Steel is the answer to goals of smart cities

Alloy is material of choice for its long life, low overall costs

December 10, 2017 09:48 pm | Updated 09:48 pm IST

A construction worker climbs down a steel structure of a building at a construction site in Valparaiso city, about 121 km (75 miles) northwest of Santiago, May 4, 2011.  REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez (CHILE - Tags: BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION)

A construction worker climbs down a steel structure of a building at a construction site in Valparaiso city, about 121 km (75 miles) northwest of Santiago, May 4, 2011. REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez (CHILE - Tags: BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION)

Project Smart Cities is a visionary project of the Government of India for sustainable, high quality of life in terms of infrastructure, mobility and connectivity, technology, environment, availability of resources and overall living conditions and experience.

The government’s Smart City initiative is an urban renewal and retrofitting programme to develop 100 such cities in the country. The move envisages a major facelift of the existing inadequate infrastructure, including roads, flyovers, airports, residential areas, city sewage systems, community areas, including parks, shopping centres, hospitals and schools. For structures that are intended to have at least a 100-year life cycle with minimal maintenance but are quick to complete, the answer lies in steel, whether it is underground, above ground or in buildings.

Underground or above

If made with steel, all sewage, drainage, water, casing for cable for Internet or transmission, will ensure zero wastage and maintenance. If roads are laid with concrete strengthened with steel, it translates to lesser damage over a period. Buildings across the globe are steel intensive.

Drinking water pipes made of stainless steel for transporting water after filtration are not only good for health but also stop leakage of potable water, a precious commodity today.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau of Waterworks has used stainless steel to dramatically reduce the city’s water loss.

Bridges, culverts and crash barriers of steel will protect valuable lives. Thus, stepping ahead with steel for smart cities will trigger development, with no debris and faster execution of projects. The assets thus created promise to be long lasting. Steel is also 100% recyclable, and thus, environment-friendly.

Steel, by virtue of its physical properties, emerges a strong component in and contributor to the fabrication of infrastructure required for smart cities. In many landmark buildings, such as the Lotus Temple in Delhi, stainless steel rebars used have a lifespan of about 300 years. Creating new smart cities or upgrading old cities is fastest and cost effective with steel structures.

Myth of high costs

There is a misconception steel works out to be expensive. The principle of life cycle cost has been included in Rule 136 (1) (iii) of the new General Financial Rules (GFR), 2017.

In many government projects relating to roads, bridges, buildings, construction of railways, shipping and rural roads, the principle of life cycle cost will play a decisive role in the sanctioning of the project design.

The use of steel has a major bearing on the life of the project. In the long run, it will reduce life cycle costs. There might be several projects that are steel-intensive may see higher initial costs. But, in the long run, their overall cost comes down — determined by factors such as material, quality, repairs needed, the time for execution of the projects, etc. All such projects will add to the inventory of national assets.

Across the globe, cities are marching towards becoming smart cities. In the attempt, they are either coming out with unique solutions using existing infrastructure or are adopting eco-friendly and sustainable models to solve problems of traffic, drainage, commuting, accommodation, and the like.

In Detroit, Michigan, in the U.S., dumped wartime steel sheds are being brought back to life. These are being converted into places of accommodation which look chic and provide low-cost living in an artful manner.

Smart cities will house cohesive societies with intensive steel use, and will include advanced architecture and city planning, buildings made with eco-friendly yet sturdy and durable materials, advanced technology for faster communication and transportation and adequate water resources, all being energy efficient as well.

(The writer is Secretary, Ministry of Steel. Views are personal)

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