Sustainable Cities For India


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That India was an unwilling host to urbanization is seen from the rickety infrastructure in Indian cities . When research amply proves that urbanization is intractably linked to economic development and progress why is India not celebrating urbanization ?? Can India actually have sustainable cities at all ??

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Sustainable Cities For India

  1. 1. project news main feature futurarc interview futurarc showcase projects people commentary happenings books products SuStainable CitieS for india – Can the Goal be aChieved? by Karuna Gopal 1 2 The 21st century is the century of the city. in national policies and investments even till According to the United Nations, more than half today. In per capita terms, India’s annual capital the world’s population now lives in cities. Urban spending of USD17 on urban infrastructure is growth rates are the highest in the developing a mere 14 percent of China’s USD116 and a world that is absorbing an average of 5 million dismal 4 percent of United Kingdom’s USD391. new urban residents every month. The developing world is also responsible for 95 percent of the The STaTe of IndIan CITIeS world’s urban population growth. The cities of Propelled by globalisation and increasing India, the largest democracy and one of the economic cooperation between nations, India fastest-growing countries in the world, are at the experienced industrialisation, urbanisation and forefront of this change. India has the second motorisation. They came in quick succession just Karuna Gopal leads Foundation for Futuristic Cities largest urban system in the world with more than as triplets who share the same umbilical cord (FFC). FFC provides urban advisory services with a vision to transform Indian cities into economically 350 million people living in more than 5,000 do. The trio have historically been the cause vibrant, equitable and responsive cities. Her team cities. It is predicted that India will have close to and consequence of economic prosperity of contributed to the City Development Strategies of several JNNURM (India’s flagship programme 600 million living in cities by 2030. cities around the world. India was no exception. on Urban Renewal) cities in India. She lectures at Indian cities prospered and choked at the same the Indian School of Business (ISB) and the Indian Being at the epicentre of this furious time. The country had to learn that playing an Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM–A), She has addressed several international conferences on urbanisation is both an advantage and unwilling host to urbanisation had its own costs. sustainable cities; taught senior bureaucrats and an adversity for India. Cities, the hubs of policymakers on leadership and governance reforms entrepreneurship and innovation, have been Infrastructure in cities started crumbling concepts. She was a faculty/mentor for the ASCI/ WBI (World Bank Institute) Certification programme on contributing nearly 60 percent of the nation’s under pressure. The quality of life deteriorated Urban Management. She lives in Hyderabad, India. GDP and almost 85 percent of the tax revenues— so much that experts alerted the policy predictions are that the GDP contribution will go makers—urban decay was imminent they said. up to 70 percent by 2012. Indian cities are now The second largest urban system in the world being acknowledged as the engines of economic was characterised by rickety infrastructure, growth. lopsided development, slum proliferation, traffic congestion, as well as water and sanitation But rapid urbanisation is something that India deficits. Cities were screaming to be saved from was not prepared to deal with. Urbanisation noise and air pollution when the government of happened at a time when the nation was still India decided to react. The Jawaharlal Nehru singing paeans to her rural hinterlands and National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was anything remotely city-centric attracted the announced by the Prime Minister of India in ‘elite’ label. The rural bias is very much reflected 2005 with an outlay of USD20 billion. Touted74 FUTURARC
  2. 2. Sustainability is complex and requires a shift fromreactive to proactive approaches. It demands adoption ofan integrated approach to management of key serviceslike water, waste and the largest ever initiative for urban renewal, doubling of residential density would reduce Urban TranSporTaTIon –the JNNURM was anything but an ambitious almost 30 percent of driving requirement. ToUgh on TravellerSplan. It was reactive; it spoke of renewal and Compact cities normally have high-rise buildings. Delhi, the National Capital Region, losesrejuvenation, not about envisioning the future of But unlike in developed countries, enforcing strict nearly 420 million person-hours every monthIndian cities. norms on structural safety, environment and fire to commuting between home and work. This safety presents quite a challenge in the Indian is just one statistic that speaks of the state of But the programme proved to be useful context. Lack of support infrastructure and FAR congestion on Indian streets, a snapshot of theafter all. In the last five years, it unearthed the (floor area ratio) norms too work against the Indian city’s traffic scenario.systemic problems of Indian cities. It managed possibility of compact cities in pull the veil off the Indian urban service Several million vehicles ply on the streetsdelivery machinery exposing the gaps in policy, Urban SlUmS – UbIqUIToUS where vehicle-to-road length ratio is poor.process and people. and Unfazed Respirable particulate matter (RPM) is always Mumbai, the financial capital of India, is also several notches above the acceptable level;greaTer CITy – greaTer notorious for its slums. Sixty