India has been at the receiving end of the growing climatic imbalance.
Propelled by rising global temperatures, the country has suffered severe heat waves, erratic monsoons, flash floods, tropical cyclones and a compounding sea level rise. While few of these changes are irreversible, immediate and effective steps can contain greenhouse gas emissions. As a developing nation, India cannot backtrack on its developmental goals. However, it can devise sustainable practices to manage the emissions. India needs to build a green economy with sustainability at the core of its developmental plan.
PM Gati Shakti Yojna: Powering Infrastructural Development Infrastructure development is the axis of growth for any country. Shying away from this pivotal step is like the ostrich burying its head in the sand. A sound infrastructure can connect regions and markets, boost the standard of life, provide access to education and health facilities while creating employment opportunities that generate spending capacity in the economy. The government has been trying to achieve the same and build a robust infrastructure through its pivotal PM Gati Shakti Yojna. During her budget speech, the Hon’ble finance minister announced measures to boost a multi-modal plan under the visionary PM Gati Shakti Yojna.
These infrastructure development programmes attached to PM Gati Shakti Yojna will usher India into a new age of connectivity where reaching the remotest region would become a much easier thing. While the government has announced the addition of 25,000 km to the highway network, construction of roads at such a rapid pace may lead to increased environmental lapses. The implementing agencies need to ensure that development does not come at the cost of the environment.
Sustainable and robust infrastructure key to Net-zero commitments India is among the few developing nations which have tried to mitigate its emissions through a slew of initiatives. India has vowed to be a net-zero emitter by 2070 to become a green economy. Hon’ble Prime Minister announced a five-point policy called the Panchmitra to help India reduce its emissions to reach the target. India has committed to increasing non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030; it stated that it would strive to meet 50% of its energy needs with the help of non-renewable energy by 2030. The policy further states that the nation vows to reduce its carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030. The efforts to reach this milestone would begin now. Reducing the nation’s carbon intensity by 45% till 2030 would be the fourth step under the five-fold policy. Lastly, India will take every necessary action to achieve the Net-Zero targets. This declaration positions India as an indomitable champion of the environmental cause. While the most developed countries have been dilly-dallying from committing, this is indeed a praiseworthy effort by a developing country. Accomplishing the target would require a herculean effort, and every stakeholder would need to chip in with their actions to make this possible.
The role of the construction sector Construction is an essential prerequisite of development. Buildings, roads, dams, ports, railways industrial parks and special economic zones, and every other infrastructural development cannot be possible without construction. While India is still mulling to bring a composite law governing green construction, parts of several environmental legislation provide for the rules and regulations that minimise pollution. The United Nations Environment Programme report on emissions from the building and construction sector states that despite a reduction of one per cent, the segment contributed 37% of the total emissions worldwide. Other construction-related activities accounted for an additional 10% of energy-related emissions. The Indian constructions segment emits about 22% of the total emissions from the country. If unabated, the pollution from the buildings and construction sector would become one of the substantial contributors to the country’s emissions.
The conventional ways of construction involve several activities that lead to pollution. Right from the release of particulate material in the air to the discharge of excessive heat in the atmosphere, and wastage and pollution of water, the traditional construction practices add to the environmental woes. While there are several ways and means to reduce construction-related emission, the most impactful solution is using prefabricated materials for construction. Wire mesh solutions geosynthetics and other rip-rap structures can prove to be of great use in providing longevity while reducing the effort and onsite pollution in construction of infrastructure.
Utilising locally sourced materials can add to the sustainability factor and contribute towards building green infrastructure. Geosynthetics, geogrids and geo-composites are prefabricated solutions which enable use of local materials. Walls and roads reinforced with these solutions are long-lasting and sustainable. These walls have a 52-80% lower environmental impact when compared to walls constructed from concrete and steel.
Incorporating sustainable solutions and green practices in every sphere and segment of the economy can help India transition towards a green economy. A resilient infrastructure developed with the help of environment-friendly construction solutions can pace up this evolution by leaps and bounds.
The authored article is written by Vikramjiet Roy, Managing Director, Maccaferri India, and shared with Prittle PrattleNews exclusively.