Monthly Archives: March 2009

City Water Bodies: Urban Wetlands

Sunil Laxman over at Balancing Life writes a very convincing case for Urban Wetlands. Most Indian cities have lakes or water bodies that are part of the city, but many of them are in a really bad shape.

Urban wetland management unfortunately is not much of a concept in most of India. Yet this lake is just one example of the kind of diversity and richness of life in lakes around the city. It is also a fine example of a lake that could easily be made into a city nature park. To do that, only a little needs to be done to protect the wetland. Obviously, preventing encroachment around the lake would be a priority, as would be stopping the flow of untreated sewage that is choking the lake would be an obvious other step.

In addition, the usual mismanagement of “lake development” that most city authorities eagerly embrace should be avoided. Usually, the city decides to build a big “garden” around lakes, which means manicured lawns, paved paths, lots of flowers and trees that don’t usually grow in wetlands, and a complete destruction of the wetland around lakes.

This usually ends up slowly killing the lake. Most of these birds live and nest amidst the reeds that grow in lake wetlands, nurturing a rich ecosystem that supports frogs, breeding fish, small reptiles and small insects. Unfortunately, “beautifying” or “developing” lakes by building parks only breeds mosquitoes (by killing off fish and dragonflies that eat them, and breed in the reeds). The Yediyur lake in Jayanagar was a thriving lake that was killed off by just this effort of “development”. First came some lawns, and then there were motor boats and motor scooters, and now it is just a little swamp that breeds mosquitoes.

 

Continue reading Sunil’s entire entry here.

Think of people when you develop: activists

Express News Service
A week after the state government decided to set up a committee for ‘Slumless Mumbai’, activists have called for the need to keep inclusive development at the heart of any new policy.

On Monday, at a panel discussion held by the housing rights group Ghar Banao Ghar Bhacao Andolan, several social activists highlighted the absolute lack of people-centric development in a majority of policies of the state government. The activists who were part of the panel include Urban Studies professor at Tata Institute of Social Studies Amita Bhide, architect and urban researcher Neera Adakar, transport expert Sudhir Badami and leader of National Alliance of People’s Movement Medha Patkar.

“The problem with committees like the one that has been formed for transforming Mumbai into a ‘slumless’ city as well as existing schemes like SRA, is that it is focused on increasing the Floor Space Index. No thought is given to the fact that resettling slumdwellers in tiny flats in highrises means adding more density and straining the infrastructure,” said Adarkar. She gave the example of the Dharavi Redevelopment Scheme where slumdwellers were first promised bigger homes and then the FSI was increased in a way that the developers too get to construct more flats for selling in the open market.

Continue reading Think of people when you develop: activists