Mahindra-TERI Center of Excellence for Sustainable Habitats

20 Jun 2016 31 Mar 2021

The Center of Excellence aims at developing a robust and coherent database for market-ready, scalable and energy-efficient materials and technologies. It also works towards preparing policy briefs for Central and State Ministries to promote 'green' development that can transform India's housing industry and thereby help reduce the country's carbon footprint. Research output will be validated on the field prior to dissemination of databases, guidelines and standards to the real estate and building materials industry. The research output, which will be available in the public domain, will aim at wider adoption of its recommendations by developers, architects and individual home owners.

The CoE will adopt a tiered approach to implement, review and ensure deliverables. A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), comprising industry leaders and practitioners, will provide technical oversight to research activities. Located in Gurugram, the CoE is SVA-GRIHA 5-star rated and incorporates various sustainability principles and design strategies espoused by the CoE.

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Water Sustainability Assessment of Chennai

Report launched on: 5th June, 2021

Author: Tarishi Kaushik, Akash Deep

The report launch by the Mahindra-TERI Centre of Excellence and the consequent discussions on water sustainability issues in Chennai was held on the occasion of World Environment Day 2021

Water sustainability

Growing population, expanding economies, increasing urbanisation, and changing lifestyles have had a major impact on our economic, social, and environmental wellbeing. An important impact among these has been increased pressure on already strained water resources. Rapid population growth and rising consumption and pollution levels, are contributing to increasing water insecurities in urban India. The simultaneous depletion of water resources and rising demand leave limited possibilities to augment water supply for the future. Further, more pronounced effects of climate change such as increased magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events and altered precipitation volume and pattern shall also have adverse effects on the available sources of fresh water supply.

In the summer of 2019, multiple reservoirs in Chennai ran dry, resulting in rows of empty pots dotting the pavements and people lining up for supplies from water tankers. For a city that gets an average of 1,400 mm of rainfall a year and had suffered heavy floods just four years ago in 2015, this was unprecedented.

Cities in India have been experience increased water woes over the years. Water stress has specifically deepened in cities like Chennai, Gurugram, Pune, Delhi etc. with depleting groundwater levels, widening gap between water demand and supply, and rising pollution of water bodies, to name a few issues. In order to combat these issues, there is a need to enhance sustainable water flow and management in cities.

It is in this background that the Mahindra-TERI Centre of Excellence (MTCoE) carried out a study to assess water sustainability in Chennai, Gurugram, and Pune. This report is based on the water sustainability assessment of Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA), with the study identifying potential risks associated with water sources, governance, infrastructure, and demand and supply, and recommendations to mitigate the same. The report pictures the future of water sustainability in CMA and the concerns related to it.

MTCoE is a joint research initiative of Mahindra Lifespaces (MLDL) and TERI, which aims to develop science-based solutions for India's future built environment, with a view to reduce the energy footprint of the real estate industry. Sustainable water use in habitats is one of the research activities being carried out. This includes both macro and micro level analysis in terms of water efficiency, conservation, and management within a premise by end users.

For the study, a desk-based research was carried out by exploring different types of literature. A number of official reports and documents, Acts etc. by the state government (Tamil Nadu), urban local bodies, municipalities and other concerned institutions, including research by private organisations, were studied.

The study has analysed various parameters i.e. city growth, land use, demographics and social and economic character, water policies and institutional setup at central, state and city level, water sources and its related infrastructure, that are essential to find avenues for water sustainability, quantify anthropogenic and natural flows into and out of the area, and develop a metaphorical framework of water metabolism of the area to analyse flows of water within it and selection of dominant indicators that impact urban hydrology.

The study of these parameters has led to the identification of potential risks associated with the CMA's urban hydrology and its management. To overcome these threats, there are a list of recommendations. The report also goes a step further to identify the reasons for the weak implementation of the proposed recommendations and suggest measures for strengthening it.

The research includes a study of the past and present data on water management based on which projections for the year 2025 on potential risks have been computed. The results of the study are summarised below:

