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Achieving sustainable infrastructure is the need of the hour, Infra News, ET Infra

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V G Sakthikumar

CHENNAI: As the country takes stock of its infrastructure assets to become a $5 trillion economy by 2027, next-gen innovation and strategic infrastructure investments will help create a nationwide economic transition – India will never be the same.

The prevailing socio-economic disparities will cease to exist, bringing equitable development, when the infrastructure ecosystem and its stakeholders play their part; the three I’s – infrastructure, investments, and inclusion will be the drivers of change and growth.

Let’s look at upcoming mega projects that will bring about equitable growth: the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor – connecting the financial capital to the national capital; the second-largest highway project in India – the Bharatmala; and the Narmada Valley development initiative. In the face of such opportunities and transition, companies along the value chain are equally responsible for making the shift happen.

Therefore, everyone in the ecosystem must understand that infrastructure investments and growth policies can act as an economic stimulus for the country. Along with understanding global infrastructure trends is the need of the hour.

Sustainable infrastructure for a greener future
A sustainable infrastructure is about bringing decarbonization and the energy transition to the equation of an infrastructure project’s success. Pointedly, India aims to achieve net zero by 2070 and by 2030 reduce CO2 emissions by 1 billion metric tons per annum – currently, the construction industry contributes to nearly 40 percent of the carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, decarbonizing engineering, construction, and building materials is becoming a topic of discussion among global infrastructure leaders, as they understand these to be the pathway for achieving sustainable infrastructure. For a greener future, the industry should first adapt to new regulations and prioritize technological investments – that will find new solutions to old problems – such as CO2 emissions and capital to deliver the needed infrastructure facilities at the required scale and pace without disrupting the environment.

Investments need to stay ahead of the curve

Currently, the world invests about $3 trillion in infrastructure annually, but over the next ten years, that amount is expected to triple as the industry works to meet the sustainable development goals in developing countries. Establishing capital and policy support to reduce risk of the private sector, use of technology to radically reduce waste, digitization of processes for better collaboration, transparency during the project implementation, and finally, workforce development and economic growth should be the investment goals to stay ahead of the curve.

Governments and financial institutions may unleash new economic activity, create local jobs, improve public health outcomes, and put cities on a path of prosperity and sustainable long-term growth by making significant investments in infrastructure around tier-2 and tier-3 cities in India.

Embrace the power of technology

Not every organization has all the resources or capabilities to do everything by itself. Infra-leaders need to collaborate with tech companies to co-develop the technology needed for the industry.
Mobilization of such technology can have a significant environmental, financial, and project completion impact. For example, electric vehicles are crucial for decarbonization – it’s impossible to meet net-zero commitments without pushing their use at construction sites. EVs are less complex and require less effort to operate than traditional fuel systems.

Similarly, smart infrastructure uses technologies such as IoT, which connects different elements and provides operators with a platform to anticipate situations, allowing them to make real-time decisions and make construction sites safer.

The case for equitable growth

The need for inclusivity is central to infrastructure growth. The industry needs to overcome reputational setbacks to attract young and broader talent – not only engineers but other working professionals in addition to labour positions. It is only possible when equitable growth and inclusivity are assured both at the social and economic levels.

Students from many tier-2 and tier-3 cities are looking for opportunities through various skill development programs. It’s critical to prime their learning systems and prepare them as skilled infrastructure workers.

When infrastructure projects such as Bharatmala connect those cities with the infra-developers, it spurs economic growth as well.

Finally, sustainable infrastructure can create new jobs, stimulate economic growth, and increase productivity. By investing in sustainable infrastructure, governments can attract private investments, which can create a multiplier effect on the economy. This can help reduce poverty and inequality and improve the quality of life for all people in India.

(V G Sakthikumar is the Chairman and Managing Director, Schwing Stetter India. This article was written exclusively for ET Infra)

  • Published On Feb 27, 2024 at 08:14 AM IST

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