ENVIRONMENT Copenhagen aims for Carbon Neutrality

The Copenhagen Climate Plan 2025 is a holistic plan with specific goals and initiatives in four areas – energy consumption, energy production, green mobility and the City Administration. The Climate Plan describes how carbon neutrality could be used to enhance quality of life by bringing innovation, job creation and investment in close cooperation with all concerned: City authorities, private sector, the utilities and the people of Copenhagen


With an area of 88 sq km and a population of 750,000 (in 2017), Copenhagen is the biggest metropolis in Scandinavia and boasts of the largest pedestrian system in the world. The element of sustainability can be well-rooted to the evolution of Copenhagen, conceived in the 1940s in the form of a five-finger concept that continued to mould its regional form.
Urban areas in this European city are aligned with linear corridors that are linked by transit and extend like fingers from the central core region.
For Copenhageners, the bicycle now forms the most popular and preferred mode of transport, which is very much evident by the fact that over 50% of the trips in the city are made by bike. No wonder the city claims to have 370 km of dedicated cycle lanes.
Besides, it has become the rationale for Copenhagen achieving the carbon neutrality target.


People there find bikes to be perhaps the cheapest yet fastest way to get around the city, lowering both carbon emissions and calories, thus serving to achieve double goals in one ride.
All of this has been aided by dedicated efforts put in for improving travel for cyclists – by creating shortcuts across waterways, over railroads and squares. Extra wide bicycle tracks have been created and 80% of bicycle routes have three lanes. All of this has collectively led to reduced travel time for cyclists by 15%, which has subsequently helped reduce accidents by about 70%.

Bicycle tracks are not something that have been laid separately, but are seamlessly integrated into the wider transport network. The easy shift in the mode of transport is a mere plus to the system as their public transport vehicles have cycle carriers attached, making it effortless to switch modes.

Also, the bicycle superhighways are safer, faster, and provide for continuous and comfortable way of travel. An interesting aspect is the ‘no missing links’ strategy, as the city is secured and connected by bike routes that are made more direct to key destinations.


There are also 43km of greenways that are green cycle routes, which have been provided away from the main roads through recreational spaces and parks to offer a pleasant riding experience through the city. The varied designs of cargo bikes give families a better alternative to the car.
Citizens have more savings as health expenses are reduced thanks to cycling. Healthier citizens reduce healthcare costs at a rate of 0.77 per km cycled, which is another quantifiable benefit apart from the improved quality of life.
Collectively, considering the total cost of air pollution, accidents and congestion, the city saves 0.06

euros for every km traversed by bike in place of car.
Electric vehicles make life in the city more liveable and sustainable and around 10% of private vehicles in Copenhagen are electric, hybrid or running on biofuels or hydrogen. Moreover, these electric cars are charged at night when the wind turbines often generate surplus power. Even large vehicles ply on alternative fuel, not diesel.

Green areas in Copenhagen include publicly owned spaces and a few private green areas which are accessible to the public and their use is guaranteed to the citizens. These green lungs vary in nature, size and location and nearly all are within a 15-minute radius.
Business areas are centred around transit stations and most are based within a one-km radar, enabling an effective walk-to-work culture and transit-oriented workplaces, boosting economy of the capital.

City of Copenhagen aims to reduce drastically carbon dioxide emissions. Approximately two-thirds of the carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced with enhanced use of wind turbines, biomass fuel and separating plastics from wastes before incineration

The city has adopted an integrated transport solution that incorporates physical and online integration between bus, train and metro services to facilitate seamless movement of passengers.
Another feature is the integration of bicycles into the public transport system.
The introduction of ‘Green Waves’ along some of the primary routes help prioritise cyclists by adapting the green light to bicycles travelling at 20km/hr so that they can ride smoothly with no breaks in between.

75% of journeys by foot, bicycle or public transport
50% of journeys to work or study by bicycle
~30% of light and heavy vehicles use new fuels
Fall in private car usage has helped curb carbon emissions and has improved the quality of life from convenient public transport. Green transport optimises urban space and moves a larger number of people in a more effective way, standing true to the famous saying “Reorienting people than cars.”

