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Best cities in India

Tips To Make Your Home Monsoon Ready

July 13, 2016
Palava-Blog-Monsoon-Ready-Home

After being belted by the summer heat, it’s round two for your house! But this time, it is the monsoon season. The rainy season makes you vulnerable to diseases and turns your house into a breeding ground for insects and bugs. It also causes dampness, humidity, leaking walls, followed by fungus build-up etc. But this doesn’t mean you wait for the season to get over and do nothing about it. No sir, you’ve got a job to do, i.e. save your house from the wrath of the monsoon.

Here are some simple tips that can come in handy:

Use dry cloth or special cleaning solutions on your furniture: There must be a reason why companies design special cleaning agents for cleaning your wooden furniture! Clearly, water is not your furniture’s friend. So instead of using water, use special cleaning agents to clean wooden surfaces. These products are readily available online. Well, if you want to avoid using the chemicals, try replacing the water with a dry cloth.

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Consider replacing your floor cleaning agent: Monsoon is like a festive season for pests, rodents, bugs and other such creepy crawlies that pose a threat to you and your family’s health. They also damage your precious furniture and other stuff. This season switch your regular cleaning agent for ones that keeps bugs and insects away. Also, try and dry mop the floors as much as possible to prevent dampness in your home.

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Make sure the drains are prepared for the rains: Remember to unclog the drains every week, because you don’t want to end up with clogged drains and the water from the drains running all over your house. This one can be a major problem. Apart from the foul smell and dampness, it breeds insects and other bugs that can cause serious health complications.

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Do away with loose wires, ASAP!: Fix any unattended or loose wires in the house before it starts raining. However, if you stumble upon a faulty wire then instead of ignoring it, get it repaired without wasting a minute. These faulty wires are tragedies waiting to happen. Water leakage can cause short circuits and eventually start sparks and fires.

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Fix any leakages and cracks in the corners: Mostly heavy rains are responsible for leakages which are very annoying and the damage after, a very expensive affair. These leaking spots cause the water to seep into your home and cause dampness. There are different adhesives readily available are apt in stopping any sort of water leakages.

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But as the old saying goes, ‘precaution is better than cure’, prevent any water damage and enjoy the monsoon season with your family.

 

Happy Monsoons!

Credits: http://www.homecues.com/blog/2016/06/14/act-soon-before-its-monsoon-tips-to-make-your-house-monsoon-ready/

Smart Cities- The Rising Trend

June 25, 2016
Palava-Smart-City-Lodha-India-Mumbai

Find out how urban city development initiatives are fulfiling India’s need to comply with the smart city trend.

Ever since the Narendra Modi-led NDA government assumed office in Delhi, the public discourse on urban development in India has been dominated by “smart cities”. However, debates on this topic have often been misinformed since there is a lack of clarity on what exactly a smart city is. Interestingly, the guidelines of the government’s Smart City Mission itself state that “there is no universally accepted definition of a Smart City” since “it means different things to different people”.

While globally the term has become synonymous with the use of technology and data for improving various aspects of a city, in India the usage has been less precise. Much of the initial discussion implied that smart cities would be entirely new cities. In fact, the 2014 election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party promised to build “100 new cities; enabled with the latest in technology and infrastructure”.

Hence, when the Modi government announced its plan to create “100 smart cities”, the presumption was that India would get 100 new cities. It was only in June 2015 when it officially launched the Smart City Mission that the contours of India’s smart city policy got some clarity.

One year after its launch, it’s now clear that the Smart City Mission is not about building 100 new cities– it instead aims to make existing cities, in fact only certain designated areas within them, smart. While the Mission also requires each city to have a pan-city initiative, the thrust is to develop a compact area within a city through retrofitting or redevelopment of an existing built-up area or greenfield development of a vacant area.

While smart cities in India are now closely identified with the Smart City Mission, the vacuousness of the term has led to it being invoked for various forms of urban development. If we examine just Mumbai and its surrounding areas, we can get a sense of how different kinds of smart cities are sought to be created in different locations.

