Sustainable Urban Development in India

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SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA: SOME ISSUES
by

Basudha Chattopadhyay INTRODUCTION

Sustainable development means attaining a balance between environmental protection and human economic development and between the present and future needs. It means equity in development and sectoral actions across space and time. 1 It requires an integration of

economic, social and environmental approaches towards development. Sustainable urban development refers to attaining social equity and environmental protection in urbanization while minimizing the costs of urbanization. This paper aims at discussing some of the important issues relating to sustainable urban form that would lead to sustainable urban development with possible references to India. The paper is based on available literature and secondary data. The paper is divided in two parts. The first part deals with the concept of sustainable development and its implications for urban areas. First section of this part of the paper explains the concept of sustainable development with special mention of sustainable urban development. This is followed by the second section of this part with a discussion of the role of environment and climate change in sustainable urban development. The second part of the paper discusses sustainable urban development with special reference to India. This part is divided in four sections. The first section deals with urban basic services and sustainable urban development in India. The second section notes the inefficiencies in the land policy of India and its implications for sustainable urban development in India. The third section leads to possible options of sustainable city form, which may be relevant for India. Here first the study discusses the compact city debate and next it explains the concept and possibilities of multi-modal urban region as a city form. The last and fourth section summarises the discussion and ends with way forward.

1

See Cruz et al (2007).

1

PART A CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT
UN General Assembly convened a conference on the “human environment” at Stockholm in June 1972, which came out with guiding principles on “human environment”. It emphasized that man has the fundamental right to environment of quality and also that he has a responsibility towards protecting the environment for present and future generations. It also maintained that natural resources of the earth must be safeguarded for the benefit of present and future generations. About a decade later, to address the issues concerning continuing depletion of natural resources and unsustainable development, the World Commission on Environment and Development was created in1983. 2

Popularly known as Brundtland

Commission (1983) , it described sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. After twenty years of Stockholm Declaration, the UN Conference on ‘Environment and Development’ (also known as ‘Earth Summit’) was held at Rio-de Janeiro in 1992 that adopted an action plan, popularly known as ‘Agenda 21’. The agenda 21 promised to reduce poverty, provide clean water and health care, and protect the natural resources and so on. Also to be noted that some of the Millennium Development Goals 3 (see UNDP) have urged for ensuring environmental sustainability and reduction of the percentage of the population under extreme poverty. Similarly, explaining implications of climate change for sustainable development the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes (IPCC) 4 the importance of social and environmental equity in development. Thus all the major world conferences and initiatives taken so far on environment and development have stressed on economically viable development, socially equitable development and protection of the environment for attaining sustainable development. Sustainable urban development specifically...
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