CREDAI Bengal, in association with its knowledge partner Colliers International India released a report titled 'Planning the sustainable way: challenges and the road ahead' at the Bengal Global Business Summit, 2019 in Kolkata 

While sustainability has been taught as the core of urban planning and architecture for years, its widespread adoption is yet to pick up in India. Urban planning in India needs to be a creative and scientific process to meet the enormous goals of upgrading the cities to support the growing population, while providing momentum to support the government's 2015 Smart Cities Mission. India is home to ~1.34 billion people, almost 18% of total mankind, and one of the few countries witnessing urbanization at the rate of +34%. India has shown the inclination to exceed the sustainable targets and has come a long way in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a focused policy level thrust by the government. According to Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), India's current green building footprint is about 5.3 billion square feet, ranked second only to the United States. Policymakers, developers and corporations are increasingly identifying the environmental, social and economic benefits of adopting green initiatives.

"India has exhibited strong intent to promote sustainable development through key initiatives such as the Smart City and Green City Mission among others along with establishing specific standards such as GRIHA. With a framework in place which is evolving, I believe that stakeholders, both public and private, should work towards adoption of the best practices and high standards of green rating,says Joe Verghese, Managing Director, Colliers International India.

As per Colliers International's estimates, the initial incremental capital investment of 8-10% in a building's green development can be recovered in two to three years due to the large savings in energy and resource costs. As most development in India is led by the private sector, we believe that there must be both push and pull to increase the green building footprint in India. Incentives and governmental programmes should push developers to increase construction of green buildings while clearer articulation of the benefits of occupying green buildings should pull in end-users.

The Government of India (GoI) has several programmes including Smart Cities to meet the burgeoning infrastructure needs and improve the overall development of cities. The Smart Cities Mission, together with Housing for All, is planned to facilitate implementation of the priority Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely poverty, employment, and basic amenities. According to a report released by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the government aims to build 20 million affordable homes for urban poor by 2022 and initiated the Smart Cities Mission in 2015 to sustainably develop 100 cities across the country making them appealing to citizens by providing environmentally friendly urban infrastructure.

As per Colliers Research, there are three important factors for successful implementation of large-scale initiatives such as the Smart Cities Mission. Firstly, the political willingness with a policy framework being a subset of this factor. The second factor is financial strategies for implementation, and lastly technical wherewithal to execute the project successfully. We believe the critical factor for successful implementation is the transfer of ownership of the projects to private agencies. The private sector offers the capability, bandwidth, and funding mechanism for execution and efficient implementation in a time bound manner.

One such State that has made significant progress in achieving its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is West Bengal, which opted out of the Smart City mission and initiated its own Green City mission. The Green City Mission envisages the implementation of sustainable strategies to support overall city development. The adoption of the Green City Mission and other green building programmes by the state government is planned to save resources and mitigate environmental impacts. Adopting guidelines and monitoring benchmarks are critical to the success of this project, and we recommend routine programme monitoring to ensure resource conservation and environmental goals are achieved.

"Infrastructure and real estate taken together is a major sector that propels far-ranging development of the economy. Over the past 7 years we have witnessed how the West Bengal State Government has laid great emphasis on strengthening existing and building new infrastructure. This has included under its ambit, townships, road networks, industrial infrastructure, etc. Thus, it has also become important to understand the sustainability quotient of such proliferation of infrastructure," says Nandu Belani, Chairman Belani Group and President at CREDAI Bengal. 

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