Sustainable townships idea yet to impress private sector: experts

September 25th, 2010 - 5:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Sanjay Dutt By Bhargavi Kerur
Panaji, Sep 25 (IANS) With India’s urban population set to soar over the next two decades, India needs to build 25 townships. However, the concept of sustainable townships is yet to find takers in the private industry, urban planning experts say.

Also it would take a decade to build such townships, said experts gathered here for the ‘Urban Planning and Real Estate Leadership summit’.

The three-day summit, which began Thursday, is organised by the independent forum Global Initiative for Restructuring Environment and Management (GIREM).

According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, ‘India’s urban awakening: Building inclusive cities, sustaining economic growth’, India would need 25 new townships to house about 590 million people by 2030.

“International experience shows that India could turn its cities around in a decade,” the report said.

Ashok Lall Architects principal Ashok B. Lall said Friday at the summit: “The concept of sustainable townships came from the government, which failed to implement it (concept) and it is yet to sink in the private industry, which thinks of making profits out of them.”

According to RSP Architects director Arunjot Singh Bhalla, sustainable townships are considered only in terms of environment-friendly infrastructure.

“We need to think of the affordability factor for building houses in such townships by including members from various strata of society. Hence social sustainability becomes a major factor of sustainable townships,” Bhalla noted.

Admitting that business houses have to be sensitised to go for sustainable townships, Bhalla said the industry would need a legal framework to take up such ambitious projects.

“A regulatory framework with penalty clause has to be in place to manage waste material, and energy consumption should be restricted to certain units. Modern technology will figure out solutions to follow the law,” Bhalla added.

Sanjay Dutt, chief executive o the global financial and professional services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), said barring the Hiranandani project at Powai in Mumbai and Magarapatta near Pune in Maharashtra, holistic townships were yet to take shape in other parts of the country.

“The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) plans to build six greenfield cities across the country over the next five years - Dholera in Gujarat, Manesar-Bawal in Haryana, Indore-Mhow in Madhya Pradesh and Dighi and Nasik-Igatpuri in Maharashtra,” Dutt said during the session on ‘Sustainable Townships’.

Quoting from the McKinsey report, Lall said: “As India’s urban population will soar to 590 million in 2030 from 340 million in 2008, there is a need to build 20-25 new townships closer to 20 metros and cities across the country.”

The report noted that lack of effective policies to manage urbanisation could jeopardise the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate.

“International experience shows that India could turn its cities around in a decade. If the country makes and executes the right policy choices, it could boost annual GDP by 1-1.5 percent, taking the economy to the double-digit growth it needs to create jobs for the 270 million people expected to enter the working-age population over the next two decades,” the report pointed out.

Noting that Indian cities were expanding on a larger scale and at a faster pace than ever before, the report said the authorities avoided dealing with the hard questions about how best to manage its massive urbanisation. This policy vacuum may lead to worsening urban decay, poor quality of life for citizens and reluctance among investors to commit funds to projects in urban centers.

“Managed poorly, Indian cities will fall further into decay and gridlock, and the growth trajectory could even be called into question. Handled well, this urban expansion will be the key to India’s continuing economic success,” the report observed.

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