Well begun is half done goes well here, since if waste at source is minimised, half the issue is solved. By generating less waste, increasing direct reuse, recycling more and incinerating less, Copenhagen treats waste more as a resource.
It aims to have about 50% of household waste recycled by 2018 and emerge as a Zero Waste City by 2050.
This has helped save scares resources of Copenhagen whilst assisting in trading recyclable materials at market conditions.

This involves centralised production and distribution of chilled water that is partly cooled with the help of cold seawater. It is then distributed via underground insulated pipelines to end users in commercial and industrial buildings for air conditioning indoors.
It aids in driving down the urban heat island effect whilst helping to achieve zero noise, unlike conventional cooling methods. Not only does it diminish the CO2 emissions, it also results in moderating expenditure on energy imports.

Technologies such as Combined Heat & Power (CHP) to capture and reuse heat energy that is otherwise lost in electricity generation are to be implemented for decarbonising district heating. The network distributes heat energy efficiently around the city and integration of traditional and renewable fuels like biomass can further reduce the carbon intensity of the network.
This has helped create new jobs, lower district heating costs around 45% with negligible impact on air quality.

The harbour, which 15 years ago was fed with wastewater from 100 overflow channels making it heavily polluted, was transformed into a blue public space. Water quality improved with modernisation of the sewage system; the city then opened public baths and the harbour has today become one of the trendiest spots in the city.public_transport_christian_ All this could be accomplished by adopting a cleaning programme, diverting local rainwater as well as commissioning a strong urban design to create a recreational space.
The combination of innovations that have led into the making of a clean harbour have escalated the value of real estate, bettered the quality of life and tourism whilst having improved the water quality in the harbour.
Copenhageners are now employing new technologies to manage water better and to monitor and prevent leaks. Groundwater modelling and protection is used, behaviour changes are measured by water meters and pricing mechanisms are in accordance to reduce wasteful consumption of water.
The public has access to high quality water directly from the tap which has consequently led to stopping the chemical treatment of drinking water. Moreover, water losses have been reduced to a 7% low as also the demand for bottled water has diminished.

Amongst the highest in the world, about 22% of Denmark’s total electricity consumption is produced by the wind turbines. Their practice of local ownership, which owns high class technology, has helped overcome the ‘not in my backyard’ attitude and exercise accountability, in sync with their public awareness campaign.
This has led to creation of employment and has helped boost the green economy. By the vision year 2025, the city owned utility company plans to build over 100 new wind turbines based on the CCC Plan.

With increase in population, Copenhagen doesn’t offer opportunities for new parks and recreational areas. But this gave rise to two novel phenomena inspired by New York and Zurich: green roofs and pocket parks.
A small urban green spot located abutting the surrounding streets, is what a pocket park basically is. Besides 14 of them, green bicycle routes ensure the Copenhageners ride their way to the urban recreational spaces in not more than 15 minutes.
With a clear vision, defined goals, well-laid out plans, synchronised policies, determined officials and supportive public, the accomplishment of ‘Carbon Neutrality by 2025’ looks not far to this Denmark capital. The plan is a well-structured and efficiently planned document, and shall beget a stance for Copenhagen that other cities across continents will in turn strive to follow suit.

Sejal Mathur studies at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. She can be contacted at her mail id:

GIFT CITY Smart infrastructure symbolises the new hub

The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, which is rapidly coming up in the state, is set to transform urban India dramatically. The author, a second year student, pursuing Masters in Department of Urban Planning at the School of Planning & Architecture, New Delhi, writes about the ‘smart’ planning that has gone into its development.


When it comes to smart cities, we always cite examples from the west, having none from our own country. But now, with the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), located in Gandhinagar, emerging as the first smart city in India, this massive endeavour will be the first step towards the blueprint of success.

It will also stand in good stead as an example for other cities to follow in terms of adaptability, scalability and replicability.


The brainchild of McKinsey and Fairwood Consultants amongst others, GIFT City took birth in 2007.
It’s planning and design for smart infrastructure, state-of-the-art technology and novel concepts are integrated into its remarkable design and acts as few of the best practices to learn from, outlining key elements that make it a smart city of today.
A greenfield development conceived as a financial CBD, GIFT City shall be incorporated as part of the proposed urban complex of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, laid across an enviable 886 acres between the two cities. Its Master Plan is such that it encompasses not only the context of the surrounding site but also embraces characteristics of the region it is set in, which is what gives it an edge over others.

Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Co Ltd (GIFTCL), a joint venture company of the Government of Gujarat and Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), is establishing GIFT City. The project boasts of contemporary infrastructure including social and physical, as well as transportation and industrial infrastructure, making the best possible use of resources in hand.

The project regenerates the area as high-quality, mixed use district of residential, commercial and open space facilities that optimise land and real estate values. With a package of smart infrastructure offerings with world class amenities well planned for, it is all set to rival top global financial centres including London, New York and Hong Kong.

With GIFT City added to its footprint, Gujarat will become the only state in India to have an integrated state-wide gas grid of 2,400 km as well as boast of a state-wide water supply grid designed to cater to over 75% of the population whilst having one of the world’s largest manmade freshwater reservoirs.
One can schematise the smart infrastructure stemming from the central control centre, driving smart transport, desks, streets, security and surveillance, and landscape along with smart buildings and infrastructure.
Smart water infrastructure: With the Narmada main canal as the source, an efficient water supply and sewerage system is in place with 24×7 availability, recycling and reusing of the wastewater to achieve the concept of ‘Zero Discharge City’.


A sustainable approach of making the project water neutral is aimed for through a District Cooling System (DCS) that will help achieve economies of scale, reduce energy, maintenance costs whilst at the same time improving air quality and temperature control.

DCS helps distribute thermal energy from a central source to several buildings sited at multiple locations via a distribution network supplying chilled water at the other end through utility corridors for air conditioning.

Smart transport infrastructure: The Transit Oriented Development (TOD) minimises the use of cars and encourages high share of public transport and conflict-free movement of traffic.
GIFT shall be operating on an Intelligent Transport System with BRTS, MRTS and a multi modal transport hub also planned. Part of the smart transport system include interactive road maps, automatic vehicle tracking, real time travel response, transit node management, road condition


system, parking management that will help establish security, conduct ridership analysis, enable effective real time monitoring as well as maintenance.
An integrated urban linkage system with efficient land use planning is an approach that will help GIFT reduce area under transport and promote walk to work culture with minimum distances under TOD. Along main spines of the city will run a combination of sustainable modes enhancing accessibility to the CBD through pedestrian walkability, aided by TOD focused around transit stations.
Transportation and logistics nodes, multi-level parking hubs have also been envisaged to enable provision for a modal split of 90:10 with 4 internal hubs housing capacity for about half a lakh cars apart from a travellator being designed by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.
Smart power infrastructure: This envisages high-tech automation for substation, distribution, lighting and distribution network with real time monitoring and control.
Power distribution strategy incorporates Gas Insulated Switchgears (GIS) substation for effective distribution within the city, and dual 33KV feed to every building from switching panel room.

Another feature is its centralised power backup feed.
Smart waste management infrastructure: It will suck waste at 90km/hr; this will then be treated using plasma technology which entails minimum space and works without much human intervention, giving way for an Automated Waste Collection System – the AWS, through chute system. This provides for an automated waste collection, treatment and segregation system.
Smart ICT Infrastructure: The city is anticipated to flourish as a national and international hub of IT and ITes giants as it is set to compete with its foreign counterparts and play a pivotal role for many a finance centres, global trading corporations, insurance companies and offshore banking.
All the above shall only add and aid in the speedy infrastructure service delivery thanks to the global level best practices applied at the local level.
Smart Building Infrastructure: Intelligent urbanisation is what has been embarked upon by creating efficient, safe and smart buildings so that they can offer a gateway to the global financial markets – technologically advanced with safety ensured through a command centre.

The GIS Platform for monitoring the services can also be enabled, an immediate emergency response for disaster management is also possible, whilst regular maintenance has been readied too.
Green building infrastructure: Green building parameters have also been well-thought out – structure design efficiency, material efficiency, indoor environmental quality enhancement, O&M optimisation, waste reduction that contribute to the element of sustainability at GIFT.
Infrastructure for environment friendly structures involves design in accordance with microclimatology, use of renewable energy sources, high energy fusion of nature and technology, decreased energy usage, decreased energy wastage and thereby decreased energy bills.
‘Rome was not built in a day’ fits in perfectly well, for the city certainly faces a huge challenge and has a long way to go for it to materialise from a mere computer model to a success story. Nevertheless, on its journey to become the first of its kind, it is worth the wait.
The Gujarat International Financial Tech City is expected to become a contemporary model development in India, advancing the ideas of sustainability with technology.

