Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation - Making a Sustainable Future Possible

UPMRC is working on the motto of a ‘Cleaner and Greener Uttar Pradesh’
UPMRC is working on the motto of a ‘Cleaner and Greener Uttar Pradesh’ with the foremost goal of building a green and sustainable urban transport system to reduce its carbon footprint and help the country achieve its zero-emission target. We believe that there is no better future until we make it possible, says Shri Sushil Kumar, Managing Director, Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (UPMRCL).

How is UPMRC encouraging collaboration along the value-chain for decarbonising the construction industry?

Value-chain collaboration is crucial for decarbonizing the construction industry and achieving net-zero construction goals. To reduce carbon emissions in the construction process, proper coordination and cooperation among all stakeholders involved in the value chain are essential.

Team UPMRC has taken an important step by opening channels of communication among all stakeholders, including architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers, and clients, for information sharing. In our Lucknow, Kanpur and Agra metro projects, with the help of our contractors and subcontractors, we have taken various measures during the construction phase to minimize the environmental impact, some of which are as follows:
  • To limit the spread of dust particles outside the sites and facilities, wheel wash centres have been installed at all site exits.
  • To reduce the amount of particulate matter suspended in the air, regular sprinkling of water is undertaken.
  • Water is sprayed during the construction phase at earth handling sites and other excavation areas for suppression of dust.
  • Dust emission from piles of excavated material is also controlled by spraying water on the piles or they are kept covered by tarpaulin sheets.
  • Regular maintenance of all barricades on site.
  • Transportation of material to and from the sites is undertaken only when covered by a polythene sheet.
  • Activities such as the batching plant and casting yard are located at offshore sites.
  • Wherever possible, use of ‘precast’ concrete structures is maximized.
Establishing clear sustainability goals and setting measurable targets for reducing emissions can be a positive step in reducing carbonisation in the construction industry. Corporation owners must minimize their adverse ecological impact to achieve the global net-zero emission goal. When we adopt sustainable practices, we can meet emission targets and avoid penalties. In addition, the company also gains a reputation for being environmentally friendly. This could lead to more business from eco-conscious consumers who appreciate the efforts.

How is UPMRC managing its waste and saving important resources like water during construction?

We can significantly improve sustainability levels by minimizing material waste. In UPMRC, collection, segregation, storage and disposal of different types of waste are done as per legal norms. Organic waste management is undertaken by installing Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) at stations, at the depots, and at construction worker camps.

UPMRCL is cleaning the wastewater and reusing it for horticulture in Depot and Viaduct sections. Metro Train Depot functions as a “Zero Discharge Facility” as no wastewater is discharged from its premises. Similarly, ETP (Effluent Treatment Plant) and STP (Sewage Treatment Plant) have been built in every depot to treat wastewater from cleaning of trains, day-to-day activity inside the depot, and waste generated from residential/office areas inside the metro depot.

UPMRCL takes care of every drop of water by minimizing its wastage. It was always emphasized to have efficient water fixtures in the metro rail stations of UPMRCL. Be it Lucknow and now Kanpur and Agra, it is followed with great commitment. Water fixtures used at UPMRCL metro stations are 30-40 % more efficient than conventional water fixtures and are expected to save lakhs of litres of water every year.

Besides, UPMRC has also taken steps to harvest rainwater in all its projects. In the Lucknow Metro Project, comprising 23 km long alignment; more than 300 rainwater harvesting pits have been created to capture the rainwater for harvesting. With this, we have created a capacity to harvest almost 20 lakh litres of water during the rainy season. A similar arrangement has been planned in Kanpur and Agra metros. It is expected that on completion of the projects they will create an additional 15–20 lakh litres of rainwater harvesting capacity in the city of Kanpur and Agra.

Coloured dustbins are placed at all sites to help segregate the waste. More than 75% of the Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste generated during a project is reused for other construction activities. We ardently believe that by following these energy-efficient solutions and working on three main pillars of Reuse, Recycle, and Reduce, every organization can help our country in achieving the net-zero emissions target.

UPMRC is working on the motto of a ‘Cleaner and Greener Uttar Pradesh’

How can the construction industry and its stakeholders collaborate to develop carbon emission calculators that accurately measure emissions and provide incentives?

More and more representatives from the construction industry, government bodies, research institutions, and environmental organizations can form collaborative partnerships to secure data. This diverse group can collectively contribute expertise, resources, and perspectives to develop robust emission calculators. Data sharing and standardization can encourage transparency.

