Do you think that the lifestyle of
the inhabitants of your town or
city reflects behavior that is in
line with the concept of
In your opinion, what should be
The meaning: sustainable development
• The World Bank defines sustainable development as:
‘Development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own
The concept of sustainable development has been
broken down into three parts:
1. Social sustainability
2. Economical sustainability
3. Environmental sustainability
The city: MUMBAI
• Mumbai, India’s financial capital, is a huge city and the largest in India based on
population. With a population of over 13 million the metropolitan is paradoxical
in nature-It is the wealthiest city in India and has the highest GDP amongst the
cities in south, west and central Asia. It is ranked 6th in the list of top 10 cities on
billionaire count, yet, about 1/5 of the city’s population is living below poverty
line, and more than 50% of the population live in slums. The island city also has a
large population density of 22,937 people/sq.km.
Antillia- The richest man
in India’s residence in
Children in the monsoon rains in
‘Dharavi’, one of the largest
slums in Mumbai and the world
The people: ‘Mumbaikars’
• The people of Mumbai are popularly known as ‘Mumbaikars’. Indians come to
settle in Mumbai to make their dreams come true: whether it is to become the next
big businessman, a glamorous actress in the ‘Bollywood’ film industry or a small
town student coming to achieve higher education from renowned institutions, or a
villager coming to start the all famous pani-puri stall on the streets, or simply a
common man just seeking new opportunities, this island city attracts migrants
from all over India thus making it the melting point of many communities and
cultures. Mumbai caters to everybody’s needs and somehow has also managed to
fit everyone in but, this is being taken for granted and needs to change in the
interest of the city and its present and future inhabitants.
Actresses in the
People from various
communities at the
Mumbai railway stations
The lifestyle: does it reflect
behaviour in line with the concept
of sustainable development?...NO
• There is excessive wastage and pollution of resources like land, water,
food, fuel and energy by the rich while, the poor have no resources to use much
less to conserve!
• There is a colossal social and economic gap between the rich and the poor in
Dean, School of Social Science at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, R N
Sharma, said: “It is true that Mumbai has a layer of silky rich people and a huge
middle class followed by the lower class and the poor…”
There is no social or economic equality present among the city inhabitants.
• With the ever increasing population of the city there is a lot of burden on
the natural resources and the environment and the city developments are
also unable to meet the needs of the present. Eventually with the present
amount of misuse and wastage of resources it will barely sustain the
generations to come.
The problem: infrastructure
• The pipelines in Mumbai are more than a 100 years old. They are corroded
and cracked at places. In congested parts, the sewage lines and the water lines
run together and leakages contaminate drinking water.
• Mumbai is a concrete jungle. There is inadequate infrastructure or space
for parks and open spaces. This results in reduction in oxygen levels and
lack of recreational facilities.
• More than half of the Mumbai’s population i.e. the slum dwellers live in very
small areas with no proper amenities like water, food, electricity and in
unhygienic conditions and it adversely affects their health and quality of life .
• Insufficient transport network - The Mumbai Suburban Railway has the
highest passengers density in the world of 6.3 million people travelling daily but
even though new trains have been added they are not sufficient to comfortably fit
in all the passengers.
Overfull trains during
peak time-people hanging
on the train coach exits
Old pipelines running
through the garbage
dump in slums
The problem: pollution
• The quality of life in Mumbai has taken downturn in the last 5 years
due to increasing levels of air, water and noise pollution.
• There are 674 vehicles/kilometer of road length. The roads in Mumbai
are not big enough to fit in so many vehicles. The roads spot innumerable
potholes which cause discomfort while travel. Several toxic gases, such as
nitrogen dioxide, are emitted during traffic congestions when the
vehicles are not in a state of motion and burn more fuel for less distances. Also
due to widespread construction work, dust and other harmful particles are
emitted into the air thus causing air pollution.