From Smart Cities to a Smart State

Engineer, author and general designer of a new kind of transport system called Unitsky String Transport, Anatoly Yunitskiy is the founder of SkyWay String technology, which deploys electric vehicles on steel wheels riding on specific string rails.

String transport is a concept of an elevated light rail transportation system which uses pre-stressed rails with pre-stressed cables (strings) and concrete inside them. It is designed for both freight and passenger services and has two main types of track structure and rolling stock — standard and suspended.
SkyWay String transport was widely discussed among transport specialists after the Smart Cities Expo in Delhi recently, where Yunitskiy made a presentation. SkyWay Technology Corporation, based out of Belarus, also signed an agreement with the Himachal Pradesh government for a skyway transport facility at Dharamshala.
The engineer-cum-entrepreneur writes exclusively for Urban Vaastu on ‘Smart Country’ India. Excerpts:


The road network in India covers more than 4.5 million km. Over 200,000 people die on these roads and over a million are injured as a result of traffic accidents. ‘Rolled up’ in asphalt and ‘buried” under railway sleepers is fertile soil, equal in its area to the territories of three countries.
India is already moving in leaps and bounds towards fundamental, profound changes in the social pattern of its citizens. Such large-scale programmes like ‘Smart Cities’ is a measure of foresight on the part of the Indian leadership, and its desire to build a great future for the country.
I would like to briefly outline the concept of future development – From Smart Cities to a Smart State – the basis for which is a network of smart linear cities (SLC) built along transport communications of an elevated type.
SLC is an entirely pedestrian city-cluster, stretching in length for hundreds of kilometers. A cluster about a km in diameter – a residential, industrial, educational, trade, sports or mixed one with up to 6,000 inhabitants – will be built in the logic of accessibility for pedestrians, i.e., within 500m from the centre.
There will be a dominator – a high-rise building with public establishments, through which transport, power supply and information communication lines pass – SkyWay, will be located at a height of 10m and more above the ground surface, i.e. on the “second level”.

Interchange stations to transfer from urban tracks (their speed – up to 150 km/h) to high-speed intercity air tracks (their speed – up to 500 km/h) and, potentially in the future, underground hyperspeed tracks located in fore vacuum tubes (their speed – up to 1,500 km/h) can also be placed.
Every cluster is to be self-contained – with its own energy, water and food. It does not deprive nature of a single square meter of land – soil from under every building is transferred to a flat roof of the building, enriched with fertile humus, with a garden planted on it.
The houses are mostly single-storeyed, comfortable for living and budget-friendly for a family with an average income, or a middle-class family. A garden and a vegetable patch on the house roof will be enough to feed the whole family with healthy, food.


The resource intensity during construction, operation and repairs – metal, concrete, asphalt, earthwork operations and land acquisition – will be ten times less compared to the implementation of any other transport and infrastructure solutions.

Every cluster will be ecologically clean, and will fit harmoniously into the environment in all Indian natural diversity – in the mountains and forests, on fields, islands and sea shelves. A network of smart linear cities covering India including the Himalayas and the shelf of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, 200,000 km long, will occupy a 16th of the country’s territory, where over a billion people will be able to live and work in comfortable conditions by the middle of the century. The rest of the country’s territory will turn into nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, with ancient landscapes restored.

There will be no traffic jams, smog or traffic-related deaths in such a pedestrian linear city. It will become possible for children to run barefoot not on asphalt, but on grass, and parents will not have to worry about their life.
The population will be healthy with plenty of food and will enjoy more time to devote to creative activities and self-development due to a significantly shortened working day.
As is the case with lifts in multi-storeyed buildings that are included in the cost of a sq m of accommodation, horizontal, and not vertical.

SkyWay and lifts will be built in smart linear cities and will be included in the cost of residential and infrastructure buildings and structures.

SkyWay’s Horizontal lifts will be cheaper: 2–3 times compared to highways, 10–15 times compared to any road of an elevated type, motor roads or railways, including high-speed, monorail and maglev. In terms of energy (fuel) efficiency, they have no analogues and are superior to railway transport (including tram and metro) by 2–3 times, superior to automobile transport – by 3–5 times, aviation and maglev – by 5–7 times.
SkyWay tracks of “the second level” are built to last and practically do not require any maintenance. They offer higher resistance to natural phenomena, such as earthquakes, floods, tsunami, torrential rains, hurricane wind, as well as to vandalism and acts of terrorism, than any other conventional or ambitious transport system.