Chennai Metropolitan Area

S.No. Parameters affecting water management Year 2011 Year 2019 Year 2025 (estimated) Potential risks to water sustainability
1 Land use type - Built Up (in km2) 374.3 (year 1997) 608.3 708.3 Increased intensity of floods during monsoons due to reduction in catchment area with shrinking water bodies and green cover because of expansion of built-up area, encroachment, and waste disposal.
2 Land use type - Water Bodies (in km2) 117 (year 1997) 50.7 38.4
3 Population (in lakhs) 86,53,521 1,03,72,643 1,18,82,610 Increased burden on water resources and water supply infrastructure due to rapid rise in population with increased water demand.
4 Domestic water demand (in MLD) 1,730 2,074 2,236.5
5 Waste water generation (in MLD) 1,384 1,659 1,789.2 Increased discharge of untreated sewage into natural waterways, degrading their quality due to inadequate sewage treatment capacities.  
6 Sewage treatment plant capacity (in MLD) 558 727 1878.6
  • Considering the existing urban growth trend in Chennai City, the built-up area is estimated to increase to 708.3 km2 in 2025 from 608.3 km2 in 2019, thrice of what was in 1997 and water bodies will continue to shrink to 38.4 km2 by 2025 in comparison to 50.7 km2 in 2019, three times less than the year 1997.
  • The region is going to experience an unpredictable pattern of rainfall over the coming years due to rapidly changing climate, extreme El Nino conditions, and continuous warming of the Bay of Bengal off the Tamil Nadu coast, thus making it difficult to predict the rainfall intensity and period, making it challenging for the authorities to be prepare accordingly. This could also lead to the water storage capacity in the reservoirs fluctuating throughout the year. This increasing risk of flooding in the CMA can be further attributed to years of illegal development and inadequate levels of flood preparedness.
  • Chennai is going to experience a rapid rise in population. By 2025 the population will stand at around 8 million with increased water demand at 2,236.5 MLD, requiring augmentation of the capacity of water treatment plants from 1,294 MLD (as of 2019) to 2,348.3 MLD.
  • The quantity of wastewater generated in Chennai City is estimated to increase to 1,789.2 MLD in 2025. The existing installed capacity of STP of 727 MLD would prove insufficient to treat the wastewater generated, thus polluting the natural water ways. This capacity, therefore, needs to be increased to 6 MLD.

The study also highlights the concerns related to unavailability of updated groundwater data, thus leading to inefficient regulation of groundwater use by the administration, resulting in continuous exploitation.

The study integrates both macro and micro level (water audits of residential townships in CMA) analysis in this assessment, which shows the prevalence of unsustainable water use pattern by the end user, resulting in increased water wastage.

In order to combat these rising urban water issues, there is a need to enhance sustainable water flow and management in cities. The key recommendations suggested for sustainable water management based on the identified potential risks are summarised here:

  • Robust stakeholder engagement with discussion on the potential risks to water sustainability in Chennai City and develop risk mitigation plans accordingly.
  • Developing policies and designing measures towards protecting the region's ecosystems in order to strengthen both the natural and urban water flow system.
  • Propagation and adoption of water conservation practises such as rainwater harvesting, wastewater recycling and reuse etc. in order to meet the rising water demand due to rapid demographic changes.
  • Strengthening of the water governance structure and administration by strict enforcement of rules, ensuring no overlapping of functions, and establishing a transparent and participatory mechanism through capacity building and training programmes.
  • Identification and filling up of data gaps related to groundwater availability, extraction and use by conducting detailed surveys.
  • Emphasis on the development of water-efficient infrastructure with new and innovative technologies.
  • Enhanced water use efficiency by the end-user.

More such studies should be conducted for various cities in the country that are facing water stress, using an approach that integrates all the aspects such as source management and water/wastewater/storm water infrastructure etc., like the one followed in this study. This shall provide a holistic view of the water scenario and the inter connectedness of these aspects, thus helping design effective and implementable solutions.


Water Sustainability Assessment of Pune

Author: Tarishi Kaushik, Akash Deep

According to The World Bank, urban population in India was estimated to be 34.5% in the year 20191. There has been an increase in urbanization by almost 4% in the last decade due to growing migration of people from rural areas to cities in search of better job opportunities. It is estimated that at this rate by year 2030 and further in 2050, population of people living in Indian cities will go beyond 40% and 50% respectively2.

Pune report

With a growing population, expanding economies, urbanization, and changing lifestyles this has had a major impact on our economic, social and environmental wellbeing due to increasing pressure on already strained water resources. The rapid population growth along with rising consumption levels and pollution is contributing in increasing water insecurities in urban India. The depleting water resources on the one hand, rising water demand on the other, leave limited possibilities to augment the water supply in the coming future. Rising effects of climate change may further aggravate the situation by generating higher magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events and also by altering the precipitation volume & pattern, which shall have adverse effects on the available sources of fresh water supply.

Water stress has specifically magnified for metropolitan cities like Chennai, Delhi, Pune, etc. with depleting groundwater levels, widening of water demand and supply gap and rising pollution of water bodies to name a few.

In this context, Mahindra-TERI Centre of Excellence (MTCoE) carried out a study to assess the water sustainability in the cities of Chennai, Gurugram and Pune. This report shows the water sustainability assessment of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad cities, with study identifying potential risks associated with water sources, governance, infrastructure and demand & supply and provide recommendations to combat those risks.

MTCoE is a joint research initiative of Mahindra Lifespaces (MLDL) and TERI, which aims to develop science-based solutions for India’s future built environment, with a view to reduce the energy footprint of the real estate industry. Sustainable water use in habitats is one of the research activities being carrying out which includes both macro and micro level analysis in terms of water efficiency, conservation and management within a premise by end users.

