Light House Projects Are The Force Multipliers In Making Of New Urban India
The challenges of new urban India are dynamic. As aspirations for better economic and employment opportunities soar, more and more people are thronging towards cities. By estimates, nearly 40 per cent of the population will expectedly inhabit in urban centres when we enter the year 2030.
Naturally, urban India’s housing needs are ever growing. COVID-19 pandemic has further reinforced the need for mass and affordable housing in cities. In the wake of lockdown during back to back summers (of the year 2020 and 2021), the economic activities halted leading to loss of earnings and livelihoods.
Hordes of migrant working population living in rented accommodation are forced to go back to their villages. They come to cities in search of better quality of life but end up in poor living conditions with limited access to proper civic amenities. An affordable, safe and secured house would have cushioned the impact in their lives up to a large extent.
These are challenging times but also throws open windows of new opportunities. To cater to the existing and imminent humungous challenge of housing in urban India, India needs new speed, scale and spectrum.
The Year 2021 has given new direction to India’s construction landscape. As a Nation, we joined the bandwagon of the best in globally proven construction technology. In what is a landmark for new beginnings in the sector, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of six Light House Projects (LHPs) across as many States in the country.
LHPs comprise of homes being made under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U), which is one of the world’s largest affordable housing Missions.
Whereas the brick and mortar technology in construction is time consuming and leads to increased overhead costs, LHPs will serve as prudent financial strategy.
Just for perspective, normally, by using the traditional technology, about 1000 houses each at the six LHP sites would have taken about 24- 36 months but now, under LHPs, that period will get reduced to about 12 months only. LHPs will be manifestation of disruptive technology in construction sector.
PMAY-U promotes the use of best forms of construction technology which can be leveraged to give impetus to welfare and Nation’s development trajectory. LHPs will stand out for India’s pursuit in innovation, excellence, adaptation and Self-reliance (AatmaNirbhar Bharat).
As I write this, construction of these LHPs at Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Rajkot (Gujarat), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Agartala (Tripura) and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) are in full swing. LHPs will lead to adoption of construction technologies that are resource efficient, sustainable, climate resilient, cost effective and suited to diverse geo-climatic conditions and topography. This will, in turn, help in faster pace of delivery.
The six LHPs have been chosen from a basket of 54 technologies shortlisted under Global Housing Technology Challenge –India (GHTC-India), held in March 2019, to encourage competition in technology .
LHPs are Live Laboratories for onsite and offsite learning, facilitating transfer of technology to the field and its further replication. It is intended that large scale citizen participation and technical awareness may be created for on-site learning, deliberations, experimentation and encouraging innovation, thereby mainstreaming these global technologies in Indian context.
These Live Laboratories will serve as practical grounds to soil the hands on emerging technologies which otherwise would have taken a very long time to get absorbed.
The ongoing six innovative LHP projects have been introduced for familiarization, adaption and adaptation of construction technologies, materials and processes suited to Indian geo-climatic and other conditions so that they may be replicated for construction in other development projects of Government bodies and Private sectors.
We hope to increase the footprint of innovative technologies in projects developed by private sectors, CPWD, NBCC, Defence, Railways etc. These will go on to demonstrate firm resolve to address issues of climate change by reducing the carbon footprints, thermal comfort, CND waste reduction, reduction of construction period etc.
Recently, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) launched a program of Techograhis for enrolling all stakeholders interested in learning different phases of use of innovative technologies in LHPs through site visits or offsite workshops, webinars, webcasting, mentoring on technical know-how/ module etc. Technograhis are the change agents of innovative and sustainable technologies to transform the landscape of new urban India. So far, over 3,300 stakeholders have enrolled themselves as Technograhis.
LHPs have demonstrative effect wherein people from all sectors such as Faculty and students of Engineering/ planning/ architecture institutes, builders/developers, innovators, policy makers will be able to see, get exposed to site and learn the use of innovative technologies on ground.
LHPs will be beacons of latest construction technology and help unleash a process of technology adoption by people, thereby creating an adaptive mind for its acceptance. Prime Minister Modi, while laying the foundation stone of LHPs advocated strongly that they “will become a very big scope of education in itself’ and invited ‘all the young engineers and technicians in particular of the country to draw as much light as they can from these lighthouses and contribute their share’.
The enrolment process for Technograhis has begun and site visits by Technograhis will begin from mid April.
People are the prime movers of the PAMY-U and it is their enhanced quality of life after moving into a pucca house, that represents the Mission’s success.
The Mission aims at larger common good and becoming the paragon of construction technology in India. While it is progressing at a determined pace, these technologies will be the harbinger of construction technology which will propel India to take up the challenge of future .
(The author is Joint Secretary and Mission Director, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, Government of India)