Monthly Archives: October 2008

India’s Demand on Nature Approaching Critical Limits, Report Finds

Copyrights Global Footprint Network Blog

As the world grapples with the escalating effects of the financial crisis, Global Footprint Network reported on another mounting – and unsecured – debt: a growing gap in India between the amount of natural resources the country uses and how much it has.

India now demands the biocapacity of two Indias to provide for its consumption and absorb its wastes, according to a report released by Global Footprint Network and CII (Confederation of Indian Industry). The report, India’s Ecological Footprint: A Business Perspective, was presented Monday in New Delhi to a conference that included top Indian environmental officials, leaders of Indian industry, U.S. State Department representatives and other stakeholders.

India’s Ecological Footprint – the amount of productive land and sea area required to produce the resources it consumes and absorb its waste – has doubled since 1961, according to the report. Today, the country’s total demand on biocapacity is exceeded only by the United States and China.

“India is depleting its ecological assets in support of its current economic boom and the growth of its population,” says Mr. Jamshyd N. Godrej, Chairman of the CII Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre. “This suggests that business and government intervention are needed to reverse this risky trend, and ensure a sustainable future in which India remains economically competitive and its people can live satisfying lives.”

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Green and intelligent

Through sustainable building systems that conserve environment and natural resources, developers look to offer the home buyer health, comfort and security in the long term.

By  Bijoy Ghosh


Green and intelligent buildings are fast becoming the norm as developers and buyers see concrete value in them.

Green buildings are about environment and natural resource conservation and creating an ambience that contributes to improved efficiency and human health. Intelligent buildings are about automation systems that bring in the precision of a modern factory into the office and home.

Whether it is the lights, water, electrical and electronic appliances or access to people and material — everything is automated enabling conservation and efficiency. In addition, automation brings in two invaluable features to a buyer — security and comfort.

Saluting key initiatives

It is these two concepts that the World Standards Day on October 14 brought together, under the theme ‘intelligent and sustainable buildings.’

It pays tribute to experts across the world that have, and are, collaborating within the three principal international standardisation organisations — the International Electrotechnical Commission, International Organisation for Standardisation, and the International Telecommunication Union.

These organisations develop voluntary international standards facilitating trade, spreading knowledge and disseminating technological advantages.

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Hafeez Contractor may offload 74% for $150 mn

Hafeez Contractor, involved with several landmark real estate developments, is looking at offloading a majority stake in his eponymous and India’s largest architectural design firm, sources said. The Mumbai-based architect is discussing the possibility of divesting up to 74% stake with private equity funds at an enterprise valuation topping $150 million.

The earliest foreign investor in the domestic real estate sector, India Real Estate Opportunities (IREO) fund, is among the potential suitors that have had discussions with the architectural design firm, sources added. The firm has been in talks with potential suitors for a while, but the deal time-line may get stretched following the ongoing market turmoil as private equity industry is seen with-holding investments amidst unprecedented developments in the financial sector.

When contacted, Hafeez Contractor declined to comment saying he would not confirm or deny it. An email query pertaining to a possible stake sale in the company remained unanswered.
The 58-year-old Contractor is not working on a family succession to take forward the professionally-run firm, and his plans to divest a significant stake must be seen in the context, sources added. The 25-year-old firm has around 350 staff including 26 senior associates, and annualized revenue reportedly in the region of Rs 200 crore.

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Green bldgs: Fuel savers or fashion statements?

There’s a new mantra among builders and they’re chanting it with the fervour of cheerleaders: green architecture. The flag bearer of

green construction is the Indian Council of Green Building (ICGB). An organisation formed by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre, the ICGB is calling eco-friendly architecture a movement.

At the recently held Green Building Congress 2008, speakers from various industries tried urgently to tap into the zeitgeist of environmental concern, arguing that green construction is the only way to build without polluting. All manner of purportedly energy-efficient devices from power-saving bulbs to eco-friendly carpets were advertised. However while green construction appeals to builders and many architects, critics think it’s little more than a fashion statement.

 

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Building urban India

That we really don’t know what India’s urban infrastructure price tag is going to be is a big challenge

by Ramesh Ramanathan

India’s cities face many challenges, and one looms larger than the rest: How much will it cost to build our urban infrastructure?

Among the recent sources of urban infrastructure cost estimations are:

—From JNNURM cities’ capital investment plans and projects data, extrapolating the estimates from the reports of 63 mission cities across urban India indicates a requirement of Rs8 trillion for 5,161 cities.

—The Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO) estimates the requirement for 100% coverage of safe water supply and sanitation services by 2021 at Rs1.73 trillion.

—RITES’ estimate of Rs2.07 trillion needed for urban transportation in Class I cities over the next 20 years.

These sources supplement the more formal estimates for urban infrastructure requirements, such as the India Infrastructure Report, 1996 (also known as the Rakesh Mohan committee report); the 10th Plan of the Planning Commission of India, which contains estimates for water and sanitation services, and the Zakaria committee report of 1963, which is still used as a basis for estimating urban expenditure.

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‘Changes’ in development plan worry citizens

The civic body’s new Development Plan (DP), slated to be released in 2011, is generating fear in the minds of active citizens as areas reserved for municipal markets in the old DP have gradually been parceled over to private parties for years.

A Right to Information (RTI) application filed by activist Vidya Vaidya revealed that many such plots on the DP reserved for municipal markets have disappeared and, instead, commercial super markets have come up.

Similarly, reservation of open spaces for recreations grounds and playgrounds, sculptor’s studios, municipal primary schools and hospitals have also disappeared from the DP.

In 2006, General Arun Kumar Vaidya Nagar Rahawasi Sangh had won a case where the concerned authorities were asked to build municipal markets within two years.

 

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Open Spaces for the People

For the people

Much of our experience of a city depends on its public spaces. Yet in India, citizens seem unaware that they have a right to a hospitable city. We examine some of the reasons

Himanshu Burte

We hear a lot about cities in the West competing for the loyalty of their residents. In India, we hear muted noises about the need to attract people to our cities so that investment flows in.

No one will deny that much of what people feel about a city depends on their experience of its public spaces. Are the streets safe? Are they fun to walk down? Are there lots of things to do, apart from eating in sidewalk cafes (though that is a pleasure in itself)? And yes, where will the children play?

Walk around Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata, for instance, and the answers to these questions vary in detail or nuance. But the broad problems stay the same. Unlike many Western cities and suburbs, a lot is happening in our towns and cities. In the West, the city is often empty. In India, it is bursting with activity. But there is not enough of some things (good parks, playgrounds, even simple signage and street furniture), too much of others (private vehicles), and all flow together in extremely disorganized and inefficient ways. The reality is that public space in our cities is not hospitable.

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Mumbai to be focus of MIT UrbLab Conference

The MIT Urbanization Laboratory is organizing a symposium on the culture and politics of urban change that will be held from 1-5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3, 2008

This event will use Mumbai, India, as a case study to examine how architects, urban designers and planners are responding to the challenges and opportunities of rapid urbanization in the developing world. Speakers include professionals and academics from India as well as economists from the World Bank and Rockefeller Foundation.