15 November 2019

Cover Story

URBANISATION: New frontiers

 

The worst of the economic decline is now behind. After over a year of seeming political torpor, across the growing swathe of India – the former agrarian belt of villages and towns now transforming into cities and their satellites – there appears frenzy for construction bordering on urgency.

 

Last fortnight the call for progress on the ground was underlined further by Non Resident Indians packed to the rafters at London’s Wembley Stadium giving their full throated approval to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development mantra, despite considerable cynicism outside.

 

A few days later at a meeting of Principal Secretaries of State Urban Development departments and municipal commissioners of cities included in the Smart City Mission, from nine states, were firmly told that there would be no extension of time for the respective urban local bodies and states beyond December 15, 2015 for submission of city level Smart City Plans.

 

The states represented at the meeting were UP, MP, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Nagaland.

 

It may be recalled that 98 cities from all the states and Union Territories have so far been included in the Smart City Mission, launched by the Prime Minister in June. This first round of selection of the cities was made based on competition among various urban local bodies in each state, based on a set of criteria. The first batch of cities to be selected in the second stage of competition will be provided with central assistance of Rs.200 crore each during this financial year followed by Rs.100 crore per year during the next three years.

 

In April this year, the Government of India approved spending of around Rs 1 lakh crore on urban development under two new urban missions to be carried out over the next 5 years.

 

It has to be said that ever since the NDA government took over the Smart Cities initiative – launched by the previous political dispensation – and set the idea of business prospects rolling, huge interest has been generated in international business circles for India’s urban surge outside its traditional metros.

 

Certainly a new urban sunrise has been on in India for some time now. Developing India’s New Smart Urbania is seen the New Big Opportunity.

 

While not expecting a Songdo-like Smart City surprise to leap up in India any time soon, every developed nation from Korea to Japan to China to Germany to Singapore and the UK, along with their multinational constructors has come closer to New Delhi on a single agenda – urban engagement.

 

With such international competition it is no surprise that UK Prime Minister David Cameron was quick to announce on the second day of Modi’s visit to UK that Britain would partner India in developing three cities – Indore, Amravati and Pune by providing financial and technical assistance. The discussions between the two leaders has led to many positive agreements and understanding, which fit in with India’s national priorities. These include smart cities, healthcare, clean river initiatives, skills and education.

 

But India’s urban concerns would require some more aggressive reaching out for partnerships abroad. Which for a hard working Narendra Modi come with risks attached of being further criticised as a continuously travelling prime minister!

 

At the time of writing this story more profitable linkages are expected as the prime minister travels to Malaysia for the annual India-Asean summit and a meeting of East Asian heads of state and government—and Singapore, with which New Delhi marks 50 years of diplomatic relations this year.

 

There is no doubt that there is now a measure of urgency to get urbanisation related programmes actioned. Rapid urbanisation, a global megatrend, is putting a strain on the infrastructure, environment and social fabric of cities. Very obviously investments required to stabilise, augment as well as build a robust urban infrastructure are at the forefront of the government’s current agenda.

 

Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Government of India, explains, "Urbanisation has been and will be going forward a major challenge for India. The assessment is that there will be close to 700 million people in our urban zone by 2050. That’s a lot of people and the trick will be do things in a smart and sustainable manner. Naturally therefore urban development projects, of which Smart Cities, Digital India and Swacchh Bharat Mission are part of, must be very carefully planned. They have to be in alignment.”

 

Kant should know that having been charge of the ambitious Industrial Corridor projects which will come up like an economic growth spine to the new urban agglomerations expected to leap up alongside.

 

One of them, Amaravati, ‘the futuristic world class city and capital’ of Andhra Pradesh – a Singapore wannabe named after Indra’s legendary capital – has recently broken ground on the banks of the Krishna courtesy its prime mover, N Chandrababu Naidu, current Chief Minister of the recently bifurcated southern state.

 

Naidu’s Amaravati is just 54,000 acres. Imagine the size of the rest of India seeking urban transformation. Modi’s home turf Gujarat, a proactive state as far as infrastructure development is concerned, has announced starting of work on the Smart City plan in six cities viz Vadodara, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Dahod. The State government as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission has declared completion of two lakhs toilets in 3,000 villages of Gujarat and is now planning to construct similar structures in all 18,000 villages of Gujarat in a time-bound manner. Taking steps to tackle the problem of water logging, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha and Mizoram have proposed to invest Rs.242 crore in construction of storm water drains for discharging flood waters in 25 cities in those states. The works are to be undertaken under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) action plans for 2015-16.

 

Such development initiatives for EPC contractors, real estate majors, construction materials suppliers, infrastructure and green building experts, project managers, engineers, architecture and design firms translates to huge business.

