‘Ma­jor­ity of the green stan­dards avail­able in In­dia only talk about norms af­ter the build­ing is ready’

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Nam­rata Kohli letters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Ara­bian Con­struc­tion Com­pany (ACC) has been lauded as con­trac­tors for fol­low­ing global best prac­tices in con­struc­tion and they were re­cently rated as No. 2 in the world by New York based agency, Coun­cil of Tall Build­ing and Ur­ban Habi­tat (CTBUH). ACC has ex­e­cuted a num­ber of build­ings across the world but its pro­ject that made its way to the Guin­ness Book of World Records is Princess Tower, the world’s tallest res­i­den­tial build­ing (a 105 storey, 414 me­tre tall res­i­den­tial sky­scraper lo­cated in the Ma­rina dis­trict of Dubai). The com­pany is cur­rently ex­e­cut­ing the tallest tow­ers in Delhi NCR (‘Su­per­nova’ of 80 storeys), Mum­bai (‘World One’ of 117 storeys and 460 me­tre) and Kolkata (‘The 42’ of 62 storeys and 250 me­tres). Ani Ray Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor ACC In­dia Pvt Ltd shares how there is a need to de­velop a com­plete ecosys­tem that fa­cil­i­tates go­ing green in real es­tate and con­struc­tion in­dus­try in In­dia. Edited ex­cerpts:

We all are aware of how the con­struc­tion and real es­tate in­dus­try pleads guilty of con­tribut­ing sig­nif­i­cantly to en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion. Is green con­struc­tion the an­swer to the prob­lem?

A green con­struc­tion is very fash­ion­able term but it’s im­por­tant to de­fine what green con­struc­tion is. In In­dia, we don’t have any pan In­dia reg­u­la­tion that lays down norms for green con­struc­tion.

There is no guid­ance on what to fol­low and there is no in­cen­tive to fol­low green rules, or dis­in­cen­tive on not to fol­low it. In short, there is a com­plete lack of an ecosys­tem to en­able go­ing green.

We have Griha and Leed stan­dards avail­able but ma­jor­ity of these green stan­dards only talk about norms to be fol­lowed, once af­ter the build­ing is ready. They gen­er­ally look at how much elec- tric­ity is gen­er­ated, AC load and how en­ergy can be saved etc. They merely touch upon a few of the con­struc­tion pro­cesses like con­struc­tion waste has to be re­cy­cled.

Whereas in de­vel­oped coun­tries, con­struc­tion norms are very clear and there are penal­ties for de­vi­a­tion.

For ex­am­ple, there can be no con­struc­tion af­ter sun­set in de­vel­oped coun­tries. But in In­dia, tenders spec­ify work hours but the de­sign of the con­tract and time­lines is such that labour has to work well late into night.

We know that all con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties gen­er­ate high lev­els of dust, con­crete, nox­ious vapours from oils, glues, thin­ners, and other haz­ardous chem­i­cals. How can fac­tors lead­ing to air pol­lu­tion from con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties be con­trolled or con­tained?

It is pos­si­ble to con­trol air pol­lu­tion aris­ing from con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties. For in­stance in Dubai, you can­not pro­duce con­crete on-site. You only get RMC or ready mix con­crete which is con­crete pro­duced out­side the city lim­its that can then be trans­ported in trucks to the site.

The fact is that the con­crete by it­self does not pro­duce that much waste; but it is the process of pro­duc­ing con­crete, in which one is us­ing ag­gre­gate, sand, ce­ment, that there is pol­lu­tion.

If you are pro­duc­ing con­crete on the site which is the norm in In­dia, then it def­i­nitely gen­er­ates a lot of waste.

In or­der to save cost of lo­gis­tics, if there is space, it is nearly al­ways pro­duced on site in In­dia.

Air pol­lu­tion can be con­tained to a great ex­tent if con­crete pro­duc­tion hap­pens only out­side city lim­its.

Con­struc­tion sites also pro­duce a lot of noise, mainly from ve­hi­cles, heavy equip­ment and ma­chin­ery. What are some of the con­struc­tion best prac­tices that can help to con­trol and pre­vent noise pol­lu­tion?

Con­struc­tion it­self pro­duces noise which can­not be elim­i­nated but def­i­nitely, re­duced. When you are talk­ing of big cities, noise is very high.

As long as con­struc­tion noise does not ex­ceed that level of sur­round­ing noise, it is ok. To help con­tain noise pol­lu­tion, it is im­por­tant to have bar­ri­cad­ing of the con­struc­tion site with an in­su­la­tion ma­te­rial.

Most of the places it is now banned to use a gen­er­a­tor, which is again a big source of noise but some places it still con­tin­ues.

And there should be strict reg­u­la­tion to stop con­struc­tion at night be­cause it al­ways crosses the DB level.

In the past the pol­lu­tion fines have been low and en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions slack. Do you think it is be­ing per­ceived as cheaper to pol­lute than to pre­vent pol­lu­tion?

There is not much of a reg­u­la­tion or much of an in­cen­tive for a de­vel­oper or con­trac­tor to fol­low en­vi­ron­men­tal safe prac­tices and that is the re­al­ity. Tak­ing care of en­vi­ron­ment is im­por­tant but this has a cost at­tached to it.

If your ecosys­tem is one that does not in­cen­tivize you for com­pli­ance to green con­struc­tion prac­tices, how will it work. In my view, you can­not leave it to dis­cre­tion of private party to com­ply with con­struc­tion best prac­tices, rather they should be­come manda­tory.

There should be strict reg­u­la­tion and a clear way of im­ple­men­ta­tion and there should be one body re­spon­si­ble for reg­u­lat­ing green con­struc­tion and build­ing norms, rather than a knee jerk reaction.

Any grow­ing econ­omy grap­ples with the ar­du­ous job of main­tain­ing a bal­ance be­tween eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and en­vi­ron­men­tal har­mony. How keen are the stake­hold­ers in In­dia to go green?

Yes econ­omy and en­vi­ron­ment can be in har­mony. But this has to be seen from a much big­ger level, and that is the pol­icy maker’s level. It can­not be de­ter­mined by private party ini­tia­tives be­cause they are af­ter all con­strained by ei­ther their own lim­i­ta­tions or vested in­ter­ests.

Ani Ray

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