In UPMRC, to realize the objective of optimal use and restoration of natural resources, an initial Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was carried out before the proposal of the final alignment. The purpose of this assessment was to fathom the impact of the construction and operation of the project on different components of the environment viz. physical, biological/ecological and environmental. The baseline data for various parameters of physical (physiographic and soils), ecological (forestry, fisheries and wildlife) and environmental pollution (air, water, noise and solid waste) were documented.

Similarly, we can establish industry-wide standards for collecting, reporting, and verifying emissions data. This will ensure consistency and comparability of emission calculations across projects and facilitate accurate measurement. One area we can evaluate and minimize emissions is material use. Three building materials make up 23% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Concrete produces around 11% of all carbon emissions, while steel and aluminium make up the remaining 12% of pollution. Undertaking pilot projects to test and validate the accuracy of emission calculators can also be carried out.

UPMRC is working on the motto of a ‘Cleaner and Greener Uttar Pradesh’

Should there be a centralized body for overseeing and promoting innovations in the industry, and even help raise awareness on the importance of decarbonization and sustainability?

Having a centralized body responsible for overseeing and promoting innovations in the construction industry can be highly beneficial. Such a body can play a pivotal role in driving the decarbonization and sustainability agenda. A centralized body can bring together various stakeholders, including industry experts, researchers, policymakers, and environmental organizations. By coordinating their efforts, this body can facilitate collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the alignment of objectives.

The body can establish industry-wide standards and guidelines that prioritize decarbonization and sustainability. These standards can cover areas such as energy efficiency, materials sourcing, waste reduction, and carbon emissions. By providing clear guidance, the body will help create a level playing field and ensure that all participants are working towards common sustainability goals.

What challenges do you see for construction companies when transitioning to low-carbon construction methods?

Many construction companies may have limited awareness of low-carbon construction methods, technologies, and materials. They may lack the necessary knowledge and expertise to effectively implement these strategies.

Cost considerations are also a limitation. Low-carbon construction methods often involve higher upfront costs compared to conventional approaches. Construction companies may face challenges in justifying these initial investments to clients or securing funding for sustainable projects.

The availability and affordability of low-carbon materials and technologies can be a challenge. Construction companies may struggle to source sustainable materials and find suppliers who can meet their project requirements.

UPMRC always keeps sustainability in mind when we construct our infrastructure. Many researchers study the effects of technological advancements on the construction industry’s carbon footprint. They believe that the industry can achieve carbon neutrality by reducing material emissions, applying new technologies and accessing renewable energy sources. Our company has adopted all of these solutions in our projects due to which, UPMRC has been lauded by the Indian Green Building Council (CII-IGBC).

We are promoting a cleaner and greener environment while executing a huge infrastructure project of public transport in our cities. All 21 stations of the Lucknow Metro Rail Project and 9 stations of the Priority corridor (IIT-Motijheel) of the Kanpur Metro Project have achieved the highest green building rating – the “Platinum certification” even before the commencement of commercial operations. The Green Building Certification is given to building having provisions for minimizing energy consumption, water consumption, proper waste management arrangements, wastewater treatment facilities, and for many other environmentally friendly features. Now, the Agra Metro Rail Project is also incorporating these features to achieve a Green Building Certificate of the highest standard.

Besides, UPMRCL achieved its ISO certification of ISO 14001 (Environment Management Systems) for its construction activities for the entire 23 km of the Lucknow Metro Project as well as for the Kanpur Metro Rail. ISO certifications are awarded to organizations displaying commitment to the standard requirements. Having ISO 14001 certification showcases our commitment to safeguarding the environment by adopting environment-friendly practices in an organized manner. Similar arrangements to achieve ISO certification for the balance section of Kanpur Metro and for the Agra Metro Rail Project are already in progress and will be achieved in due course.

How effective can Metro Rails be in protecting the environment from pollutants in the long-term?

Environmental protection is a key aspect in the development of metro projects. In fact, Metro Projects are environment friendly as compared to other modes of public transport as the metro system operates with zero carbon emissions.

