Future Ready: GIFT City sets an example with its digital initiatives in water and waste management

GIFT City sets an example with its digital initiatives in water and waste management

The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) has been included in the central government’s Smart Cities Mission statement and guidelines as a model city for greenfield development. It has deployed several advanced technologies across different sectors with a view to becoming future ready. The upcoming smart cities can learn from the experience of GIFT City, and deploy similar technologies to achieve efficiency in their operations.

About GIFT City

A first-of-its-kind model in the country, GIFT City has been conceptualised as a global financial and IT services hub, located between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. The objective behind its development is to reform the district, comprising high quality residential, commercial and open space facilities, by leveraging its land and real estate potential.

The city is planned on 886 acres of land with 62 million square feet of built-up area. Of the total built-up area, 67 per cent (42 million square feet) is for commercial use, 22 per cent (14 million square feet) for residential use and the remaining 11 per cent (6 million square feet) is for social use. It includes office spaces, schools, residential apartments, hospitals, clubs, hotels, and retail and various recreational facilities. Besides, the city consists of an exclusive domestic area, a multi-service special economic zone and an international financial services centre. When fully developed, the total population density of the city is expected to be 15,000 people per square km, which will translate into direct and indirect employment opportunities for 100,000 people.

The greenfield project is being implemented on a public-private partnership basis. Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Limited (GIFTCL) has been incorporated as a joint venture between Gujarat Urban Development Company Limited and Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services for developing the city. Currently, construction work on the project is going on in full swing.

Model infrastructural developments

In order to achieve its aim of tapping the country’s huge financial services potential, the city will require extensive infrastructure planning, designing and engineering using the latest technologies. GIFT City envisions being a “digging-free city” with all the utilities in a single tunnel laid across the city. For this, a 25 km long, 7.5 metre deep and 7.5 metre wide “utility tunnel” has been planned. A first-of-its-kind initiative in India, the tunnel will not only eliminate the need to excavate roads for repair and maintenance, but will also accommodate all the utilities including power cables, raw water supply pipelines, a water treatment plant (WTP), a treated water supply pipeline from the WTP to various developments, chilled water supply from the district cooling pipe (DCP) to various developments and a return pipeline to the DCP, information and communication technology cables, automated waste collection pipelines, and fire hydrant water pipelines.

As far as waste management is concerned, the city has deployed automated waste collection (AWC) systems through the chute system for the segregation and treatment of waste. Accordingly, waste is thrown into a disposal chute and water is sucked through pipes at a speed of 90 km per hour. Further, pilot scale plasma pyrolysis system has been deployed for solid waste treatment. In addition to avoiding human intervention in the best possible way, the AWC systems have been developed to minimise space requirements, and reduce health and environmental issues. The deployment of AWC systems is in line with GIFT City’s vision of becoming a zero-discharge city.

Further, the city acknowledges the importance of 24×7 uninterrupted and reliable water supply to all consumers. In this regard, as part of smart water supply initiatives, GIFT City aims to minimise interruptions/breakdowns, maximise reliability, and improve planning and scheduling of maintenance activities with state-of-the-art distribution automation. The city has also planned to introduce various other initiatives including the “drink from any tap” concept and water treatment and recycling. Due consideration has also been given to providing water metering facilities.

The city has deployed an IoT-controlled system for water management. It conveys potable water by pumping from the WTP to the underground tanks of various individual buildings through the utility tunnel. Further, the entire water network in GIFT City is installed with motorised control valves, level transmitters and flow meters. For providing potable water supply, the water collection system inside a developer’s building is equipped with a level transmitter, level switches and motorised valves. The open/ close feedback of these three signals is connected to GIFT City’s IoT system for monitoring purposes. The motorised valves in buildings will remain in open position till the water collection sump level is above 90 per cent, and will automatically close after that.

To ensure that potable water is delivered to all the customers in urban and rural communities, a system capable of providing early warnings about contamination, and identifying the location and source of contamination is required to enable quick response of the maintenance team. To achieve the aforementioned goals, the city, on a pilot basis, has deployed IoT based system for water quality monitoring as well, and is in the process of expansion of the same.

The sewerage management system in the city is also connected to an IoT-controlled system. The sewage is being collected by a gravity system at most locations so that pumping is minimised wherever possible. The collected sewage is passed through primary, secondary and tertiary treatment plants, and the treated sewage is used for various purposes.

As part of the city’s smart infrastructure, a district cooling system has been planned with the aim of providing uninterrupted, energy efficient and sustainable air-conditioning to the occupants. The system conserves up to 30 per cent energy as compared to traditional air-conditioning systems; improves air quality; and reduces maintenance costs, noise, global warming, CO2 emissions and the heat island effect. Phase I of the district cooling system has been operational since March 2015. The key features of the cooling system are state-of-the-art technology, series counter flow chillers with a thermal storage tank, a chilled water distribution piping network with an underground utility tunnel, and energy metering and control through the supervisory control and data acquisition system.

GIFT City has also been working to increase the share of renewable energy in the overall energy basket. In order to make WTPs and sewage treatment plants (STPs) efficient in terms of power requirement, variable frequency drives (VFDs) are being used for pumps/ blowers to control the motor speed by varying the frequency of power being sent to the motor. A VFD not only minimises the power costs, but also extends the life of the pump.

Quality infrastructure

Infrastructure development is at the heart of the GIFT City project. A series of measures are being undertaken to provide quality infrastructure, deploy state-of-the-art technologies and adopt global best practices in service delivery. In terms of scale and sheer physical scope, the city is being designed to be at or above par with the current globally benchmarked international financial service centres. These initiatives are expected to provide an international standard of working and living to the residents. w

Based on a presentation by Janki Jethi, Senior Vice-President, GIFT City, at a recent India Infrastructure conference