How An Equilibrium Between Smart Cities And Environment Can Be Maintained
The recent case of post-Diwali smog has raised a number of questions about how safe our cities are at present times and what are we, as a government or as the general public, are doing to keep and make our environment free of pollution, so that it ensures healthy living for our future generations, too. While new age smart cities with an aim to also build an environment-friendly dwelling for people along with being digitally driven. But, are smart cities the answer to a healthy environment?
Major cities contribute to the 70 per cent of the global economy and home to a large migratory population given the better facilities and job opportunities available. This constant influx puts a lot of pressure on the natural resources, land and water. Moreover, it also increases demand for housing which uses conventional building materials in large scale construction. Apart from the construction, there is an increase in the number of vehicles that add to the ever increasing problem of air pollution.
Thus, a smart city has to be the combination of new-age infrastructure, alternative energy, water and wastewater treatment and green buildings. Recently, Maharashtra state government had taken a decision to use the Fly Ash policy. Fly ash is the residue which is obtained as a result of the combustion of coal in coal based thermal power plants and is now being used to create environment-friendly component for bricks and cement. It also helps in enhancing the quality of the soil and thus, helps in increasing the crop productivity.
The demand of concrete houses has been on the increase in the last few decades. The change in our lifestyle and the change in the economy have led to the increase in construction of concrete buildings. The construction of concrete structures uses most of the natural resources. The notable addition in today's buildings is the rainwater harvesting system. It is one small step towards using rainwater and conservation of the groundwater. As per the recent ranking by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), Mumbai has the highest number of green buildings in India while India has the third highest number of green buildings in the world. But, just having a few green buildings is not enough. The major concern keeping in mind the rising levels of particulate pollutants across Indian cities generated by vehicular exhaust are a major concern, too.
In the view of developing some of the cities into smart cities, some of the cities in the list are already bursting at the seams due to overpopulation. This increases the demand for new buildings, hence, newer constructions. Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director at Centre for Science and Environment says, “Devil is in the details. The problem of air pollution is big and the country, especially the capital city of Delhi is trying to cope with it.” According to Roychowdhury, the constructions for the smart city project there are two things that need to be done. “First, for construction, the laws and guidelines regarding dust control should be strictly implemented. All the measure like sprinkling of water to prevent the dust from becoming airborne and many others must be followed. Second, the waste that is generated as a result of the demolition of the buildings, the resultant construction waste must be recycled instead of dumping them,” she added.
The buildings that are the need of the hour must conserve energy, make maximum use of natural renewable energy resources like sunlight and wind energy to reduce the dependency on the conventional source of energy. India needs policies regarding building designs, the Energy Conservation Building Code, 2006 (ECBC) covers the construction requirements of large commercial buildings, likewise, there also is a need for plans for the residential buildings. Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) procedures by the Ministry of Environment and Forests addresses large building construction projects.