The health of the climate is getting worse day by day all due to air pollutants, especially black carbon. GHGs are the major pollutants in the environment and the construction industry plays an important part in its emission. Today, if we look at our cities, with the rapid increase in the population over many decades, it is expected that to meet the transport demand of the city, the number of buses and personalized vehicles would increase significantly by the year 2026. Together, they will compound the existing problems of GHG emissions. However, the proposed development of the metro will reduce such emissions and hence help reduce the carbon footprint.

On implementation of the project, it is estimated that both petrol and diesel consumption will get reduced. The saving will be due to two factors: namely, reduction in vehicles and decongestion on roads. Because of the reduction in the number of vehicles, there would also be a reduction in the amount of fossil fuel burnt, which would ultimately result in decrease of carbon footprint.

UPMRC is working on the motto of a ‘Cleaner and Greener Uttar Pradesh’

What steps is Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC) taking to mitigate the adverse environmental impact during construction of its metro projects?

Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC) has adopted a multi-pronged mitigation green strategy and has ensured various provisions for environment and energy conservation in its metro projects. This factor has been further reinforced through various innovations under Kanpur and Agra Metro projects. The use of regenerative braking technology in metro trains and lifts to generate and conserve energy through braking, use of an HVAC system to control the air conditioning in metro trains, and 100% LED lighting in the entire metro system, etc. are examples of UPMRC’s commitment towards the goal of net-zero emission. Following are the various measures taken by UPMRC in this regard:

Embracing Solar Energy

UPMRC has installed a total capacity of 1.28 MW rooftop solar plant at its premises. A 1.1MW capacity solar plant is installed at Transport Nagar Metro Depot. More than 30 lakh units of electricity have been generated through these solar plants till date in Lucknow alone. UPMRCL is also planning to install a rooftop solar plant in the ongoing Kanpur and Agra Metro projects. The work of installation of a 1 MW solar plant has started in the Kanpur Metro depot of Corridor-1 (IIT-Naubasta) under the Kanpur Metro project and it is likely to be completed by August this year. About 12 lakh units of electricity can be produced from this 1 MW plant in a year. There are various benefits of solar energy ranging from being cost-effective in comparison to electricity procured from the grid. It costs almost 30% less than the electricity procured from the grid. Also, harnessing solar energy results in a lower carbon footprint for the organization.

Regenerative Energy in Trains and Lifts

The rolling stock of the Kanpur and Agra Metro Project has an efficiency of 45% through regenerative braking technology. Similarly, the rolling stocks used in Lucknow Metro Project have an efficiency of around 40% due to Regenerative Braking Technology. It means that out of 1000 units being used in the running of trains, almost 400 units are generated through Regenerative Braking Technology.

Besides rolling stocks, Regenerative Braking is also used in lifts of all UPMRCL Projects. The lifts installed in various Uttar Pradesh Metro premises recorded almost 37% energy efficiency. Along with this, the Kanpur Metro trains have a carbon-dioxide sensor-based air-conditioning system, which operates according to the number of passengers present in the train and thereby saves energy.

Relocation and Transplantation of Trees

In the Lucknow Metro Project, more than 400 trees were transplanted with a survival rate of more than 95%. A similar model has been followed in Kanpur, where till date more than 100 big trees have been transplanted under the priority section of the Kanpur metro project. In the Agra Metro project, UPMRCL is working with the forest department to plant 10 trees in lieu of every single tree being cut during the project execution.

UPMRCL has identified the land parcel for compensatory afforestation in Agra in close coordination with the forest department to ensure that the afforestation activity happens in a timely manner. UPMRCL has a strong commitment to safeguard every possible tree coming in the Metro alignment and to keep the number of trees to be cut down to a minimum.

LED Lighting

Lucknow Metro became the first metro in India to have 100% LED lighting in trains and stations. A similar approach has been followed for both Kanpur and Agra Metro Projects. Besides, translucent sheets have been used in the construction of the roofs of metro stations with the aim of making full use of the natural light of the sun. Also, for the underground section, the energy-efficient Environment Control System (ECS) and Tunnel Ventilation System (TVS) system were used. Lightweight stainless steel rolling stock was procured, and a highly-efficient Power Transmission and Distribution System (PTDS) design was implemented to reduce pilferage and transmission loss.

Development of Green Median

A green median has been developed with a green plantation along corridors to minimize the effects of vehicular pollution. Saplings have been planted in the middle of the elevated corridor of both Lucknow and Kanpur Metro, and UPMRC is taking regular care of them. Saplings have been planted at every possible place on the metro premises.
NBM&CW October 2023
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