 

STEELY FUTURE

 

As the population grows the built environment will increasingly take the vertical route. It will necessitate the employment of newer construction methodologies and more advanced equipment to address dynamic high rise needs. While the architecture and construction industry in developed nations has increasingly moved towards steel-intensive structures, India too cannot escape the influence for long with the buildings of the future veering towards smart construction – a trend identified with the use of steel.

 

That doubtless is expected to get India’s steel industry into aggressive mode. Some indication of that can be got out of Tata Steel’s recent performance. Notwithstanding the ongoing downturn in global commodity prices and seasonal weakness in demand the Mumbai headquartered steel maker has been able to increase its deliveries by 9 per cent during the quarter on the back of strong sales to the auto sector and a higher proportion of value added products. Tata Steel has reported a 22 per cent rise in consolidated net profit at Rs.1,528.71 crore in the September quarter. Not just that the company has commissioned the first phase (3 million tonnes per annum) of its 6 MTPA capacity Kalinganagar Steel Plant — the largest single-location greenfield steel project in India. The company plans to expand the plant’s capacity to 16 MTPA by 2025 with the cumulative investment amounting to Rs.1,00,000 crore.

 

Ergo, it is easy to see confidence in India’s urban future when T V Narendran, Managing Director, Tata Steel India and South East Asia says, “We are sure initiatives like metros projects, smart cities and industrial corridors will finally translate into concrete upturn for the steel industry.”

 

 

VERTICAL TRANSPORT

 

With a large number of new high rise construction across India and growing vertical transportation needs in the urban development firmament, elevator manufacturers appear to be gung ho about future prospects. India is currently the fastest growing elevator market in the world. Growing at 11.2 per cent each year (CAGR), its total market size stood at approximately 58,000 units in FY 2013-14. From a market value of 1.36 billion euros in 2013, it is expected to reach 2.57 billion euros in 2019.

 

For instance such is the confidence in the country’s market that Thyssenkrupp Elevator India whose product portfolio includes passenger and freight elevators, escalators and moving walks, passenger boarding bridges for airports, stair and platform lifts has invested 44 million euros in a state of the art multipurpose manufacturing plant in the Chakan Industrial Area of Pune. Bharat Vishnani, Managing Director, Thyssenkrupp Elevator India explains, “With the government focused on building 100 Smart Cities, including new housing complexes, airports, malls, railway stations, and harbours, we are expecting to see a significant increase in demand for mobility solutions in India with elevators playing an important part in this. Add to this the Industrial Corridor program which shall give the required impetus for a holistic and sustained growth by opening up new avenues and opportunities. ThyssenKrupp is perfectly poised to contribute to the new urban requirements.”

 

EQUIPMENT THRUST

 

With urban residential and commercial construction structures and infrastructure projects like metros, roads, bridges, telecom towers, underground pipeline networks and road tunnels expected to be implemented in right earnest there will be a big increase in specialised construction equipment in the Indian market. With tall buildings now becoming the norm across the urban sprawl construction equipment making use of the latest technologies are in vogue. It is easy to see that construction equipment manufacturers are once again looking forward to cater to the demand for machines with utility, quality and safety features embedded in them. Also they expect to use machines with the best components and with a lower breakdown period as most of the urban projects are time bound projects.

 

Dr Vikram Mehta, Managing Director, Spartan Engineering Industries, a prominent player in India’s lifting and passenger handling sector, is underlining the growing market brightness when he says, “We are expecting positive growth from high rise constructions which are gaining prominence not just in metros but also in tier II cities. That opens growth avenues.”

 

 

Rajeev Kumar, CEO, Friends Equipment, a firm which specialises in various type of cranes having capacities like Crawler, Telescopic, Tower and Gantry and tunnel boring machines, says, “Urban India will see a big increase in demand for specialised construction equipment. We see wide market prospects,”

 

 

SOFT POWER

 

Construction and infrastructure projects such as urban infrastructure development projects are plagued by delays and waste, arising largely from the fact that many different people and organisations have to come together for smooth project execution, and such collaboration is difficult in today’s technology landscape. The new urban programmes constitute a great opportunity for technology solutions providers to address issues like project management. Like the Chennai based Nadhi which has developed its hugely popular nPulseTM as a complement to existing technology solutions to integrate them and move data across which connects all the stakeholders into a seamless whole, and eliminates data entry duplication and information latency and makes the project “flow” better. The result is more “smartly” run projects and less waste of time and materials, resulting directly in economic and environmental benefits.

“We are bullish and optimistic about the trend in India. We think technical solutions like ours will have wide adoption in the market. In urban space we are associated with number of leading developers and EPC contractors like Tata Realty and Infrastructure Ltd, Lodha Developers, Afcons Infrastructure Ltd, EDAC Engineering, URC Construction Ltd” says Kalyan Vaidyanathan, Co-Founder & CEO, Nadhi Information Technologies Pvt Ltd.

