Urban Conservation

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10 URBAN ENVIRONMENT

Suneel Pandey, Shaleen Singhal, Pragya Jaswal, and Manraj Guliani

Great cities are planned and grow without any regard for the fact that they are parasites on the countryside, which must somehow supply food, water, air, and degrade huge quantities of wastes.

—Eugene Odum

Six to seven million people are added annually to urban India. At the beginning of this millennium, 285 million Indians lived in its nearly 4400 towns and cities (Census 2001). It is estimated to rise to 550 million by the year 2021 and 800 million by 2041 when it will surpass China. At that point urban India will be larger than the total population of Europe (NIUA 2000).

Economic growth is both a driving cause as well as the chief outcome of any urbanization process. India is among the ten most industrialized nations of the world. At 8.5 per cent (2003–4) India stands next only to China in terms of per annum GDP growth. In the last decade India’s average growth rate was 6.3 per cent (1994–2004) and it aspires to achieve 8 per cent plus growth rate in the coming decade (Table 10.1).

Much of this boom has been experienced in the larger urban areas, where majority of the industrial production is concentrated. Cities act as engines of economic growth, contributing to 60 per cent of the national income. After India embarked upon economic reforms in 1991, the percentage of poverty fell from 36 per cent in 1993 to 26 per cent in 2000. This new found prosperity has not only led to a greater collective demand for a variety of goods, but also that traditional lifestyles have been altered in pursuit of an increasingly ‘modern’ way of living.

Per capita urban energy consumption has been increasing in the recent years. Demand for packaged consumer goods has increased several folds even in rural areas. These

Table 10.1

GDP Growth Rates of India in the Last Decade

Year|GDP growth rate|
1994–5|7.3|
1995–6|7.3|
1996–7|7.8|
1997–8|4.8|
1998–9|6.5|
1999–2000|6.1|
2000–1|4.4|
2001–2|5.8|
2002–3|4.0|
2003–4|8.5|

Source: National Accounts Statistics 2005, Central
Statistical Organisation1

developments pose a serious threat to fast depleting natural resources that act both as factors of production, as well as dumping grounds for wastes generated. Urbanization in India is characterized by unplanned and uncontrolled growth leading to urban sprawl. Land use planning and the pattern of development, relationship between residential areas and industrial, commercial and office complexes have a considerable impact on the environment (Singh and Steinberg 1996). Most of all, appropriate infrastructure provision has not kept pace with economic growth. Consequently, the environment of urban areas, particularly of larger cities, has been deteriorating rapidly. ULBs in India are faced with a plethora of issues that directly impact their capacity to manage municipal service delivery

Views expressed in the chapter are of the authors.1 http://mospi.nic.in/3_macro_agg_const.pdf

while simultaneously addressing environmental concerns. These include:

multiplicity of organizations;

inadequate resource mobilization;

lack of capability to adopt proper corporate planning;

lack of information and information systems; and

inadequate monitoring of policy implementation. Where the municipalities are struggling to provide basic

amenities to citizens, issues of environmental pollution or hazard management are not accorded priority till matters reach the proportions of a crisis.

We explore impact of waste generation by us—people and industry—and emissions from urban transport on the quality of the water we consume and air we breathe and the inadequacy of ULBs when faced with the consequences of negligence of green issues, which are a part and parcel of contemporary civic existence.

STATUS OF THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT

Water and Waste...
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