percent of the 50 percent of the road accident victims arevUlnerabIlITy city—a whopping eight million—lives in slums pedestrians; and billions of working hours are India is being swept away by a new characterised by degraded housing, poor hygiene, lost with people stuck in traffic. Footpath-to-phenomenon lately. Cities have started merging congestion, inadequate civic services and road ratio is poor in most cities. Walkabilitywith surrounding municipalities and villages deplorable quality of life. index is less than 0.6 on average and captiveto become greater cities. Delhi, Bangalore and walkers are not walking by choice—they haveHyderabad grew to anywhere between three to Mumbai is not alone; most of the metros in no access to public transport.four times. Other cities followed suit. India have anywhere between 30 to 50 percent of people living in squatter settlements. Increasing The traffic composition has significantly Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh, prosperity in the cities paradoxically increased the changed across all cities between 1994 andwas declared a greater city in 2007. As the number of poor people too. The unskilled migrants 2007. The share of motorised vehicles increasedpopulation doubled, the city swelled from 174 from the rural counterparts have access to neither from 65 percent to 90 percent while the sharesquare kilometres to 625 square kilometres. land nor jobs. It is estimated that India has a of non-motorised vehicles decreased from 35The urban sprawl of Hyderabad experienced the deficit of 50 to 70 million houses; the need for percent to 10 percent.“Doughnut Effect” resulting in a dense periphery other social infrastructure too is not far behind.that demanded more infrastructure and services Most cities showed a continuous decline inin that area. The city as such was experiencing Most of the cities have a schizophrenic the public transport during the same period.difficulties in providing water supply and configuration—extreme poverty is juxtaposed Even as the public transportation sharesewerage services to areas in the old municipal with extreme wealth. People in slums and decreased, urban sprawl increased—triplimits—the “Hi-tech City” that boasts state-of- those in iconic bungalows are street mates lengths, fuel consumption, and emissions wentthe-art infrastructure and iconic buildings had who never share the same quality of life. Social up exponentially. For growing cities like thosea maze of fibre optic lines for communication unrest, crime, violence and vandalism are the in India, the share of public transport shouldbut had no underground sewer lines. This was consequences of such a city form. ideally be around 80 percent but most have itthe state of infrastructure before the greater in the range of 40 percent. It is also a fact thatcity status. After the city was declared a greater Efforts in healing cities and making them many cities in India do not have any kind publiccity, even as the municipal corporation was slum free have not been fruitful so far. A case transport at all.restructuring itself to provide services to the in point is the Dharavi Redevelopment Project.larger area, in October 2010 the city grew yet Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum in Mumbai, has Realising that mass transport will be the onlyagain. The municipal limits were extended to almost 700,000 people crammed into just 1.75 way forward, the Indian government sanctionedcover 800 square kilometres and the urban square kilometres. The arc lights were on Dharavi Metro Rail infrastructure for several cities.agglomeration around it ballooned to 7,000 recently when 80 real estate giants were vying to There were implementation bottlenecks in somesquare kilometres. invest USD240 million for its makeover. In August cities. Activists protested only after billion-dollar 2007, the state government advertised in leading contracts were signed. Issues such as the This proclivity for greater cities is known newspapers across 28 countries, inviting bids felling of trees, absence of Environment Impactto work against the goal of sustainability. from developers. Large international consortia bid Assessments studies, not consulting citizens,Commissioners who manage Indian cities admit for the project. After creating great excitement demolition of private properties and heritagethat large cities are administrative nightmares. the project that was originally approved in 2004 structures and huge public money associatedEvidence shows that compact and dense cities is still only a project on paper even today. Why? with the project were not acceptable to themoptimise transport infrastructure, consume The ruling party that mooted the idea is no longer (the cost of Metro Rail is USD45 million perless fuel and cause less emissions. As walking in power; the bureaucrat who led the project has kilometre while the Bus Rapid Transit Systemto work and places of recreation is possible been transferred; and the number of bidders or BRTS costs only USD4 million). Transportin compact cities, they promote community interested in the project has come down to six choices were not made in a city-centric fashionbonding and social harmony—the corner stone from 14. The project cost swelled from INR 9,000 based on the transportation needs, availableof sustainability. crores to INR 15,000 crores while Orangi (in Karachi) has overtaken Dharavi as Asia’s largest International experiences have shown that slum. 1 & 2 Slums FUTURARC 75
  3. 3. c o m m e n ta r y 4 7 5 8 87 6 9 976 FUTURARC