• Wastes and garbage thrown into the water bodies of Mumbai cause water
pollution thus endangering the aquatic ecosystems.
• Mumbai is one of the noisiest cities in the world. The noise due to excessive
honking due to persistent traffic, of burning crackers in festivals like ‘Diwali’
and loud music during festivals cause noise pollution, which increases the
risk of disturbed sleeping patterns and high blood pressure.
Mumbai covered in smog
Waste washed on to the
shore by the sea
The problem: festivals
• In Mumbai a lot of festivals are celebrated. The celebration of some
unintentionally harm the environment. It is not that people should stop
celebrating these festivals in totality but should celebrate them wisely so that
there is no adverse effect on the environment.
• Diwali- Burning of crackers in the festival cause air and noise pollution .
• Holi- A lot of water is wasted in playing holi and most of the colours used
for playing are not organic. The colours mix with the water and when it
finally reaches the sea it contaminates the seawater as well. Hence an effort
to use organic colours should be made and less water should be wasted.
• Ganesh Chaturthi- Massive idols of Lord Ganesh are immersed into the water.
Most of the colours and substances used to make the idols are not
organic and they cause water pollution and loss of marine life when these
idols are immersed in water. A rule should be passed with the effect that only
organic substances should be used in the making of these idols and it will
be a win-win situation for the inhabitants and the environment.
Diwali- burning of
Idol immersion in
The root cause
• The government and the municipal corporation of the city-
Most of the blame goes to them since there are corrupt officials at almost all levels.
How can one better their city when the people who run it and are its
caretakers are the ones who break and allow others to break laws and cause
harm to the city??? Whether it is littering the streets, missing the red light at a traffic
signal or clearing a proposal to make a new building that possibly goes against city
environment laws, many times such things are treated with indifference where a bribe
of a few hundreds to a few million Rupees can get one all the clearances they need?
For e.g.: Adarsh housing society is a housing complex in the heart of
Mumbai city constructed for the welfare of serving retired personnel of the defense
services as requested by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The construction of the
building resulted in a complete scam. The scam is notable for the fact that
through active involvement of successive officials in many crucial posts blatant
transgressions were made, including obtaining No Objection Certificates from Army
towards construction of a the building in a sensitive zone. The society also violated
the Indian Environment ministry rules.
As the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India to the President of
India in 2011 put it, "The episode of Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society
reveals how a group of select officials, placed in key posts, could subvert
rules and regulations in order to grab prime government land- a public
property- for personal benefit."
• Space constraint & population explosion-The population of Mumbai is
larger than some countries in the world. Mumbai has a very high population
density such that it makes meeting the people’s demands sustainably difficult.
• The unplanned and unauthorised growth of the city makes it difficult to
replace old pipelines which pose a risk of contaminating drinking water.
• Heritage structures of Mumbai-Most of Mumbai’s buildings are decades old
and the city has a lot of heritage structures and converting them to green
buildings is a difficult task.
• Two different worlds in one city-the rich and the poor
The gap is so huge the some elite rich inhabitants of Mumbai living in the posh
neighbourhoods do not even know the other side to their city, one with extreme
levels of poverty and mass existence of slums where children are craving for even
one meal a day. How can you correct something that is wrong when you
are not aware of the fault itself?
• Although the city is progressing economically, the ever-increasing inflation is
highly affecting even basic necessities like food such that their prices have been
rising so high that even the middle class is feeling a burden of it thus, leaving the
poor completely out of hope and also negating the positive effect of
economic prosperity which could have helped the poor rise from
poverty and steadily bridge the gap between the rich and poor.
The constraints: the government &
the city municipal corporation
• Slow clearances from ministries, thus extending project durations
twice to thrice its original time may cause cancellation of the projects midway
since, the extension of time may decrease the profitability and the projects may
no longer be feasible.
Hence although steps towards sustainable development have been taken
but many projects have not managed to progress from ink to reality.
