The population of Delhi is expected to touch 23 million by 2021, a rise of almost 40 per cent in just two decades. As experts debate over the requirement of high-rises to accommodate the increase in the number of people, another debate is brewing on whether Delhi is prepared to take the strain of vertical growth on its water, roads, power and waste management facilities.
Delhi will need an additional 1,000 MGD water, 4,250 MW of power and disposal of 20,000 metric tonnes of solid waste per day. Even at present, statistics show that there is deficiency in the availability of amenities such as parking, housing, power and water among others.
Ramesh Negi, CEO of Delhi Jal Board, says that while DJB is not against vertical expansion, the exercise will mean a huge overhaul of the existing infrastructure. "When water and sewer lines were laid decades ago, it was done keeping in mind the fact that Delhi allowed just 2.5-storey houses. With vertical expansion, there will be a need for more water and more sewerage facilities," he said.
Negi added that the supply of raw water from Ganga, Yamuna and Sutlej has been frozen and if vertical growth is allowed, the freeze will have to be lifted so that more water is made available. "It is not an impossible task but the government will have to intervene in order to change policies that can support the growth," he said.
However, AK Jain, former Commissioner (Planning), DDA, believes that vertical height will actually conserve more energy and lead to a more judicious usage of resources. "The per capita land will decrease to just 40 sq metres by 2021, so vertical growth is the only way out. Through vertical growth, the per capita consumption of energy such as electricity will actually come down," he said.
Commenting on the current floor area ratio (FAR) allowed, Noor Mohammad, retired member secretary, NCR Planning Board, said that FAR is very low because the infrastructure does not allow bigger FARs, mostly due to the inefficient use of urban renewal funds. "The urban renewal mission is aimed at upgradation of infrastructure to keep up with the pressure of increased population, but it has been used ineffectively," he said.
One of the biggest problems that Delhi would face would be to dispose off the garbage. Delhi produces 9,000 tonnes of solid waste from household and other establishments every day. All three landfill sites have, however, already reached their saturation point, posing a huge challenge to the disposal of more garbage. The MCD, which looks after sanitation, has prepared a plan for building more waste recycling plants to dispose off the garbage.