Approaching Urban Sustainability – A Minor Field Study in India

This thesis aims to enable improved urban sustainability in India and has therefore been conducted at WSP’s office in Delhi. The objective has been to chart the Indian characteristics as well as to identify difficulties regarding urban sustainability.

The purpose and objective have been accomplished through the implementation of three research questions. The questions have been answered by a literary review of existing theories and a complementary document analysis.

Furthermore, a case study of a new development in India with long-term sustainability in focus of the design has been conducted. For an Indian city to achieve a sustainable urban development, five pillars of sustainability have been identified; political, physical, ecological, social and economic.

The ecological, social and economic are pillars from the common definition of sustainability, however they have different meaning and focus in the Indian context. The physical and political pillars are therefore characteristic for the Indian urban development. The physical pillar is added in the Indian context since short term planning and focus on profit is dominating the building industry.

The demand for maintenance is because of that larger than the supply which results in a need for more emphasis on the physical built environment. The political pillar is applied because of the concerns for the value and quality of governance actions. It affects the four other pillars since the government should provide guidance, both with instructions and by executions, which is not always apparent. The Indian government has introduced several strategies in order to achieve sustainability in Indian cities.

Rating tools for sustainability, such as Leed and Griha, together with the planning of spatial city forms, such as compact city form and mixed land use, which are the main procedures. Benefits in terms of lower interest rates on loans and a quicker clearance are given to developers who intend to build sustainably.

Though the many theories and strategies seem ambitious, they are not always as effective when translated into practice. This is partly because of the lack of follow-up and partly the clients focus on quick profit. Thus, India is facing many challenges in order to reach a sustainable urban development. Together with urbanisation and growth in population, corruption is the main challenge since many other follows.

These are lack of awareness in the field of sustainability, short term planning and the focus on profit as well as public safety and poverty. If India is serious about developing its cities sustainably, it is significant for the Indian government to take an inspiring role in using and promoting sustainability.
Source: Jönköping University
Author: Brandt, Julia | Svensson, Linnéa

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