It is unfortunate that the government of India is interested in easing the green norms that has so protected the urban environment. Now high-rise buildings may no longer attract the green norms that the environment ministry has been enforcing so far. The government is keen to relax the rules in order to foster growth in the real estate business which has been hit by high interest rates and which have been protesting the environmental standards. The government proposes to de-link the height of buildings from the width of roads. The government had constituted the Kasturirangan committee to examine this issue, which recommended the removal of the linkage between building heights and road width provided that the buildings are safe. While the government’s move may be attractive on paper, it is not feasible and is a regressive step as far as ecologically sustainable buildings are concerned. India had inaugurated with much fanfare the concept of green buildings and now seems to be unwilling to pursue the idea.
When green norms are not adhered to, they lead to a concrete jungle, as the example of Gurgaon amply demonstrates. In this urban sprawl, although it’s often cited as the epitome of a modern conurbation, environmental regulations are routinely flouted, causing serious ecological degradation of the region. It is no longer possible to manage urban spaces in an environmentally feasible manner unless sustainability is not taken into account. The easing of the green norms has the potential to completely wipe out the concept of a green building, structures that are environmentally responsible and are also resource-efficient. The building remains so during its entire life-cycle, starting from its construction, operation, and maintenance. The real estate industry must understand that it needs to closely cooperate with the government and with the architects and engineers, instead of opposing progressive concepts. The government too must not put the interests of commerce above that of ensuring long-term sustainability of our natural habitat.