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Future Cities -Its time to build the 1st of 100 promised.

23 Jun

The above example to start my argument has been put to ally the fears of those who still think that to live and work in a sustainable environment we have to go back to the stone age.

The need of the hour is to build projects which produce their own water and energy and this is very much possible. It also would give a positive fillip to the traditional business as the building industry is perhaps the only sector which uses all products and thus all sectors have a chance in participating in the development and growth of India.

There would perhaps also be a meeting of minds between those who think development is an anathema to environment as opposed to those who think “NGO’s are the sleeper cells of foreign power out to destroy India’s growth.” (foreign funding of NGO’s)

Let me first introduce you to what the world is thinking and then we shall proceed to what can be done with the knowledge resource and funds presently available. As most often lofty futuristic ideas fail to take-off and the “artist impression” remain as a poster or a screen-saver in some personal lap-top/office desk.

So let’s begin with what the World is thinking.

Vincent Callebaut’s Lilypad -Proposed as a “Floating Ecopolis for Climate Refugees”, which can house around 50,000 inhabitants.

Vincent Callebaut will find a place for himself in the year 2100 when half the coastline in the world have disappeared due to increasing sea surface. (more).

If one looks closely the image has a striking similarity to the coastline of Mumbai. Perhaps the town-planners who are thinking of building the ambitious “Shivaji Statue” off the coast could  increase their ambition to adopt such projects within the original concept. Which at once would catapult them to the pages of history for thinking beyond tokenism.

The Harvard Gazette article by staff writer Corydon Ireland, in March 2013 stated –

By the end of this century, sea levels could rise worldwide by 3 feet or more, inundating coastal cities and spurring catastrophic storms roughly every three years.

In Africa, at least 20 cities — including Cairo, Egypt; Cape Town, South Africa; and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo — are especially vulnerable to rising seas. At the top of the list is Lagos, Nigeria, a fast-growing, low-lying coastal city of 13 million. By the year 2100, sea levels there are expected to have risen nearly 4 feet.

Houses and roads in Lagos are built on spongelike terrain that was once sandbars, lagoons, and mangrove swamps. Lagos is also riven with a confluence of inland rivers, adding to its vulnerability to flooding. In 2011, intense rainfall flooded homes, overwhelmed sewers, and turned streets into rivers. Hardest hit in such events are the poor. Slums already hold 70 percent of people in Lagos, a city that draws 3,000 more residents every day.

Many in Mumbai would find resonance to the above stated.

A floating oil platform is tugged from the harbor in the northern Russian port of Murmansk.

Now before we start baulking at the idea of designing ambitious projects such as the one shown above and discard them off-hand we must look around ourselves. Have we not already achieved the skills required for building such projects? If we just look towards Bombay High the off-shore oil rig a few miles off the coast of Mumbai, it is more or less a floating city. People work and live on it. And the engineering marvel has reached such a peak that there are many superb rigs off the coast of Scandinavia in the rough and cold Arctic sea. Like this Russian platform in the image.

How wonderful it would be when we would be able to use this technology not to further destroy the World we live in but to limit loss and damage brought about by Climate Change due to our insatiable thirst of fossil fuel.

For should we choose not to do that Nature, would surely make us pay for our follies. And there must have been a reason for the wise of yore to call nature, “Mother”. For she too at first gently admonishes before punishing for repeated mistakes we make.

IMG-20140613-WA0013

Unusually High tide was seen in Mumbai due to the Cyclone Nanauk

This month Nature visited us with a warning sent via Cyclone Nanauk. The unusually high tide, a result of the cyclonic effect; inundated many low-lying parts of Mumbai coast-line.

While there were tourist enjoying the spray of sea-water, the slum dwellers staying in the low-lying shanty towns were left with brakish water in this sweltering summer heat. Bereft of basic drinking water they suffered silently.

Once more highlighting the fact that Climate Change would hurt the poor and the vulnerable the hardest.

It is therefore time we the citizens wake up to the fact that Climate change is a clear and present danger. True natural disasters have been happening without any anthropogenic interventions for millennia and would continue to do so.

All that the scientific evidence has pointed out is that we have with our high fossil fuel dependence accelerated the process.

For those who are still not convinced, need not unnecessary fret. Just get into the bandwagon of “Sustainable growth” as being envisaged by our Prime Minister. It would be a good enough start as any.

For surely everyone wants to live in an integrated city of the future and to build it we need the expertise of all practitioners from all sectors. And if the rules which we think would govern building those cities don’t get diluted and corrupted in the process,we shall truly have a sustainable economy which India could ride upon.

 

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