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Tag Archives: Urban area

Sustainable idea: Habitat -III; can it deliver what Habitat -I & II could not?


Habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant, or other type of organism.It is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds (influences and is utilized by) a species population.

Habitat III is the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, to take place in 2016.

Habitat III will bring together cities, governments, civil society, the private sector, education institutions and interest groups to review urban and housing policies affecting the future of cities within an international governance architecture and to generate a ‘New Urban Agenda’ for the 21st century which recognizes the ever-changing dynamics of human civilization.  Habitat III will benefit from recent experiences of cities and their partnerships with different stakeholders, including city-to-city partnerships, private sector participation and engagement of different types of grass-roots federations that demonstrate the potential to create greener, more resilient and more liveable cities. – (more).
And that is where the problem lies. Modern Humans can not build shelters to house themselves without displacing each and every other living stake holder of this Planet. Whenever Human civilization has thrived, there has been habitat loss.This systematic loss is now manifesting itself with so much force that many more need to understand the true meaning of sustainable living.
It is therefore imperative that we interpret the meaning and form of Habitat, from the perspective of a common man. And that includes and most importantly so the Politicians, who sitting in the governments are the chief ratifiers of policy. Politicians at best are social scientists. Those who are qualified usually draw their strengths from finance and law. Thus the concept of Habitat which should be based on the ecological and the environmental gets confused with shelter for Humans in the eyes of the uninitiated.This has gone unnoticed all but by a few environmentalists until now. Therefore  there is a lot to be done.
While it’s good to follow the golden rule of – ” once you don’t succeed, try try try again !”
One must notice that we are given only three chance. There is never time for the fourth, as Armageddon is upon us by then.
Habitat -III  in its true sense must being to mean -” the only habitable planet in this Universe”. EARTH.

While the intent of United Cities and Local Governments (ULGC) in noble, as with every United Nation linked program; support for propagation of its ideas must be intensified. It must begin with advocating the ills of present form of unsustainable Urban living to what must be the ideal. And for that it must showcase the ills of the present, while bring out the solutions to fore which can be easily understood and adopted by even the most disinterested citizen of that city.

When we achieve that. The original Habitat (  Gaia read Earth ) may just give us the one last chance, we so desperately need; to continue leaving our footprints in the sand of time for a little while more.

That we are destroying the habitat, is understood by some. Heard by many and being acted upon by a very dedicated few. However to make this into a mass movement we need to conclusively and continuously prove how our present habitat  & life-style is destroying us. Each link tells us a story. What is needed is that the story be read not only by those who already know. But forced upon those who don’t care to.

Blaring sound during Ganpati forces seniors, kids to take precaution to avoid health hazards

Rise in sea temperature may attract jellyfish to city shore

Second dengue death in two weeks in city, blame game on

Locals on a mission to clear mess near Muchalla college

Lack of space derails NMMC’s stray-sterilisation programme

Now, top floor residents’ nod must to install mobile tower

Ten tonnes of floral waste collected during first visarjan

Thirsty cities, parched villages

BEST buses claim 37 lives every year: Cops

Unable to conceive? Blame it on stress, say Mumbai doctors

Mumbaikars are stressed out.– these are news headlines which hit the Newspapers of the city of Mumbai with a monotonous regularity.

Mumbai or the city of Bombay as it was called by the British is indeed a “maya nagari”.  Maya in the Hindi language means illusion.

Just as the birth of this city, which seems solid but is just a land-fill between seven shallow islands surrounded by the Arabian sea. So is the lives of those who live here. For the outside world it is all pomp and show of Bollywood (Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi language film industry based in Mumbai (Bombay), Maharashtra, India.) but those living mostly sweat it out like a Slumdog; while dreaming of becoming a millionaire.

Maya!

CityNotice any residential project advertisement in any media in Mumbai. And one would never fail to find  picturesque images surrounding the proposed project in all sides. Even if the project is situated in the heart of the city of Mumbai !

 In the quest of living around scenic countryside we keep building on top of the same ground which attracted us with its pristine untouched beauty.

There is a saying – “you can’t eat a cake and keep it too.”To live alongside nature one must respect what is natural. Be one with Nature.

NA plotsBecause a healthy Habitat can not be built of carcass of the dead. By destroying an ecosystem, the indigenous flora & fauna, to expect Gaia to cheer for our well-being is a misplaced thought.

The end result is and always will be Maya – the illusion !

ugly city

 

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Green Business Ideas: Carbon Credits opportunities in Green Townships.