• Government projects also move at a slow pace such that it not only
defeats the purpose of the project but also results in rise in costs due to
delay, which in turn burdens the taxpayers.
For e.g.: The Bandra-Worli Sea link a landmark project to curb traffic in the city
took 10 years to complete in comparison to the projected 5 years causing a cost
overrun of about 430%.
The solutions: outline rules & laws
• Mumbai is relatively different from various metropolitans in India and around
the world. The government needs to firstly formulate a plan specific to the
nature of the city accommodating the sustainable development module.
• Drinking water is a basic necessity and should be clean and potable for
everybody. Use of man power and machinery whichever practical should be
undertaken to repair water pipelines or replace old ones.
• Increase number of personnel and the efficiency of civic authorities-
The authorities numbers need to be inline with the population. Although fines
are to be imposed for activities such as littering, most of the times there is no
official present to fine people when such rules are being broken and hence the
violations continue. Even though in the initial phase if additional personnel are
stationed to oversee problems like littering it will be beneficial in the long run.
• Pass laws that promote sustainable development and shift towards
renewable sources of energy.
• Fine amounts should be increased for violation of environment laws.
• Form a governing body to oversee work done by the civic bodies and
keep a check that the city laws are actually followed and implemented.
The solutions: drives & population
• The municipal corporation of the city although has flaws, has also taken efforts to
take the city towards sustainable development through drives like ‘Clean
Mumbai Green Mumbai’. This effort needs to be consistent and just turned up
a notch to get required results.
• Population Control– With any amount of solutions the most impact will be
through population control. The population of the city inhabitants is fast
increasing and getting out of control.
Every single day about 300 people come to settle in Mumbai and hence the city is
running out of space and resources to offer everyone.
A few years ago Dharavi in Mumbai was the largest slum in Asia. A couple of years
ago four other slums in Mumbai surpassed this population. The authorities should
have nipped the problem in the bud. Slum redevelopment projects are ongoing
presently, the authorities should strictly disallow the start or growth of
new slums and reduce the new people settling in the city through
appropriate laws and measures.
The solutions: individual efforts
The situation in Mumbai is like the one where one cannot clap with one hand
alone. The citizens and the officials need to work together on this with a
• Inhabitants should be educated to use the resources judicially and they
should consciously buy and use environment friendly products.
• People travelling in private vehicles should carpool whenever possible so that
it minimizes traffic.
• Start using bicycles and greener energy saving vehicles for private
• The government should give tax rebate incentives for people volunteering to
help in the city’s sustainable development community projects.
• Wherever possible at offices, schools and colleges, work should get digitalised
such that minimum paper is used so trees can be saved.
• Minimize wastage- Extra food and beverages at hotels, restaurants, weddings
and parties should not be thrown away but given to the poor to eat.
• Garbage should be divided into two parts in the beginning only at homes, one
that is recyclable and the other not so it saves time and energy.
The solutions: the government & the
city municipal corporation
• Awareness- Spread awareness of sustainable development. Children
and the youth should be educated in schools and colleges about it. The
government should make it mandatory for students to volunteer for such
activities as part of the curriculum and get them involved from a young age.
• Create good infrastructure- For a healthy sustainable life the city needs good
infrastructure and amenities and such projects should be prioritised and
A good network of public transport system should be set up which
can manage the public load comfortably. This will encourage people to
commute in the same and avoid private transportation like cars which will in
turn reduce pollution, traffic congestions and the burden on the roads.
• Give incentives to businesses, organisations and even households to
help save energy and conserve the environment.
• Increase green cover by planting tress and constructing gardens on building
roofs to overcome space constraint on the ground and protect the existing
green cover and mangroves in the city.
The solutions: think different!
• Transport- To ease traffic congestion and pollution the Bandra-Worli Sea link, the
monorail, and metro train projects have been undertaken but these are not viable
in all parts of the city. At such times one should harness the resource the city
has in abundance-sea water. For areas lying next the sea transport can
be carried out in ferries thus reducing the burden on the land. For
e.g.: The ‘Queens Necklace’ area in South Mumbai.