 

UTILITIES PUSH

 

Power in India’s growing urban zone is truly at an inflexion point. With constant emphasis on growth and industrialisation requirement for clean energy capacity is constantly increasing. Very obviously there is an urgent need to focus on clean technologies such as super critical and ultra super critical thermal power plants besides exploring new and renewable sources of energy generation that could complement existing thermal power capacities. This is a big opportunity for international firms to collaborate with local players to produce technologies and solutions which can prove to be breakthroughs for the utilities. In terms of hard solutions major global technology manufacturers such as Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Alstom and others have tied up with Indian power producers to manufacture super critical boilers, turbines and generators.

 

Early last month ABB Group introduced India’s first full-fledged multi-source microgrid. The global power and automation technology major has executed more than 30 microgrid projects across the globe and is well placed to partner with the government in this area.”With nearly a quarter of the population in the country lacking access to electricity the new solution powered by solar and wind can generate up to 125 kilovolt ampere (kVA) - enough clean energy for around 4,000 rural households The microgrid is equipped with a state-of-the-art battery bank for power storage and balancing, and can function independently or as a supplement to the main grid. Bazmi Husain, Managing Director, ABB India, says, “In terms of overall urban electricity infrastructure there is a huge need which can be addressed by microgrid technology.”

 

Further there are also players making soft contributions to the demands of urban power. Companies like the French multinational Dassault Systèmes which delivers advanced engineering and manufacturing software solutions for power and energy equipment suppliers too are looking to contribute to bringing efficiencies in India’s power sector through its 3D Experience platform which connects all stakeholders in a secure and controlled collaborative environment. The company’s solutions improve management of large capital projects like nuclear power plants to deliver on time and on budget, following requirements and specifications, allowing the businesses to run more efficiently with a high level of safety. “We have developed solutions for Smart cities projects. Our experience in that field can definitely support the programme in India,” says Stephane Declee, Vice President Industry Energy Process & Utilities, Dassault Systèmes.

 

Dassault is not the only one looking to contribute to the new constructive assault. Other global firms like Opower which offers a cloud-based platform, big data, and behavioral science to help utilities around the world lower their energy use and costs, and significantly reduces carbon emissions, are also keenly eyeing government owned and private initiated projects. “We are very optimistic about the opportunities which will evolve for technical solutions like ours in the near future. We hope to raise the bar of energy efficiency and management seen in India,” says David Moore, Senior Manager of Market Development & Regulatory Affairs, Opower.

 

CLEANTECH THRUST

 

Cleanliness is at the heart of Modi’s urban development thrust and the Swachh Bharat Mission has generated huge interest among players in the cleantech segment both in India and abroad. Japanese organisation JICA in particular has been very proactive in its support: It has extended Rs.580 crore for the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) project for improvement of water quality of the Ganga at Varanasi and living conditions for city residents, pilgrims and tourists. The project also includes construction of sewers, pumping stations, sewage treatment plants and community toilets for underprivileged households. The other major projects which have support of the agency include the Yamuna Action Plan, sewerage system development in Amritsar, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Guwahati and the abatement of pollution in Hussain Sagar Lake at Hyderabad through sewerage system development. More than 1.5 crore people are expected to benefit through improved habitat enabled by these projects, it is reported.

 

At the ground level what the Swachh Bharat Mission has done is to contribute to a public toilet building frenzy across various states. Such is the aggressive toilet construction thrust that nineteen cities in Maharashtra have achieved the status of being free of open defecation. The state government has now set a target to achieve a complete open defecation-free status by 2018. Meanwhile a team of architects in Pune meanwhile have used technology to create India’s first planned and open defecation free slum. Through the use of Google maps and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Shelter Associates has been able to generate critical data on urban slums which identify the gaps in delivery of essential services. So far the organisation has mapped over 355 slums in Pune and Sangli covering over a lakh residents, constructed over 700 community toilets in Pune Sangli and Miraj inclusive of accommodation for a caretaker and a biogas system. All these initiatives are on a cost sharing model where families contributed 30 per cent of the total cost of the toilets.

 

While the new public toilets enthusiasm requires to be cheered an area missing in the new urban focus is solid-waste management. The Urban Development Ministry’s 2015 report shows that out of 145,085 million tons of total waste generated in municipalities in a day, only 17.6 per cent was being processed. In India local governing bodies like Municipal Corporations are entrusted with the responsibility to implement such technologies. Private companies only act as service providers or as a consultant. Due to this there is a large skill gap seen in the waste management practices. There is thus a huge opportunity for private companies to contribute in a healthy way to bring about change. India hence needs a qualitative change in the waste management practices.

