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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Bengaluru - A Garden City Struggling to Manage Its Garbage

The Hoysala empire was a prominent Southern Indian Kannadiga empire that ruled most of the modern-day state of Karnataka between the 10th and the 14th centuries. One of the kings of the dynasty Ballala once got lost in a jungle. In the absence of any communication with his kingdom’s administration, he wandered across the jungle to find his way out. He began tiring off while hunger was ruling him. He came across a poor old woman who offered him some boiled beans. As an expression of gratitude towards the kind woman, the king quoted the place as ‘bende kaalu ooru’ which in Kannada means the city of boiled beans. The space was already a human settlement then and there are other versions of the stories as well related with the etymology of the city. 

The modern day construction of the city can be said to have began by a feudatory ruler under the Vijaynagar empire Cempe Gowda who once while on his hunting boults saw a hare chasing his dog and he termed the space as ‘gandu bhoomi’ which literally means a heroic place. He built a mud fort in ‘gandu bhoomi’ in 1537 & built the little towns of Balapet, Cottonpet and Chickpet inside the fort premises itself. His son later erected four watch towers to mark the boundaries of the then Benguluru which can be found till today in the heart of the present city's boundaries. 

Moving ahead in the historic course of the human settlement, in 1638, Shahajirao Bhosle of the Maratha empire captured the city which was later under control of Aurangzeb’s army by 1687 who sold the town to Wodeyars for a sum of Rupees 3 lakh. Wodeyars built the famous LalBagh then in 1759 which is one of the most prominently laid out gardens of the city which later contributed in idealising the city as a garden city in the times to come. Wodeyars then gifted the city to the army of Hyder Ali who converted the city into an army town and when Tipu Sultan died in the 4th Mysore war, the Britishers returned it to the Wodeyars. British citizens continued living in the city from then on and the city saw its first General Post office in the beginning of the 19th century and the Army Cantonment was established in 1809. British in 1831 took over the administration of the Mysore kingdom alleging misrule and the city began blooming with modern facilities like the railways, telegraph, postal services and police departments. The first train was flagged out of the city in 1859 and the city saw its first motorcar with the onset of the 20th century. Bengaluru was the first Indian city to get electricity.  In 1881, the British returned the city to the Wodeyars and Dewans like Sir Mirza Ismail and Sir M Visvesvaraya helped the city to attain its modern outlook. 

The area of Benguluru in 1941 was 69 sq. km. with a population of just over 4 lakh which expanded a little over three times in terms of area to 212 sq. km. in 1991 while population increasing up to 10 times to over 40 lakh. The area of the city as per the census of 2011 was recorded to as 716 sq. km. with a population of around 90 lakh. In terms of the population growth of Indian cities for the decade of 2001-11 Benguluru is way ahead from it’s nearest rival of Delhi with growth rate of Benguluru being over twice than that of the city of Delhi. It was around 47% for Benguluru, around 21% for Delhi and 4% for the city of Mumbai. Around 15% of the total population of the Indian state of Karnataka lives in its capital city of Benguluru. 

Bangalore has 500,000 technology workers, about 20 per cent of India's total, according to the government. They mainly work in Whitefield, once a settlement for Britons - the country's former colonial rulers. The city's low wages and temperate climate have helped make it the world's fourth-largest technology cluster after Silicon Valley in the US, Boston and London, according to a study by Ernst & Young. The elevation of the city is 920 m above sea level which imparts the city with its mild climate making it one of the favourites to work for the working professionals. 

Rising levels of traffic mobility has increased the pace to the city’s life but also has helped in degrading the air quality making it the second most polluted city in India after Delhi in terms of the air quality. The increasing environmental related problems like increasing waste consumption, water scarcity, noise pollutionetc,. In a survey conducted within the city it was found that 25% of the children are exposed to environmental pollution decreasing their capability to utilise their capabilities to the maximum of their potential. 

One of the most important issues of the city is the ever increasing rate of consumption of waste per capita which was found around 500 grams per capita per day in 2014. The waste consumption of the city was around 650 tonnes per day in 1988 which increased to around 1450 tonnes per day in 2000. Bangalore generates around 4500 tonnes of garbage everyday in 2016 and the majority of it was being dumped in the landfills at the outskirts of the city at three prominent sites of Mayallipura, Mandur and Doddaballapur until when it was blockaded by the local communities of the periphery after suffering from the declining environmental quality for over 10 years. The garbage began coming on the streets then in the absence of a well functioning solid waste management system. Besides strengthening the waste management system, there is also a need to create awareness amongst the citizens to utilise commodities in such a manner that it decreases the waste production above everything else. The accelerated increase in the population growth rate of the city will only help in worsening the situation otherwise and as quoted in some articles the Indian version of Garden city may get turned into a ‘Garbage City’. 

Bangalore was idealised as a garden city which gives importance to its green spaces and natural system but it has found itself indulged in various environmental issues especially over the last decade. Various steps are being taken to sort out the rising issues but the adoption of the sectoral approaches hasn’t proved much beneficial since now. A city is a space where human aspirations are fulfilled in partial if not in full and not the basic needs and requirements of them are curbed in the lights of economic development. The city contributes a worthy portion to the nation’s economy and hence the city’s long term future is needed to be decided by the concerned authorities in a more clear manner based on the inter-dependent nature of the urban ecosystem. 

