Environmental sustainability could become the next major challenge as India surges along its projected growth trajectory and the country needs to strike a balance where the benefits of urbanisation are maximized without compromising the environmental benchmarks, a report by the government has said.

According to the ‘India Habitat III-National Report’ released by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, a key environmental concern that India faces is to address environmental challenges triggered by extreme weather conditions, requiring substantial adjustments to urban planning, land-use management and infrastructure strategies and norms.

The report has been released ahead of the UN Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador later this month where a global New Urban Agenda for the next 20 years is going to be adopted.

Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, “The agenda for the next two decades proposed in the National Report will be ensuring economic growth and productivity, improving quality of life and importantly, addressing issues of inclusivity, sustainability and climate change.”

Elaborating on the strategy for transforming urban India, the Minister said it will be achieved through elimination of barriers to the flow of factors of production like capital, land and labour, development of rural and urban areas in a synergetic manner adopting a ‘regional planning approach’, promoting inclusivity by ensuring urban services to all, sustainable urban planning, empowering municipalities to improve governance and deal with exclusion issues, housing for all urban poor and ensuring social justice and gender equity.

“The outcomes of new urban agenda based on sustainable urban planning would include reducing water and electricity use by 50 per cent from that of normal use, enabling over 60 per cent of urban travel by public transport, generating half of power from renewable sources, promoting walking and cycling for last mile connectivity, compact and cluster urban development, promoting natural drainage patterns, reducing waste generation of all kind, promoting greenery and public places,” Naidu added.