The research was conducted by studying the past and existing data on water management, based on which projections for the year 2025 on potential risks were computed. The results of the study are summarized as follow:

S.No. Parameters affecting water management Year 2011 Year 2019 Year 2025 Potential risks to water sustainability
Pune City (PMC area)
1 Land use type - Built Up (in km2) 155.9 182.55 205.49 Increased intensity of floods during monsoons due to reduction in catchment area with shrinking water bodies and green cover because of built up expansion, encroachment and waste disposal.
2 Land use type - Water Bodies (in km2) 4.1 4.02 3.97
3 Population
(in lakhs)
31,24,458 37,29,117 42,67,485 Increased burden on water resources and water supply infrastructure due to rapid rise in population with increased water demand.
4 Domestic water demand (in MLD) 605 745.8 853.5
5 Waste water generation
(in MLD)
586 596.6 682.8 Increased discharge of untreated sewage into natural waterways degrading its quality due to inadequate sewage treatment capacities.  
6 Sewage treatment plant capacity (in MLD) 527 567 567
 
Pimpri Chinchwad City (PCMC area)
1 Land use type - Built Up (in km2) 91.42 138 187.94 Increased intensity of floods during monsoons due to reduction in catchment area with shrinking water bodies and green cover because of built up expansion, encroachment and waste disposal.
2 Land use type - Water Bodies (in km2) 3.18 2.99 2.86
3 Population
(in lakhs)
17,29,359 26,59,149 34,97,819 Increased burden on water resources and water supply infrastructure due to rapid rise in population with increased water demand.
4 Domestic Water demand (in MLD) 294 439 577
5 Waste water generation (in MLD) 296 351.2 461.6 Increased discharge of untreated sewage into natural waterways degrading its quality due to inadequate sewage treatment capacities.  
6 Sewage treatment plant capacity (in MLD) 261 317 317

In addition to this, the region is expected to experience an unpredictable rainfall pattern over the coming years due to rapidly changing climate, thus adding up to the rising flood risk. This would also result in fluctuating water storage levels in the reservoirs, thus widening the water demand & supply gap due to decreased water availability from natural water resources during dry months.

The study also highlights the concern related to unavailability of updated groundwater data thus leading to inefficient regulation of groundwater use by the administration, resulting in continuous exploitation.

The study integrates both macro and micro level (water audits of residential townships in Pimpri Chinchwad) analysis in this assessment, which shows the prevalence of unsustainable water use pattern by the end user, resulting in increased water wastage.

And therefore in order to combat these rising urban water issues, there is a need to enhance the sustainable water flow and management in cities. The key recommendations suggested for sustainable water management based on the identified potential risks are summarised here:

S.No. Domain Recommendations
1 Environment
  • Development of city flood mitigation and adaptation plan.
  • Revival of degraded water bodies (lakes and rivers)
  • Ensuring no encroachments and waste disposal in water bodies
2 Socio-Demographic
  • Development of potential water sources like – rainwater harvesting systems and reuse of treated waste water for bridging the water demand & supply gap
3 Governance
  • Devolution of functions for groundwater management to avoid overlapping and establishing a transparent and participatory mechanism in place
  • Stringent legal measures on ground water extraction and its strict implementation
  • Identification and filling up of data gaps related to groundwater use by conducting detailed surveys
  • Capacity building and training of existing and new recruits of government staff, municipalities, boards and other parastatal working in water supply and management, to strengthen work practices and thereby improving their overall performance
  • Overhauling water pricing norms by developing financial incentives like rebates on water bills and penalties for water wastage & leakage
4 Infrastructure
  • Refurbishing the old water supply network
  • Expansion of water and sewerage network pan city
  • 100% coverage of metered connection across the city to ensure fair revenue collection and controlled water usage.
5 Consumption pattern
  • Sensitization of user on water saving measures
  • Robust stakeholder involvement

More such studies for various cities across the country should be conducted facing water stress conditions, using the approach which integrates all the aspects such as source management, water/wastewater/storm water infrastructure etc., like the one followed in the study of this report.

The report envisages the future of the water sustainability in Pune and concerns related to it. It is expected that the report will have the following impacts:

  • Initiation of the discussion by the concerned stakeholders on the potential risks to water sustainability in the cities of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad and develop the risk mitigation plans accordingly.
  • Developing policies and designing measures towards protecting the regions ecosystems in order to strengthen both the natural and urban water flow system.
  • Propagation and adoption of water conservation practises like rainwater harvesting, waste water recycle and reuse etc. in order to meet the rising water demand due to rapid demographic changes.
  • Strengthening of the water governance structure and administration by strict rules enforcement, ensuring no overlapping of functions, establishing a transparent and participatory mechanism through capacity building and training programmes.
  • Emphasis on development of water efficient infrastructure with new and innovative technologies.
  • Enhanced water use efficiency by the end user.

Footnotes:

[1] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.URB.TOTL.IN.ZS?end=2019&locations=IN&start=1960
[2] https://www.thestatesman.com/business/urban-population-india-may-go-beyond-50-2050-mohua-secretary-1502757868.html

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