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India has a great potential for setting up next-gen cities

Feb 12, 2014

“We need to think on the possibilities of creating smart sustainable cities,’’said Amitabh Kant, MD, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC).

New Delhi: India needs to relook some of its policies which have become responsible for the depletion of its vital natural resources like groundwater. The country would have to show more efficiency not just for increasing food production but also to ensure that its fast dwindling natural resource base is replenished appropriately.

Some of India’s top bureaucrats have called for measures to integrate water conservation with food and energy production. Speaking at the session on ‘Centre-stage India’ during the 14th Sustainable Development Summit in New Delhi, B K Chaturvedi, Member, Planning Commission of India, called for more expenditure on renewable sources of energy like solar and wind. “If we have enough water and energy, the production of food would obviously go up,” he said.

Chaturvedi unequivocally said that the provision of free energy must go for the cause of sustainability as free power is draining groundwater in areas which are already water starved. “Even if we do not charge our farmers, we can at least meter the electricity used by them. State authorities shy away from metering electricity which leads to water wastage,” he said.

Chaturvedi said that energy accessibility was still a big challenge in rural areas, and added that around 300 million people do not have access to electricity.

Amitabh Kant, MD, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC), said that it was important to converge next generation technologies, and digital technologies for creating smart cities. India is in the process of setting up seven greenfield cities in six states and integrating them with the Indian Railways’ dedicated freight corridor, Kant said and added that India had a great possibility for the next generation sustainable cities. “We need to think on the possibilities of creating smart sustainable cities,’’ he said.

Rajeev Kher, Secretary, India’s commerce department, called for a mechanism to determine the adverse impact of carbon footprint on smaller countries and Industries. “There has been a lot of debate on whether carbon footprint should be used for India or not,” he said.

Surendra Kumar, Secretary, Science, Technology and Environment, Tripura, said that the north eastern region produced 40% of India’s total hydro power. “Per capita energy consumption in the north eastern region is much less than the national average,” he said.

Dr S K Sarkar, Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, India, said that by the year 2020, India would be a water-stressed country and by 2030, it would be a water scarce country. Calling for a multidisciplinary approach for water conservation, he highlighted that most of the existing dams were old and inefficient. “We should introduce price mechanism in the system. There should be better coordination between the centre and states for improved water management,” he suggested.

Arunendra Kumar, Chairman, Railway Board, called for more efficient use of energy. He also highlighted some achievements of the Railways on the sustainability front like the use of 7,000 bio-toilets (which are free from bacteria and foul smell) on trains. “Indian Railways has an energy efficient system. Using latest technology, India has also started using gas in the place of diesel,” he said.

Ajai Malhotra, former Ambassador of India to Russia, said that poverty eradication is India’s first priority and added that the urban poor are growing in numbers. “We need to follow best practices as we are vulnerable on water and energy. However, we are safe on food production,” he assured.

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