• Convert the problem into the solution- Mumbai generates 7,025 metric tons
of waste per day (MTPD). Mumbai is running out of space for waste disposal.
There is an urgent needs to treat and dispose this waste safely. Using
integrated technology Mumbai can find a use to this waste by
converting the waste to energy thus reducing the burden on coal and other
non-renewable sources of energy. With this Mumbai can counter two problems
with one solution; reduction in waste quantities at the time of final disposal
and creation of energy which will help meet the demand for energy in the city.
The solutions: think different!
• In today’s day Mumbai’s inhabitants have no time for the city, with the growing
global competitiveness in the future the prospects for dedicating time for the city
sustainance programs will be further limited.
So if the government is unable to reach out to the Mumbaikars, they
should find a way for the citizens to come to them. All the city roads and
streets are filled with political banners, if these are replaced with those urging a
step towards conserving the environment it will spread awareness amongst
the inhabitants. A drive for an environment friendly city should be advertised in
every corner of the city. On average a Mumbaikar spends about two hours everyday
in the city traffic. When the problems are staring you in your face all the
time, one will consciously or unconsciously get affected by them and
take steps to curb them even if it is in the smallest ways like not wasting water
or fuel. This effort from even a percent of the 1.3 million people will make a
Political banners envelop
every corner of the city
The first steps: infrastructure &
• Green buildings numbers steadily growing- There are about 295 registered
green building projects in Mumbai, most of which are in various construction
phases, all amounting to 229 million sq ft. space. The city ahead of its
various counterparts in the country is leading the Green Building
Movement in the country.
As the numbers steadily grow these buildings can demonstrate energy savings
of 40-50%, water savings of 20-30% and various intangible benefits.
• Interior design and architecture are turning green as professionals and clients are
becoming more aware and sensitive to the environment.
• Pollution free drives from citizens- Hindu Janajagruti Samiti had taken up
a ‘Pollution-free Mumbai’ drive. The drive was commendable and received
overwhelming response from Mumbai residents.
• Plastic bags are avoided or to be paid for at retail shops. Paper bags and
recycling are encouraged.
The first steps: transport, energy
• The public transport in Mumbai is now required to run on Compressed
Natural Gas (CNG) instead of petrol or diesel. This has reduced
pollution in the city tremendously considering 75% of all motarised trips in
Mumbai are through public transport.
• New Siemens manufactured trains introduced in the transport network are
safe, reduce carbon footprint and save energy by 40% and reduce annual
energy costs by 5 million Rupees/ train.
• Some Mumbai inhabitants have started using bicycles for transportation
instead of cars.
• Top medical care provider, the ‘Seven Hills Hospital’ situated in Mumbai is the
largest hospital in India. On account of a partnership with the Brihanmumbai
Municipal Corporation, it reserves 20% of it beds for the underprivileged at fees
comparable to public hospitals.
City cabs running on CNG
Futuristic green auto
• The spirit of Mumbai never dies- It is a city that never breaks down whether it is
from nature’s fury (floods on 26th July, 2005), or an act of humans (serial bomb
blasts- 13 July 2011, 11 July 2008, 12th March 1993 and terrorist attacks 26th
November, 2008), when the time comes the city people always come together and
unite and meet the challenge as one big family irrespective of anyone’s social status,
religion or age.
• We just need to work this unity into a force that can be channeled not only in times
of distress but also for the welfare and sustainable development of our city so that
the future generation not only gets to see what we have today but even
• Our city has given us a lot and now its payback time and surely with a
little conscious effort and push from the municipal authorities, NGOs
and the people themselves, Mumbai will work wonders. The first steps
towards sustainable development have already been taken, now the
sooner we learn to walk today the faster we can run tomorrow!