VNIT to train town planners, engineers in sustainable habitat development


With the aim of promoting sustainable development in cities, the Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT) is launching a three year project on training all the stakeholders involved in development and disaster management of cities. The department of science and technology (DST) and government of India sponsored project, costing INR 1.16 crore, will cover Maharashtra and adjoining states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The project titled ‘capacity building for climate change adaptation and mitigation with special focus on sustainable habitat and risk management’ is headed by Rajshree Kotharkar, associate professor, Architecture Department and Planning with Sameer Deshkar, assistant professor from same department and Ratnesh Kumar, assistant professor from Applied Mechanics as the co-principal investigators.

Kotharkar told that the capacity building under the project will be done in three major areas — sustainable habitat, socio-economic vulnerability and livelihood and in extreme events, disasters risk reduction and management. “Based on the results of the entire project a monograph will be developed for future students in various engineering branches related to engineering and sustainable development. To begin with, we will hold a week long course for town planners, administrators, architects, civil engineers, CPWD and PWD engineers and NGOs in green building,” she said.

Green building basically means that it has small foot print of all major resources like land, water, energy, waste and ecological factors. It means that all these resources must be used to the minimum possible extent. “There should less dependability on these resources in sustaining these structures. In fact buildings should be less grid dependent for electricity, water, sewage. These should be maximally recycled. Also all constructions should be inclusive, like disability friendly, and must take care of occupants’ health as well,” said Kotharkar.

Kumar, an earthquake engineer, who will be handling the disaster management part of the project, said that he would be teaching stakeholders about increasing the strength of existing buildings as well as constructing new buildings which will be earthquake resilient. “I would teach designing, evaluating and retrofitting the new and existing structures for earthquakes,” said Kumar.

Deshkar who has expertise in socio-economic vulnerability stresses on the involvement of community in ecological sensitive areas, on how they can respond to disasters like earthquake, heatwave, floods. Basic training will be given in adaptation and preparedness to town planners and NGOs etc
“Since India was a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the country is running a project under the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat. This involves making land use sustainable, transport as per the capacity of the area, reducing the urban heat island (UHI) effect, increasing walkable area, making city disabled and children friendly and increasing the overall vibrancy of the city. We would be also preparing the participants in our courses,” said Kotharkar.
The project will also focus on redrafting the syllabus of the architecture, civil engineering, urban planning subjects in engineering based on the recommendations coming after brain storming on each of the component of the project. “This will equip the future engineers and planners with the new age technology,” said Kotharkar.


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