In its essence, the future vision of a Smart State proposed by the SkyWay is not a transport project, but an infrastructure and development one. Therefore, it can be entirely implemented by creating domestic demand in all areas of the

economy – from agriculture and construction to machine building and electronics. This programme can be implemented in stages by the year 2050.

SkyWay plans to start the first stage of Smart State programme this year in India. It will start in Jharkhand, where the construction of a test cluster of a smart linear city and test sections of SkyWay transport systems is planned.

In addition, the company is working on the concept of the transport system for the Smart city in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. The concept of the future development is named “From Smart Cities to a Smart State”, the basis for which is a network of smart linear cities built along transport communications of an elevated type.
Currently, SkyWay is working on two transport communications projects in India: in Jharkhand, where a trilateral investment agreement was signed ($922 million creating about 1,000 jobs) and in Dharamsala where a memorandum of understanding was signed.
The delegation from the Dharamsala municipality has already visited the SkyWay test site in Belarus.


Waste management plays a crucial role in an era when countries are not only looked for the number of jobs they offer, but attitude towards the environment

Words: Steffi Mac

Development’ is probably one of the most subjective terms we have today. Each individual’s definition of the term is so different and yet so correct in its form that one cannot really restrict the word to only a certain set of activities or ideas.

But everyone will agree that when it comes to the ‘physical development’ or the ‘face lift’ of any country in any part of the world, waste management becomes the biggest question to answer. Whether it is a result of something that has been constructed or a result of human habitat, the negligence of humans is always questioned and put on the line with the ever growing waste/unusable products every day.

In an era where countries aren’t only looked upon by the number of jobs they offer or the population they have, but on their attitude towards the environment and their motivation to contribute to preserve it, waste management plays a crucial role.

India has shown promise in the field of innovation when it comes to waste management. Surely, there is room for a lot of improvement, but there is immense hope as well.

The use of plastic is convenient but has also turned into a nuisance the world over. Prof Rajagopalan Vasudevan, who teaches chemistry at a Tamil Nadu university, devised a way to transform common plastic litter into a substitute for bitumen – the main ingredient in asphalt used for road construction.



Take for instance the roadways. Singapore has 3,324 km of modern, well-maintained roads of which 150 km are expressways. But to avoid congestion, the city has priced vehicle entry into its central business district since 1975. These are used to develop more transport infrastructure.

And if you decide to commute by trains, do not think twice. Singapore has one of the most organised railway networks in the world. During the occupation in World War II, the rails to Port Weld (now known as Kuala Sepetang and located in Malaysia) along with 150 miles of the East Coast Line were used by the Japanese to build the Burma-Siam Railway, also known as the Death Railway.

The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore consists of the North-South, East-West and North East lines, with a total track length of 138 km and served by 64 stations. The trains are connected to high-speed broadband internet.


India’s rapid economic development has witnessed a surge in plastic waste. Converting the common plastic litter into bitumen actually saves 15% of the investment made by the government for road constructions.

Naturally this is bringing down plastic waste in the country by leaps and bounds. It has already been tested in about 11 states in India since 2004 and the results have been remarkable.

An IIT Kanpur team came out with a mechanism where the vortex movement of water cleans the pan surface when the toilet is flushed and pushes the solid waste downwards into a tank located at the centre.

While the centrifugal force acting outwards from a centre of rotation presses the water to the surface of the pan, the geometric design of the surface guides it through a circular path downward toward the separator.

The solid waste thus collected can be used for making compost, while the filtered water is sent to an overhead tank for storage purpose. In community toilets, the water can be sent to an overhead tank using a hand pump instead of electricity.

However, it would be required to pump twice or thrice a day. These toilets are not only eco-friendly but also economic. The micro filters cost just `100 and last for at least a year, while building a basic toilet would cost just around `8,000. This mechanism is being used by UNICEF on a trial basis in community toilets.

Sweden leads the bandwagon when it comes to waste management. It has already made its place in history for its well-known progressive environmental strides.

