Budget 2023-24: Laying Foundation For Green Infrastructure   

By Harsh Pareek February 07, 2023

Paving way for the convergence of sustainability and infrastructure, the green growth plan has given a strategic push to build a sustainable future  

Budget 2023-24: Laying Foundation For Green Infrastructure   
Advances in green building and lower-carbon materials are helping to partially offset the embodied carbon emissions. DepositPhotos

In the age of climate change when the world’s resources are stretched, sustainable development has become an important focus for policymakers around the globe. With the population of our country overtaking China, with one-third of China’s land mass, India has to optimise its resources most efficiently and the Government of India is duly seized of this reality.

In fact, it wouldn't be incorrect to say that a dominant theme in the recent Union Budget was its unprecedented focus on sustainability. Green growth - from green energy and green buildings to green equipment - was among the seven areas of concentration that serve as the Government's ‘Saptarishi’ guiding India’s Amrit Kaal journey. With these announcements, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman spelt out a clear view of India’s path towards its target of net zero emissions by 2070.

At the same time, Sitharaman effectively announced scaling up of India’s infrastructure network with a capital expenditure (capex) hike of 33 per cent to Rs 10 lakh crore, a 64 per cent increase in allocation for the PM Awas Yojana to Rs 79,000 crore, and the setting up of a ₹10,000 crore per year Urban Infrastructure Development Fund (UIDF).

On the flip side, the construction industry has historically been the largest contributor to emissions. Globally, almost 40 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are from buildings and construction sector, as per UN’s 2019 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction.

Consequently, as the world grapples with the challenge of global warming and climate change, the world’s largest industry by size and scale is being urged to take concrete steps to control and reduce its carbon footprint. In light of this, the recent Budget comes as a remarkable step towards realising India’s sustainability goals. Paving way for the convergence of sustainability and infrastructure, the green growth plan has laid a strategic foundation to build a sustainable future.

Many of the requirements for the expansion of sustainable infrastructure are already in place. Advances in green building and lower-carbon materials are helping to partially offset the embodied carbon emissions kindled by construction activity, enabling the industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, construction technology companies have an impressive array of cutting-edge construction tools and technologies like Constructible BIM, Augmented and Mixed reality, Machine control, Robotics and Drones, which are all designed to optimise operations, augment productivity and mitigate errors, leading to reduced waste and lesser gross CO2 emissions compared to conventional construction practices.

Approximately 53 per cent of industry leaders put sustainability as a key trend that is expected to accelerate its impact in the industry, as per a McKinsey survey of 100 senior construction executives in 2021. The same year, it was also reported that 82 per cent of architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) companies now have dedicated sustainability teams in place, and 74 per cent of firms are directly investing in technology to improve sustainability.

Even though there is higher awareness and action on the need for sustainable construction, what is missing in many countries are the policies, institutions and financial wherewithal to incorporate green thinking into the design of new infrastructure. By displaying the will to establish a robust institutional structure for smart as well as sustainable projects in every sector, the Government of India has taken a phenomenal step on a long road toward cementing its reputation as a global leader in climate action.

Worldwide, in the coming months this unprecedented opportunity will either be seized or squandered, but in either of the situations, the results will be nothing short of epoch-making. We owe this action to our future generations and hopefully, the world will seize this opportunity and make earth a better place. 

(Harsh Pareek is Regional Sales Director, India and SAARC, Trimble Solutions)