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Sustainable Infrastructure Trends to Watch in 2024

Sustainable Infrastructure
As we navigate the course towards the future, the direction of India’s infrastructure sector remains profoundly influenced by an unwavering dedication to sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The recently concluded ET Infra Leadership has illuminated crucial perspectives and emerging trends that are poised to sculpt the contours of sustainable infrastructure in the year 2024.

1. Innovative Construction Practices for Eco-Friendly Infrastructure

Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, has played a pivotal role in steering the construction and roads sector towards innovative and eco-friendly practices. Looking ahead to 2024, there is a palpable anticipation of a substantial increase in the adoption of sustainable construction materials, notably steel fiber and precast technology. This shift reflects a conscious effort to mitigate the environmental impact associated with traditional construction methods.
The coming year is poised to witness a notable transformation in the construction landscape, with a heightened emphasis on materials that not only ensure structural integrity but also align with environmental sustainability. Steel fibre, known for its strength and durability, promises not only enhanced structural robustness but also a reduction in reliance on resource-intensive materials. Similarly, precast technology, involving the off-site manufacturing of components, is expected to streamline construction processes while minimising on-site waste.

2. Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Technology for Structural Integrity

C.P. Aggrawal, Director of JAM Infra Pvt Ltd, has shed light on the growing significance of fibre-reinforced polymer rebar technology in infrastructure development. This advanced technology is on the brink of gaining prominence due to its transformative impact on structural integrity. Notably, the integration of fibre-reinforced polymer rebar technology goes beyond traditional construction methods, offering a sustainable alternative that aligns seamlessly with environmental preservation objectives. The inherent strength and durability of this technology contribute not only to the robustness of infrastructure projects but also play a crucial role in minimizing carbon emissions, addressing a key concern in contemporary construction practices.
Looking ahead to 2024, there is an expectation of witnessing the widespread adoption and integration of fibre-reinforced polymer rebar technology in infrastructure projects throughout the country. This anticipated surge reflects a collective commitment to sustainable building practices, where innovations like these become integral to the fabric of the construction industry. As this technology gains momentum, it not only showcases a dedication to structural excellence but also underscores a strategic alignment with broader sustainability goals, marking a pivotal step forward in India’s pursuit of eco-conscious infrastructure development.

3. Water Resource Sustainability and Rehabilitation

Debashree Mukherjee, Secretary of the Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation, has emerged as a vocal advocate for the critical importance of sustainable water resource management. In her compelling discourse, Mukherjee underscored the need for a comprehensive approach to address the challenges surrounding water resources in India. Notably, the forthcoming year, 2024, is poised to witness pivotal trends in this domain, with a heightened focus on the rehabilitation and maintenance of dams, coupled with concerted efforts to recharge groundwater sources.
The emphasis on revitalising and sustaining dams plays a key role in ensuring water security and efficient resource utilization. As ageing infrastructure demands attention, the rehabilitation of dams aligns seamlessly with the broader goal of bolstering the resilience of water management systems. Simultaneously, the concerted efforts to recharge groundwater resources signify a proactive stance towards mitigating water scarcity challenges. These trends are not merely confined to bureaucratic circles but resonate strongly with corporate sustainability goals, highlighting the industry’s commitment to responsible water usage. In 2024, these initiatives are expected to take centre stage, reflecting a harmonious blend of environmental stewardship and strategic resource management in the pursuit of a sustainable and water-secure future.

4. Holistic Approach through PM Gati Shakti

Sumita Dawra, the Special Secretary (Logistics), has illuminated the transformative potential of the PM Gati Shakti Master Plan, setting the stage for its pivotal role in the upcoming year, 2024. This geographically enabled platform represents a paradigm shift in infrastructure planning, going beyond the conventional logistics focus to become a comprehensive driver of progress. As the nation braces for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, the PM Gati Shakti Master Plan is poised to be a cornerstone of strategic development, offering a cohesive framework for streamlined logistics operations and, notably, contributing significantly to the advancement of social infrastructure.
In the coming year, the anticipated influence of the PM Gati Shakti Master Plan extends beyond its logistics-centric functions to encompass a broader commitment to social responsibility. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are expected to take centre stage, with a specific focus on enhancing connectivity in underprivileged communities. Telecom and drinking water connectivity to schools, as highlighted by Dawra, are envisioned as major components of this holistic approach. By integrating these CSR initiatives into the fabric of the master plan, 2024 promises to be a year where infrastructural advancements not only bolster economic growth but also foster inclusivity and sustainable development, embodying a harmonious blend of logistical efficiency and social responsibility.