The many smart cities of Mumbai

Under the Smart City Mission, there are four different smart cities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region- Greater Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan-Dombivili.

The smart city proposals of these cities focus on developing certain pockets of the city– Lower Parel in the case of Mumbai and Koperkhairane in the case of Navi Mumbai– and also promote the deployment of smart technologies. Interestingly, the municipal corporations of some of these cities had expressed reservations about the governance structure of the proposed smart cities and eventually, none of the cities in the region were selected in the first round of funding under the Mission.

Independent of the Smart City Mission, the City and Industrial Development Corporation, a state government agency, is developing the seven southern nodes– Kharghar, Kamothe, Kalamboli, Pushpak, Panvel, Ulwe and Dronagiri– in its Navi Mumbai (South) Smart City project. The Corporation also has a greenfield urban development project near the new Navi Mumbai airport called the Pushpak Nagar Smart City, spread across 230 hectares. Much of the developments in the Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area, which covers 561 sq.km are also marketed as a “smart city”.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority is the other state agency which has caught the smart city bug. It is developing Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex as a smart city by providing Wi-Fi connectivity, surveillance systems and smart parking facility. It is also developing 5 hubs along the proposed 126-km Virar-Alibaug Multi-Modal Corridor– Vasai-Virar, Bhiwandi, Greater Kalyan, Greater Panvel and Pen-Alibaug– as smart cities.

Along with state agencies, there are also private players which are creating their own versions of smart cities in the Mumbai region. Palava built by the Lodha Group is the most prominent example of a private smart city. It has partnered with IBM to introduce smart governance through measures like intelligent security systems. Another interesting initiative near Mumbai is the Khalapur Smart City where a set of farmers in 11 villages have pooled 3,550 hectares of land to create an integrated township in partnership with the City and Industrial Development Corporation.

Smart Cities as a marketing trope

As the case of Mumbai illustrates, multiple avatars of smart cities are being built in various locations. The narrative on smart cities in India is hence not restricted to cities under the government’s Smart City Mission. Rather, the term is being invoked for a variety of modernist urban projects whether it’s building new cities, applying technological fixes to existing cities, development of hubs along industrial corridors, retrofitting certain areas within a city or building private townships. By invoking the term “smart city”, these varied urban developments are able to legitimise and market themselves better.

Indian cities are dominated by unplanned developments, an informal economy and messy local politics. This urban realty is increasingly coming under challenge in the post-liberalised era with private capital seeking to reshape the nature of the city. In this context, smart cities are being promoted by the state and the market to create more ordered forms of urban development. The term “smart city” has thus become a trope for promoting a variety of capital-driven planned urban initiatives that is at odds with the predominant forms of urban realty in India.

This article first appeared on Scroll.

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Solar Power Succeeds Through The Roof

June 16, 2016
Palava uses solar power

Find out how a higher solar power plant capacity of 525 MW and new technology is going to make the adoption rate of solar power go through the roof.

Educational institutions, commercial establishments and apartment complexes in India are increasingly turning to rooftop solar projects, reducing their power bills and carbon footprint.

India has an ambitious target of achieving 100 GW solar power capacity by 2022, of which 40 GW is expected to come from rooftop solar projects and the rest from other large and ultra mega solar power plants.

At the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, a rooftop solar project meets 20% of the power requirement within the campus. In late 2012, Mahindra Solar One, a Mahindra group firm, won a tender to install solar panels on the rooftops of buildings at the IIT at a cost of around Rs.7 crore. Rooftops of 13 of the academic buildings within the campus are now fitted with solar panels. The project has a total capacity of 1 MW and generates 1.5 million units of electricity in a year.

“Our power consumption is so high that whatever capacity of solar plants we put, it is always going to be less than actual consumption at any given time. So, whatever power we are producing, it is consumed in the campus, particularly within the academic areas like classes, laboratories or offices,” said Chetan Solanki, professor in the department of energy science and engineering at IIT Bombay.