 

“Urban India needs a qualitative change in waste management practices. Our focus is to achieve a steady and positive growth by increasing our market share in the solid waste management segment in the coming years,” says M Goutham Reddy, MD & CEO, Ramky Enviro Engineers, a leading Hyderabad based provider of comprehensive environment and waste management, and consultancy services. His firm is credited with establishing India’s first integrated industrial hazardous waste management facility and its recent projects include the Mumbai Solid Waste Management initiatives, operating India’s largest hazardous waste incinerator complex at Taloja and handling 15 medical solid waste projects across the country.

 

REAL ESTATE OOMPH

 

The real estate sector which will take the lead in creating the new urban zones too sees an explosion of business but with a rider.

 

“Any further movement on the urban front must ensure proper planning, having clear policies in place, one window clearance systems and land acquisition irritants out of the way to avoid the pitfalls of the past. Future urban growth lies in the satellites beyond the traditional metros and in the Tier II and III cities. The bottomline is that we have to be smart every which way,” says Sunil Mantri, Chairman, Mantri Realty.
There can be no doubt about that requirement. India’s New Urbania is both a challenge and an opportunity that the nation must capitalise on.

 

BAUMA CONEXPO INDIA, a joint venture of Messe München and AEM, stands for qualitative organisation of international trade fairs for the construction industry.
With our emphasis always being on the highest quality, we also choose our partners and associates carefully and with good reason. In keeping with the growing importance of India as a country to watch for on the development firmament, Messe München has accorded respect and attention due to it in the form of the three editions of the trade fairs successfully conducted since 2011.
I am happy to say that all through this journey we have received great support from the Indian media both mainstream and B2B.
Now as we, an old global event organiser with a new local avatar, enter a more dynamic chapter in India’s development universe, it is natural for us to have on board new media vehicles who, besides offering support to the events hosted by us, have also made an excellent mark as chroniclers of developments in the construction industry.
As a testimony to wonderful editorial presentation and writing this magazine CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES has bagged the Best News magazine Award from 7th CIDC VISHWAKARMA 2015, a Planning Commission body, in the very first year of its existence. That’s a feat to be truly commended.
It is therefore in the fitness of things that we have chosen CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, published by Highland Media as one of the Official Media Partners for bauma CONEXPO INDIA 2016.
This is in recognition of the outstanding editorial support we as an event organiser have received from the magazine from time to time. Furthermore, we have noted with growing admiration how from Day 1 the publication has been at the forefront of putting together all important construction industry topics in an informative and well-structured way. That allows people connected to the construction sector and readers and followers of the industry to gain all necessary information at one glance. And very profitably so.
Against that background it gives me great delight to say that BAUMA CONEXPO INDIA not only values its association and cooperation with CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, but rejoices in announcing it among the Official Media Partners for the 2016 edition of BAUMA CONEXPO INDIA.
We are convinced that our engagement will be mutually constructive and of great benefit to our exhibitors and visitors!
Igor Palka, CEO, bauma CONEXPO INDIAT V Narendran, Managing Director, Tata Steel India and South East Asia

 

SMART URBAN STATS

India’s Smart Cities Mission is intended to provide core infrastructure and to improve quality of life in 500 metropolitan areas. The government has also planned five industrial corridors connecting various major cities with a view to create interlinked industrial and transport zones offering jobs and homes

  • Smart Cities Mission: $7.2 billion (Rs.48,000 crore)
  • Sanctioned Amount: $29.4 million (Rs.194 crore) for 96 selected cities to prepare city plans.
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT): Rs.50,000 crore ($7.5 billion)
  • Areas selected under the programme: 24 state capitals, 24 business and industrial centres, 18 culture and tourism hubs, 5 port cities and 3 education and healthcare hubs.
  • Industrial Corridors: 5 planned, 1 under construction

 

SMART CITIES MISSION: STRATEGIC COMPONENTS

Retrofitting: In retrofitting, an area consisting of more than 500 acres will be identified by the city in consultation with citizens to make the existing area more efficient and liveable. This strategy may also be completed in a shorter time frame, leading to its replication in another part of the city.

Redevelopment: Redevelopment will effect a replacement of the existing built-up environment and enable co-creation of a new layout with enhanced infrastructure using mixed land use and increased density. Redevelopment envisages an area of more than 50 acres, identified by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in consultation with citizens. Bhendi Bazaar Project in Mumbai and East Kidwai Nagar in New Delhi are examples of redevelopment.

Greenfield Development: Such development seeks to introduce most of the Smart Solutions in a previously vacant area (more than 250 acres) using innovative planning, plan financing and plan implementation tools (e.g. land pooling/ land reconstitution) with provision for affordable housing, especially for the poor. One well known example is the GIFT City in Gujarat.
Pan-city Development: Such development envisages application of selected Smart Solutions – use of technology, information and data – to existing city-wide infrastructure to make services better. For example, applying intelligent traffic management system, waste water recycling and smart metering.




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