Bengaluru: A city heading towards sustainable development

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The government, private sector and citizens coming together in push towards sustainable development will power Bengaluru to its rightful place on the global map of developed cities, writes Ashish Puravankara, Managing Director, Puravankara Ltd

Recently, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman praised Bengaluru, crediting the city for the buoyancy it provides to the country’s economy. Lauding the city’s start-ups, she said no other metro can compete with Bengaluru, which offers a diverse mix of start-ups in the agri-innovation, fin-tech, medical treatments, bio mix, AI sectors, and much more.

From its heydays as a ‘Pensioners’ Paradise’, Bengaluru has undergone many transformations, pivoting gracefully from an aerospace hub to an information technology and start-up hub. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the city has consistently reinvented itself to keep up with the times.

Bengaluru has witnessed a boom in the past three decades as one of the country’s newest metro cities. The spurt in the volume of business activity in the city has spurred the government to ensure that the infrastructure continues to keep pace with the demands of a dynamic economy.

The authorities are taking steps to ensure that the city’s development matches the needs and expectations of its residents - a multicultural populace comprising educated, global citizens. For over a decade now, the city has led from the front in activism, and the number of experts and organisations clamouring for change has grown steadily. This has also led the government to address crucial issues, steadily plugging the leakages in areas of concern.

 Take, for example, the water supply situation. In the year 2012-13, the Non-Revenue Water (NRW) percentage stood at 49 per cent. NRW is the difference in the amount of water the BWSSB receives against the amount reaching consumers. The NRW is caused by water leaking due to broken pipes, illegal connections and faulty meters. This means nearly half of all water pumped into the city was unaccounted for just a decade ago. By 2022, this was reduced to around 34 per cent, and work continues to achieve the target of 15 per cent by 2050 (according to the Vision Document 2050 by BWSSB).

As the city’s population burgeons to reach over 1.25 crore in 2025, there is an urgent need to find another water source without being utterly dependent on the Cauvery - a fact with which the BBMP commissioner Tushar Girinath agrees. In the recent summit titled ‘Bengaluru 2040’, he stressed on the need for collective efforts focused on increasing the usage of treated water and more widespread residents’ adoption of rainwater harvesting methods.

The government is already working to add transport and mobility options, like the Satellite Town Ring Road (STRR), to address the city’s infrastructure growth. This, along with adding land and infrastructure projects, is showing growth. Of course, this must be holistic and sustainable.

According to Rakesh Singh, Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department, an integrated city is being planned on the outskirts of Bengaluru, with around 10,000 acres earmarked for development in Bidadi.

 Positively, the government’s work can be more impactful and meaningful if the city is developed with a comprehensive development plan (CDP) which will factor in all-round growth. An updated master plan is crucial to regulating development. It is heartening to see the government pushing hard for a new CDP to be released as a roadmap for the next two decades of growth.

 A recent study showed that Bengaluru’s urban cover will increase to 1,323 sq km (by 58 per cent) by 2025, nearly double the spread of 727.88 sq km (31.75 per cent) recorded in 2017. The predicted urban cover for 2025 (1,323 sq km) is higher than the 1,314 sq km identified as a Local Planning Area (LPA), for which the BDA plans to introduce the new Master Plan 2041. This shows the need for holistic development.

 As developers, we can contribute to the city’s goals by building greener, better and sustainable buildings. The RICS Sustainability Report 2023 shows that globally, real estate developers remain focused on carbon measurement, a precursor to achieving net-zero carbon goals. Homebuyers in the United Kingdom, the Middle East and Europe are showing an increased inclination toward sustainable buildings, thereby providing a fillip for real estate developers. In India, we have also been witnessing such sustained interest, which augurs well for the future in Bengaluru and across the country.

Bringing in a holistic development plan that balances commercial and public interests is the need of the hour. To grow as a city and claim its place on the list of global metropolises, many different branches of the government, the private sector and citizens need to work together to ensure sustainable development in the future. The sheer number of experts in the city discussing these issues and trying to find smarter solutions is a huge positive which ensures that the city is headed for better days.

This article is part of a featured content programme.
Published 28 May 2024, 06:51 IST

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