Solanki said the institute has been able to save around Rs.75 lakh in power bills since it started using solar power. The total amount of electricity bill it currently pays is Rs.25-28 crore a year.

Solanki has also incubated a solar power company called Kwatt Solutions Pvt. Ltd at the institute’s incubation centre. So far, the firm has installed 500 kW of rooftop solar panels at four educational institutes in Indore, Hyderabad and Nagpur.

Others such as the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad and Bengaluru are also looking at installing rooftop solar power plants.

IIM Bangalore currently uses solar power to heat 60,000 litres of water daily in its hostels, management development centre and all staff quarters. It is also used to generate steam for cooking at the hostel mess, where meals for around 1,000 students are cooked every day.

“We are planning to install a 300-400 kilowatt peak (kWP) capacity solar rooftop power plant. A feasibility study in regard has already been completed,” said Vasudeva M, Manager, electrical section (estates department), IIM Bangalore.

Similarly, IIM Ahmedabad is also looking at installing rooftop solar power plants at most of its new infrastructure within the campus.

Commercial buildings and offices are also plugging into solar energy. Many of the commercial buildings of India’s largest real estate company DLF Ltd, including three shopping malls, have been using solar power for the past three years.

Solar panels installed on the roofs of DLF’s commercial buildings have a total capacity of around 2 MW and can generate an estimated electricity of about 2.5 million units a year. An official of the company said the amount of electricity generated by these solar panels currently makes up only a small portion to its total consumption—in addition, the tariff paid is almost same as grid power.

“However, going forward, we expect solar-based electricity would be cheaper by about 20-25% than grid power. Right now, higher capex has been the biggest challenge so far. But that would soon be over once new technologies come in,” a DLF official said on the condition of anonymity.

Recently, Walmart India announced a plan to install rooftop solar power plants with a total capacity of 5 MW in 15 of its wholesale stores in five states. The company has tied up with Amplus Energy Solutions Pvt. Ltd for the initiative.

Mumbai-based real estate firm Lodha Group is running a pilot project using solar energy at Palava, a 4,500-acre township which it is currently developing in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The rooftop solar panels installed in their residential buildings can generate 62,000 units of electricity, which have led to savings of around Rs.10 lakh since 2012.

“The pilot has been extremely successful, we plan to scale up to 4 lakh units (of electricity) by next year and are also evaluating setting up a solar farm,” said Shaishav Dharia (regional chief executive officer), Lodha Group.

Besides, residences, malls and other commercial establishments, office buildings are trying to harness solar energy and bring down the cost of their daily operation. For instance, 60% of the rural branches (around 150) of a non-banking financial company (NBFC) Fullerton India have started using solar power since the past three-four years.

“We are the only NBFC in India that uses solar energy to power our branches, eliminating the need for diesel-powered generator back-up. As of December 2015, the company has saved 116,000 litres of diesel,” said Rakesh Makkar, (executive vice-president and head of urban and rural business), Fullerton India.

The company plans to add solar energy systems at another 36 of its rural branches by the first half of 2016.

While industry experts said the current phenomenon is “just a tip of the iceberg”, it is expected to pick up as newer technologies enter the space and with the government encouraging to use solar energy by providing subsidies and tax incentives.

As per a report by Bridge to India, a consulting and knowledge services provider, the total installed capacity of rooftop solar power plants stands at around 525 MW as of 31st October, 2015. Of the total, the industrial segment uses about 210 MW, followed by commercial and residences with 172 MW and 143 MW, respectively.

“Adoption rate of rooftop solar power plant is somewhat modest at the moment. It is slightly on the slower side as people take time to spare cash or budget separately for this kind of venture. Nonetheless, it is growing pretty strong. Economics are in their favour mainly,” said Kameshwar Rao, leader (energy utilities and mining), PwC India, a research and consulting firm.

This article first appeared on Live Mint.

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