5. Corporate Responsibility in Clean Drinking Water Initiatives

Pawan Gupta, Senior Vice President of Urban Water and Hydropower at RODIC Consultants has underscored a pivotal aspect of India’s sustainable future by highlighting the accessibility of advanced technology for sewage treatment plants. Gupta’s emphasis on technological solutions in wastewater management signals a turning point where corporations are poised to play a more active and engaged role in addressing water-related challenges. This recognition of advanced sewage treatment technology not only reflects a commitment to environmental stewardship but also heralds a transformative era where businesses become integral partners in the nation’s efforts to ensure access to clean and safe drinking water.
Looking forward to 2024, there is an expectation of increased collaboration between corporations and the government in tackling water-related sustainability challenges. As awareness of water scarcity and pollution grows, businesses are expected to step into a more proactive role, aligning their strategies with national initiatives to purify rivers and enhance water quality. The envisioned collaboration holds the promise of innovative solutions and concerted efforts, marking a significant shift towards a shared responsibility for water conservation. In this era of increased corporate consciousness, the synergy between private enterprises and government initiatives is set to be a driving force in addressing one of the most critical facets of sustainable development – the responsible management of water resources.

6. Green Energy Generation at Ports

Sarbananda Sonowal, the Minister for Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, has unveiled a visionary outlook for Indian ports, hinting at their transformation into hubs for green energy generation. This foresighted approach marks a departure from conventional roles, positioning ports not merely as conduits for trade but as key players in advancing sustainable energy solutions. Minister Sonowal’s vision, articulated during recent discussions, suggests that 2024 will witness a significant uptick in the momentum of this trend. Indian ports are poised to evolve into multifaceted entities, no longer limited to the facilitation of maritime activities but actively contributing to the nation’s ambitious renewable energy goals.
In the coming year, the integration of sustainable practices in port operations promises to be a transformative development to watch closely. Beyond a traditional focus on efficiency, the emphasis on green energy underscores a commitment to environmental responsibility and aligns with global efforts to reduce carbon footprints. As ports evolve into renewable energy hubs, they are set to become exemplars of holistic sustainability, embodying the idea that economic development and ecological stewardship can coexist harmoniously. This shift in the role of ports not only meets the demands of a changing world but also reflects India’s dedication to fostering innovation in the pursuit of a greener and more sustainable future.

7. Phygital Evolution in Material Procurement

The summit’s discourse extended beyond specific projects to shed light on the broader spectrum of construction materials and their resilient supply chains. This focus on the backbone of infrastructure development highlighted the critical role that materials play in ensuring the durability and sustainability of construction projects. As emphasized by Abhilash Pillai, COO of Birla Pivot, the emergence of a “phygital” environment is poised to reshape the landscape of material procurement in 2024. This novel term refers to the seamless integration of digital platforms with traditional procurement methods, presenting a forward-looking approach to streamline processes and enhance the sustainability of material sourcing.
In the coming year, the anticipated shift towards a “phygital” environment signifies a paradigm shift in the way construction materials are acquired, managed, and distributed. This integration of digital platforms not only promises increased efficiency but also aligns with the growing emphasis on responsible and sustainable supply chain management. The fusion of technology and traditional methods holds the potential to create a more transparent, agile, and eco-conscious procurement ecosystem. As industries adapt to this transformative approach, the year 2024 is poised to be a catalyst for positive change in material sourcing practices, contributing to the overarching goal of creating resilient and sustainable infrastructure.

8. Rising Interest in Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs)

Vijay Agrawal, Director at Equirus Capital Pvt Ltd, highlighted the increasing preference for Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs). These financial instruments are not only gaining traction as preferred platforms for holding infrastructure assets but are also aligning with sustainable and socially responsible investment practices. In 2024, we anticipate a continued rise in the public interest and corporate involvement in InvITs, signalling a shift towards responsible investment in infrastructure development.
As we embark on the journey into 2024, these trends underscore a collective commitment to sustainable infrastructure development in India. From innovative construction practices to water resource sustainability and corporate responsibility, each trend reflects a concerted effort to build a future that is not only robust but also environmentally and socially responsible. The evolving landscape of sustainable infrastructure promises a transformative year ahead, marked by progress that goes hand in hand with the principles of sustainability and CSR.