Border Road Organisation (BRO) is a premier organisation for construction of roads and allied infrastructure along the border areas and has a vast footprint in the UT of Ladakh. It has extremely harsh and challenging terrains and sub-zero climate. It is also endowed with natural resources and the Government of India and the UT of Ladakh have set a target to make Ladakh Carbon Neutral, as envisioned by the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. The aim is to plan future developmental activities that minimise carbon emissions. This is an intrinsic part of Vision 2050 for development of Ladakh and carbon neutrality has to be embedded in every department’s action plan.
Carbon neutrality is a state of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions. This can be achieved by balancing emissions of carbon dioxide with its removal (often through carbon offsetting) or by eliminating emissions from society. The term is used in the context of carbon dioxide-releasing processes associated with transportation, energy production, agriculture, and industry. Reducing carbon emissions can be done by moving towards energy sources and industry processes that produce less greenhouse gases, thereby transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Shifting towards the use of renewable energy such as wind, geothermal, and solar power, zero-energy systems like passive daytime radioactive cooling, as well as nuclear power, reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
BRO is engaged in construction of strategic infrastructure in Eastern Ladakh that experiences sub-zero temperatures. BRO is an intrinsic partner in the vision of people of Ladakh to create a Carbon Neutral UT and BRO infrastructure is being created in an environment friendly manner to achieve this.
Environment Friendly Permanent Habitat
BRO is constructing a permanent habitat for its Karamyogis at Leh using the recent Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC). Along with ECBC norms, this construction uses traditional Ladakhi knowledge of orientation of buildings for energy conservation. Thus, the unique design features incorporated in the habitat have resulted in efficient orientation.
All the buildings are oriented in the E - W direction which ensures maximum South facing surface with increased passive solar gain. The internal layout of the buildings is also based on usage of sunlight hours, thus reducing energy demands. The design of external envelope of the buildings, including glazing and openings, construction material etc is as per ECBC norms. Electric radiant floor heating and solar hot water supply with anti-freeze measures have been incorporated for the first time in a habitat of this scale in Eastern Ladakh.
The design features of this building were made in collaboration with IIT Roorkee. Due to the innovative design, there has been a 60% reduction in energy demand in the building. When completed, it will result in savings of approx Rs 1.28 cr annually and the habitat will pay for itself over its life cycle of 50 years.
Net Carbon Neutral Habitat
Carbon Neutral Habitats do not increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and their design, construction, and operations do not contribute to emissions of greenhouse gases that cause adverse climate change. BRO is launching Carbon Neutral Habitats at various locations in Ladakh. The aim is to provide suitable habitats to the brave Karmyogis of BRO with better health, hygiene and sanitation. The first such habitat has been constructed at Hanle at an altitude of over 15,000 ft.
The carbon neutral complex is entirely powered by renewable solar and wind energy and will incorporate innovative passive solar heating. All the electricity requirements are met through a 30 KW wind and solar hybrid power plant integrated in the project. The combination of solar and wind energy will ensure round-the-clock charging of the power packs and hence reduce the requirement of batteries.
The unique technology of ‘Trombe Walls’ has been incorporated in pre-fabricated structures to achieve suitable thermal comforts in high altitude regions. Freezing of water pipelines being a major problem in the winter season in these areas, the habitat incorporates suitable anti-freeze measures powered by renewable energy. The complex has been constructed at a cost of Rs 4.9 cr. The habitat boosts energy saving and will result in recovery of the entire cost of construction over the next 12 years.
Environment Friendly Mobile/ Semi-Permanent Shelters
BRO detachments sometimes need to move or relocate frequently due to the nature or progress of work. It is imperative for the organisation to provide healthy and hygienic accommodation to its troops and the Casual Paid Labourers (CPLs) working on the various projects of BRO. For such locations in extreme cold climates, an Integrated 50 Men Habitat has been designed and constructed. The integrated habitat has a cookhouse, toilets and washrooms along with living accommodation. The containers have rooftop Solar Power for 24x7 off-grid electricity (30 KW) which caters to all its energy requirements. It also boasts of adequate PUF insulation and anti-freeze water supply with heat tracing that helps in reducing carbon footprint.
In order to provide short duration habitat for BRO personnel and CPLs at a work site and to provide sudden surge capacity of work at various worksites, insulated and heated 5 and 15 men tents have been designed and fabricated in India. The tents encapsulate wind resistant features of Arctic Tents and have been provided with lightweight aviation grade fire-proof insulation. The tents have a PUF insulated flexible floor and three-in-one kerosene-based heating system with hot plate for space heating, minor cooking, and hot water tank for drinking. These tents are lightweight, portable, and can be dropped by helicopters at remote sites. These tents have also been designed to save energy requirements of the BRO Detachments.
The infrastructure being created in the high-altitude areas of Ladakh aims to reduce carbon footprints. BRO has emerged as a technology leader and innovator in this and will continue to strive to seek further excellence.