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

According to the ‘India Habitat III – National Report’ released by the Union 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.

UN meet

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 will 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 inclusiveness, sustainability and climate change.”

Elaborating on the strategy for transforming urban India, the Minister said it would be achieved through elimination of barriers to the flow of capital, land and labour; development of rural and urban areas through a ‘regional planning approach’; promoting inclusiveness by ensuring urban services to all; sustainable urban planning; empowering municipalities to improve governance; and dealing 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 etc,” Naidu added.