  4. 4. For growing cities like those in India, the share of publictransport should ideally be around 80 percent but mosthave it in the range of 40 percent. It is also a fact thatmany cities in India do not have any kind public transportat all.budgets and the readiness of people to accept overlapping jurisdictions, budgetary and staff and should stop being sceptical about privatethat mode of transportation. deficits, as well as competency and capability investments. Public-private partnerships have gaps. to be pursued with renewed vigour. Concepts Transportation chaos is mostly due to a like “rurbanisation” have to be explored andlack of integrated land use and transportation Bureaucrats get transferred every two to three exploited.plans. Almost as if inspired by the mythical years, politicians and department heads can nevergod Janus who has two heads that look in get on the same page, mayors with no power or As urban transformation is an economicopposite directions, land use and transportation accountability, and vested interests are some of necessity for India, cities have to become theplans seem to be prepared in isolation. As a the realities that add to the existing confusion nation’s priority. Just a few years ago, evenresult land gets developed with no transport and chaos. Given the above any decision on as the world was reeling from the effects ofconnectivity and vice versa. infrastructure is bound to work against the goal the global financial meltdown, India exhibited of sustainability, especially for cities that are extraordinary economic resilience by posting a 7 The Delhi Metro, a rapid transit system, ever growing. Moreover, India has to deal with percent growth. With demonstrated capabilitiesthough proposed in 1960 became a reality only her colonial legacy—antiquated urban laws often in managing crises, India should get her actafter 40 long years. The Bandra Worli Sea- referred to as ‘Jurassic’ laws. right and aim for sustainable development—Link in Mumbai (a new landmark for Mumbai) better sooner than later.proposed decades ago materialised recently. It Who owns the city? Who should lead it? Who is BiBliographyreflects the city’s inequality—a USD350 million accountable and empowered? When there is no 1. Delhi Metro Rail - project was built exclusively for 2 clarity on institutions and stakeholders responsible supporting_docs/image_and_media/products/BT-PR-percent of the population and for those who own for driving the city’s agenda, development will be 20090226-MoviaDMRC-HR.jpg (accessed on 26 Oct2010)cars at that. anything but organised. 2. Dharavi Slum, Mumbai - original/1526900.jpgSySTemIC problemS The Way forWard 3. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad - http://upload. “Vision statements at best embellish the “Systemic problems cannot be solved by Andhra_Pradesh.Hyderabad.Rajiv_Gandhi_International_walls of government departments and strategy cosmetic solutions.” Airport-12.JPG (accessed on 26 Oct 2010)documents stay safe in the vaults.” 4. Bandraworli Sea Link - http://joesaward.files.wordpress. Sustainability is complex and requires a com/2009/10/mumbai-bridge.jpg (accessed on 25 Oct 2010) India’s penchant for plus size is reflected in shift from reactive to proactive approaches. It 5. Footpath – UNHABITAT (2008), State of the World’s Citiesall the policy decisions—mega projects; mission demands adoption of an integrated approach to 2008/09. Harmonious Cities. London: Earthscanprogrammes and greater cities. A plethora of management of key services like water, waste and 6. Greater Hyderabad -, programmes and projects reflect the transport. It urges participation at all levels of the special/gh.jpg (accessed on 20 August 2010)nation’s attraction to creating everything anew. community in decision-making. 7. Bangalore City Map - of reengineering the existing processes bangalore/bangalore-map.gif (accessed on 25 Sept 2010)and revisiting existing structures, new structures Many countries like United Kingdom, Southand committees are created at the first hint of a Africa and China have been able to turn around 8. Doughnut - uploads/2009/06/doughnut.jpg (accessed on 24 Sept 2010)problem. SPVs (special purpose vehicles) have their cities in less than 10 years. Prosperousbecome a norm lately. cities elsewhere in the world were never a result Please note that the images used in this article are for illustrative purposes only. of some random action. National policies and “The sheer number of different visions, corporate strategies that are pro-urban haveconcepts, plans and strategies put forward by made a difference.various government departments at differentlevels makes it difficult to rely on any of them Bold pro-urban policies, corporatised agencies, 4 & 5 Metro traffic 6 Comparison graphs 7 Water shortage 8 Rajiv Gandhi International Airportand often makes them obsolete even before and visions that articulate economic, equity and 9 Doughnut Effect/urban sprawlbeing published.” (The Urban Age Report) environmental outcomes as opposed to mere spatial plans are the first things that India should Reactive plans, poor enforcement, strong have. The country should go ballistic on city-theory and weak practice, planning agencies level reforms, gun for reliable mayors assisteddisconnected from implementing agencies, by professional city managers and aggressivelycapability and capacity gaps, issues of data invest on urban infrastructure. The Mckinseyasymmetry and reliability, planning as politics, Global Institute Report estimates that India needsoutdated laws are proving to be a recipe for to invest USD1.2 trillion just in capital expendituredisaster for Indian cities. in its cities over the next 20 years. And the root cause? The metropolitan Shackles of colonial legacy have to be brokengovernance framework in India has fragmented with imagination and boldness. The groundinstitutional responsibilities making consensus has been prepared with the 74th Constitutionalimpossible. Each city has anywhere between 15 Amendment Act that guarantees financial andto 30 agencies dealing with city management. administrative autonomy to local bodies. IndiaThese agencies have ambiguous role definitions, should not shy away from technology solutions FUTURARC 77