but it is a continuous process of improvement. As with the buildings, a single step is not a solution, but a strategic approach towards building the city or town as a whole. Jeb Brugmann righty said, “Progressive transformation is value-driven.” Institutions and individuals should align their plans for the city to a common and stronger strategy because the end result is more captivating.

It is not just by “Green” construction that a city becomes sustainable. The whole value chain has to be efficient and “Green” enough. Again, it is not just the performance of various stakeholders that matters; it is the buildings’ performance.

A sustainable city is built on inclusive vision, clear and simple government rules and continuously monitoring implementation. An excellent but disconnected idea does not make whole thing work. A locally engrained, sustainably built idea by people of the city has to be the foundation of Clean Development in India.

This article has been authored by Abhinav Modi & Abhineet Sudhendra from XIMB


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