Images from unitarlicdntheatlantic & apnacomple

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Delhi - The Second Most Populous MegaCity

A village named as Inderpat was in existence since the beginning of the previous century which is identified with Indraprastha - the headquarters of Pandavas mentioned in the Hindu epic of Mahabharata explored by Cunningham and others in early 20th century. The transformation of this historic city since then has been phenomenal. In 1874, Swami Dayanand in his book Satyarth Prakash mentioned the etymology of Delhi for which he concluded that it was derived from the name of Raja Dhilu who he considered to be as the founder of Delhi in 800 BC. There are other versions of the story as well behind the adoption of the name but none can be substantiated with some concrete evidence. The history then moves to 736 AD when AnangPal Tomar laid the foundation stone for the Tomara Dynasty and built his capital city at SurajKund, the dynasty of whom ruled for over four centuries and also built Lal Kot when the Chauhans overpowered them and added another layer to Delhi as Rai Pithora from where the king ruled his region of supremacy.The city has experienced different phases of different dynastic powers since then where several layers of human development were added supporting in making a city which can be said to be built by people assembled from all directions of its location. The Mamluks developed Mehrauli, the Khiljis built their fort at Siri, the Tughlaqs built their cities at Tughlaqabad and Jahanpahan & later also at Ferozabad, the Suris at Sher-Garh and the Mughals gave orders first from DinPanah (then Jahangir shifted his capital to Agra) and then later from Shanjahanabad during the reign of Shahjahan which is now called to as the Old City of Delhi after which the seat of British Indian Crown was shifted to Delhi in 1911 from Kolkata where they developed the  modern version of Delhi currently named as New Delhi or as Lutyens Delhi by some till 1947 since when it became the national capital of the Republic of India. The city has a long history and has been historically one of the most cosmopolitan cities of India both culturally & inter-nationally. 

The economy of the city has grown tremendously especially after the economic reforms of 1991 which opened the gateway for performance of more intrinsic economic activities. The GDP of Delhi is around 67 billion US Dollar which ranks itself 10th amongst all the Indian states and union territories in 2014-15 which is more than the individual GDP’s of the states of Bihar, Punjab and Kerala. The concentration of development and economic activities can be distinguished if areas of these tree states is compared with that of Delhi - Bihar is around 65 times the area of Delhi, Punjab is over 30 times and Kerala is around 25 times. The per capita income of Delhi is around two and a half times than the national average. The population of Delhi was around 1.7 million in 1951 which rose to around 6 million in 1981 & to 16 million in 2011.

The city like any other has faced several urban issues over the period of its history. The central location of the city has allowed the expansion in all directions and the urban agglomeration has only increased over the last couple of decades with National Capital Region being the world’s second most populous city of the world only after Tokyo with over 25 million population. The city got its first master plan in 1962 and the planning process has become even more intense in present times due to several factors which are often left unseen during the vision development exercise. 

The increasing number of vehicles on road is increasingly adding to the existing situations of traffic congestion. Delhi has the highest number of registered vehicles amongst the Indian cities with around 88 lakh such machines (increasing over twice from around 35 lakhs in 2001) - on a comparative side, Mumbai has just 25 lakh registered vehicles in 2015. The pollution levels has increased and Delhi is amongst one of the most polluted cities on the planet despite being the greenest national capital of the Globe. Delhi’s air quality was found containing particulate matters around four times the national standards of Air quality and over 15 times the standard guidelines of WHO. Situations of seasonal smog are increasingly increasing. The noise levels of the city are also acceleratingly increasing - some of the nodes have been identified to be as stronger as to make a child deaf. The water logging of the city roads in the monsoon has also persisted which is also critical for maintaining the urban health of the city in a productive condition. The density of population of the city has increased from being 1176 persons per sq km in 1951 to 6352 persons per sq km to nearly doubling itself in the next 20 years to around 12000 persons per sq. km. 

No other mega city of India is as old as Delhi and it being the national administrative capital of India, its influence on the adoption of planning ideology by other Indian cities is huge. The adoption of metro train by other cities is one such example signifying the importance of the development approach carried out by the city of Delhi. Delhi metro started its functioning in 2002 and since then Chennai has become the sixth Indian city to have such kind of rapid rail transit system while cities like Chandigarh and Kochi are working towards it. Delhi however can not be set as an ideal example of development as the city structure and its functioning isn’t one of the best and neither two cities can have similar prototype approach. 

Delhi is a historic idealisation of rulers from different cultures and societies and this factor is rarely seen as part of the planning perspective making process in an era dominated by Recenticism. Delhi as a city has provided us with a tremendous story of physical development and in the lights of physicality the sense of belongingness and being ness can be found slowly diminishing from the life of the city. In a study conducted by Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Biological Sciences in Delhi it was found that among the students between the ages of 18-25 years of age, 64.6 percent of students reported symptoms of depression and 51.6 percent of anxiety. The city development authority shall understand the significance and importance of integrating social planning along with physical planning which will eventually bring out a more streamlined development of natural system. The physical aspects are also needed to be checked and tested with an emphasis test by means of setting a hierarchy based on inter-dependent system of the urban ecosystem. The quality of life of the citizens shall be given a wider canvas to look beyond integration of information technology into their lives. Delhi presents a live example of a city with different stages of a city’s life and if the planning fraternity understands it well then the planning process for cities can be perceived through a much more magnified vision. 

Image from rediff