The country’s waste-to-energy system efficiently provides direct heating to 950,000 Swedish households and electricity to 260,000 homes. The trash management and its recycling are incredibly exemplary in Sweden with less than 1% of the total trash ending up in the landfills.
Unlike other countries, Sweden sees garbage as a commodity and imports it from other European countries to fuel its power needs, with 700kg of rubbish translating into up to 250kg of energy and fuel.

Waste products and litters are always seen as the side effects to ‘development’, but if the attitude of these countries is anything to go by, development may soon have no environmental side-effects at all.


A country takes pride in its infrastructure. And when it is a tiny island city-state called Singapore it can take a lot of it. Join us, as we take you through Singapore’s award-winning infrastructure.

Words: Amogh Purohit

Singapore, the island city-state in Southeast Asia, is well-positioned to be the infrastructure hub with a strong cluster of companies involved in various development activities. This brings flocks of investors and tourists to Singapore.

And when it comes to making a good first impression, Singapore does it a bit too well. You are greeted with sunflower gardens inside the airport. No wonder, the Changi airport is consistently voted the world’s best in both industry and consumer polls.

The success of the airport has added a feather to Singapore’s very colourful hat and made it a regional aviation and air cargo hub. It caters to 80 airlines serving more than 180 cities in over 50 countries. The three terminals at Changi airport together handle 70 million passengers a year. Since it commenced operations in 1981 it has won more than 250 awards.

Most of Singapore’s world-renowned infrastructure has been inherited from the colonial era. This includes a well-developed transport network. After independence in 1965, the Singapore government made massive investments and put in efforts to constantly improve the infrastructure.

This island city packs a punch when it comes to infrastructure. It is served by a network of 3,324 km of roads. In the past, Singapore saw a huge spike in ownership of private cars. Quick steps were taken and a reliable public transport system was put in place.

According to a global survey of 221 cities, Singapore has the world’s best infrastructure including glass buildings, swanky malls, a top-notch airport, public transportation and water distribution system.



Take for instance the roadways. Singapore has 3,324 km of modern, well-maintained roads of which 150 km are expressways. But to avoid congestion, the city has priced vehicle entry into its central business district since 1975. These are used to develop more transport infrastructure.

And if you decide to commute by trains, do not think twice. Singapore has one of the most organised railway networks in the world. During the occupation in World War II, the rails to Port Weld (now known as Kuala Sepetang and located in Malaysia) along with 150 miles of the East Coast Line were used by the Japanese to build the Burma-Siam Railway, also known as the Death Railway.

The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore consists of the North-South, East-West and North East lines, with a total track length of 138 km and served by 64 stations. The trains are connected to high-speed broadband internet.


In fact, Singapore is the most wired country in the world, with a household broadband penetration rate of 115.2%. This ties Singapore with the US as the least expensive place in the world to make a phone call or surf the internet using a broadband connection.

The ports and maritime infrastructure are often referred to as the Gateway to Asia. Over 5,000 companies, employing over 100,000 people, keep the ports busy. This industry contributes over 7 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Global leaders in shipping finance, ship broking, risk management and marine insurance have flourished here. Being at the epicenter of a network of trade routes and well-connected to more than 600 ports in over 120 countries, Singapore is a key hub port.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore monitors and regulates the development of ports in Singapore working in tandem with operators and shipping companies.


The Port of Singapore is the busiest container transhipment hub in the world. The port handles around one-fifth of global container transhipment throughput. A total of 130,575 vessels arrived at the port in 2009. It is one of the top bunkering ports in the world – 42.4 million metric tonnes of bunkers (fuel replenishment for ships) reported to have been sold in 2014..

The island is the world’s third-largest petrochemical refiner and operates the most technically advanced and efficient shipbuilding and ship repair facilities in Southeast Asia.

And if you think there isn’t room for anything more on this tiny island, you are wrong. This city-state has the world’s highest, largest rooftop pool at the Marina Bay Sands, the world’s freakiest theme park and a whole museum dedicated to ‘public housing’.

It is also home to two of the world’s three most expensive buildings including the Marina Bay Sands. It also has a concert hall shaped like a durian fruit and a museum that looks like a split banana.
In Singapore, 19th century British architecture is still intact with all its grand white monoliths, columns, balustrades and verandas, making it a delight to walk through the city and take pictures. There’s a lot to do in Singapore wherever you are, whichever time of the day.



A country’s infrastructure functions like the nervous system of a body; it depends on it like lifeblood. We take you through the state of Germany’s infrastructure.

