Editor’s Note: This article is one submission in a live Masdar blogging contest (find out the entry requirements here). Very simply, the focus of the contest submissions is to: “Describe your city in 2030: what will occur due to changes in energy, transportation and water technologies, and how will they transform how you live?” We are sharing this submission here on CleanTechnica because we think it’s awesome and because Masdar is sponsoring CleanTechnica in order to raise awareness about this great competition. I have personally engaged in the contest in previous years, and I hope one of our readers wins this year since it would be great to meet you in Abu Dhabi!
Lawmakers in India often claim to make the country’s capital, New Delhi, a modern city much like Shanghai or any other developed city across the world. I, a resident of New Delhi, would rather like the lawmakers and city planners to learn from the experiences of these modern cities and implement measures that take the city closer to an ideal city of the future. These measures would range from renewable energy and water management to public transport and governance.
New Delhi is less than 44 kilometres square in area and is understandably dependent heavily on neighbouring states for power supply. Due to its small area, Delhi is also deficient in renewable energy potential. However, being an urban area, significant potential for rooftop solar power remains quite high. Lawmakers have tried to promote rooftop solar power systems through feed-in tariff regulations. However, the regulations have not yielded fruitful results. One would hope that lawmakers take up educating consumers about the financial benefits of rooftop solar power systems and the city tap the full potential of solar power by 2030.
Another renewable energy resource that holds great potential is municipal solid waste. The city operates a couple of waste-based power plants. With the consistent increase in population, the production of solid waste will only increase. Capacities of the landfills in the city have already been exceeded. Thus, recycling of the waste and methane capture would prove highly beneficial with regard to the city’s waste management and energy self-sufficiency.
With groundwater resources depleting fast due to increasing demand, rainwater harvesting would prove highly beneficial for the water balance of the city. Rainwater harvesting would also help the city avert flood-like situations it is now facing ever more frequently. An increased use of rainwater would help the city reduce dependence on its only river, Yamuna. Rainwater harvesting is already in practice at several government buildings — hopefully it would be adopted by residents of the city as well.
Public transport in Delhi has changed dramatically over the last decade and a half. All road-based public transport is now powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), which has led to a noticeable improvement in air quality. In late 2002, the city launched its metro service, which has been a revolution at so many levels and not just with regard to public transport and improvement in air quality. The Delhi Metro is still expanding and is expected to cover the entire city over the next ten years. It has significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions by offsetting the use of motor vehicles, for which it has been issued Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) from the United Nations as well, the only metro service in the world that can claim such a feat.
City authorities have experimented with hybrid and electricity-powered buses which should ideally replace the fleet of CNG-powered buses. A comprehensive infrastructure for electric and hybrid cars will also help proliferation of such clean vehicles in the consumer segment. Like the National Solar Mission, the Indian government is also working to expand the National Mission on Electric Mobility with urban areas the likely first beneficiaries.
The paramount factor in making Delhi a gen-next city by 2030 would be governance. There needs to be a radical change in the governance in the city so as to significantly increase the participation of common people in decision-making and implementation. None of the sustainability measures mentioned above can be successfully implemented if the end consumers and beneficiaries do not understand and fully subscribe to those ideas. One would expect common people to educate themselves about the financial, health, and environmental benefits of sustainable growth and proactively push the lawmakers to implement such measures.
Hopefully, by 2030, the people of New Delhi will be much more receptive to these sustainable measures of growth and build upon the positives of the modern cities of the west to transform New Delhi into an example for other cities.
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