Words: Amogh Purohit


Germany, a country that has made its mark with its engineering, is known to excel at a variety of other things as well. Take for instance the flawless autobahns, the 1,300 breweries and 5,000 different brands of brews, 25,000 magnificent castles, really fast cars, and a meta sense of humour.

Known to be the birthplace of some of the fastest cars in the world, Germany has an excellent road and transportation infrastructure, making enough room to gallop. In 2000, the total length of paved highways was 650,891 km, including 11,400 km of expressways. That coupled with heavy horsepower, you never have to worry about getting from A to B again. One would think that having fast cars, over 45 million of them, would cause frequent traffic jams. But then again, the lack of speed limits on highways takes care of that.

According to the 2011-2012 Global Competitiveness Report, Germany’s extensive infrastructure was ranked second in the world and was given special praise for its capacity for highly efficient transportation of goods and passengers.

This ranking spoke about the quality of roads and airports, the rail and port infrastructure, and its outstanding communications and energy infrastructure.

Moving away from land, Germany’s logistics’ infrastructure includes not only the port of Hamburg, Europe’s second largest container port, but also Bremerhaven, Europe’s largest car port that handles vehicular traffic, and Duisburg, home of Europe’s largest inland port. Together with over 250 additional inland ports, Germany’s port infrastructure facilitates the efficient delivery of goods in Europe’s largest market.

And if you are thinking of flying there, Germany has a dense network of airports, of which 23 offer international service. Frankfurt is ranked the world’s seventh and ninth largest airport in terms of cargo and passenger volume, respectively. The country’s highway system has one of the greatest kilometre density levels in Europe and the 37,900 km of railway tracks are nearly enough to circle the globe.

A CRH Harmony bullet inspection train leaves a train station for a railway inspection assignment, in Guiyang

And it does that at whopping speeds of up to 300 km/h. This high-speed rail network is the fourth largest in the world.

Germany also has one of the largest telecommunications network, served by a modern telephone system and 46.5 million main lines connected by fibre-optic cable, coaxial cable, microwave radio relay, and a domestic satellite system. The state-owned giant, Deutsche Telekom (DT) is one of the leaders of the European and global telecommunications sector.

Growth in the areas of multimedia, mobile communications, and the Internet has also been spectacular. Germany is one of the fastest growing markets for mobile phone equipment, and Germans owned 15.318 million mobile phones 1999, way before selfies became popular. And the government is considering further investment into the area because it still compares poorly with the US by the ratio of personal computers and Internet hosts per 1,000 people.

But despite its shiny façade, the German economy is crumbling at its core. With the country’s infrastructure becoming obsolete and companies preferring to invest abroad, the government advisor argues that German prosperity is faltering.

The once-soaring bridges are sagging. Some railroad switching equipment, once top-of-the-line, have not been updated since a long time. Well-engineered canal locks are succumbing to silt and neglect.

Even the road and railroad networks, one of the densest and most developed in the world are facing wear and tear and regular breakdowns. Even maintaining the status quo will require nearly doubling current spending levels, according to a recent report issued by a government commission.

The problems started at the time of German reunification in 1990, experts say. The government poured vast amounts of money into former East Germany, where some roads and railways had barely been maintained. Now much of the eastern countryside has sparkling new highways, but not many people to drive on them.

43486761 - robotic arms in a car plant

Growth in the areas of multimedia, mobile communications, and the Internet has also been spectacular. Germany is one of the fastest growing markets for mobile phone equipment, and Germans owned 15.318 million mobile phones 1999, way before selfies became popular.

Germany’s population and industry have moved westward. Infrastructure in the richer, western half of Germany, meanwhile, has been neglected. Now, nearly half of Germany’s municipal bridges and one-fifth of its highways are considered to be in poor condition, according to federal data and a study by the German Institute for Urban Affairs.

A McKinsey & Co. study in 2013 estimated that Germany needs to invest $69 billion in its roads to meet expected demand in the coming years. Major steps are being taken by the government to put this into implementation and plan out a way to revive and reengineer the country’s infrastructure.

Clearly, Germany is a country that takes its infrastructural development and humour very seriously.


Amogh is a good friend and bad singer, an aspiring adult and a writer. He shuttles between classy and desi very frequently. He can be reached at