Most women & men have an emotional connect with the home they have lived as a child. In India families often live their entire life in one abode for generations. Even as India grows from its rural to more urban setting, the people still like to retain their “ancestral” home while moving into the swanky new home. There are some emotions which no one likes to part with; and childhood memories are perhaps the most important.

Perhaps many around the world  would share similar sentiments. Some want to make a retirement home, some would want a second home. Given a choice nearly every human would want to identify her/himself with something that is familiar.

This gives rise to a super Green Business Idea, which has manifold potential in rescuing Gaia from Global Warming.What if, future towns and cities are made as replicas ? Modern India has done that and, unfortunately forgotten about it. Cities like Rourkela, Bokaro, Durgapur & Bhilai which have almost similar design created by the master architect. If one pauses to think we have in almost all large cities, the state / city development authority housing board, which make ” affordable ” housing blocks. The typology remains the same over different locations. I think its time for a revisit and see it with new light in the context of abatement of climate change. Imagine High rises, commercial districts, row-houses and bungalows all having same or similar design ? Developed by private entities based on market demand, but following Development Rules which have been strictly adhered to. What would be the advantages, lets examine  in brief and re-kindle the thoughts which are perhaps lost in time.

The most exciting part is the CDM ( clean development mechanism ) potential. Every building has potentially two methods for adoption, to earn Carbon Credits. One is to reduce its embodied energy through better management of building materials. And the other is to reduce its Water and Electrical energy consumption. While the latter is comparatively easy and ‘meth’ AMS-III AE is recognised by the CDM Board. It is the embodied energy reduction that  has greater potential in terms of actually reducing GHG  as building related activities account for 40% of the Emission and 60% of waste is construction related.  However it is difficult to map it  and manage the MRV.( Monitoring – Reporting -Verification.) especially in the Building industry within the Construction sector in India. And this is precisely where I see a solution, should we make ‘replica townships’. We already have the datum to compare. The planned steel townships were made just after Indian independence. It has as any township should have – residential blocks, commercial blocks and infrastructural blocks such as schools, hospitals, cinemas,  police station, post-office , bus and railway terminals. So a major portion of the township plans would be available along with records of construction process; which would be archaic as per today’s construction methods (barring the A- centres of India, tier -II & III along with most rural setting still follow the old method of construction) but the layout plan is excellent. So with foresight and statesmanship, ( wishful thinking does not attract punitive punishment under any law ) should the Indian government both at Union and State level want to pursue its own stated Nation Mission for Sustainable Habitat under NAPCC; they should pass laws under Urban Planning which can make this thought into reality. As the Union government has already created the fantastic Mission, all it needs is to rise above political compulsions and address the issues at the Federal level, by becoming the facilitator in creating sound policies for the States, which then follows the path towards sustainable development.  And the benefits would be several.

First the  Urban Planning will be made easy – The biggest challenge the Urban planners face is the assumptions one needs to take into account, while proposing a new township. What would be the population density? What would be  the amount of water and energy requirement ? How will the municipal requirements met?  How best to accurately calculate cost of development. Where-all would the failure of oversight be, causing unplanned growth or breed corruption? Because post the master layout plan, the State development authority has no control { which is correct to an extent } over what would be the look and size of the building which would come up within the designated zone of the master plan. All such issues would become more streamlined and thus decision making more easy as the learning process gets more refined with each replica township coming up every-time.

The master-plan need not be a monotonous one. India has 5 – climatic conditions and design guidelines based on these are already incorporated in the National Green Building certification program – GRIHA. Therefore Master planners can create guidelines which conform to region and state specifically. However, within that area the designs can remain similar. Further, the best practices followed in other climatic zones and states would be available for record to plan better Climate Resilient cities, which is the underlying purpose of this article too. Imagine the potential, should a developer choose three typical design and develop different projects, in 3 different cities within one climatic zone. While the town-planing would differ in layout and scale, the buildings built therein being the same, would reduce cost of construction to a great extent. Design inputs required would reduce, while scope of improvement increase with every project thus designed. As every project has some amount of wastage, knowing the quantity to a more sure approximation, would help in planning for Reduce – Reuse -Recycle as enshrined within the Green Building methods both LEED & GRIHA.

Further a brand identity would be built. A building design can be copy-righted so to speak. And what an emotional connect it would be for the newly wed Bride, who has sadness in her heart for having left her ‘Babul ka aangan’,(fathers home) finds that her ‘Pia’ (husband) has the same bungalow she grew up in. Familiar setting instils confidence and a confident and happy new Bride can do wonders in settling herself well into the new life, she would be beginning.  That it would earn the builder/developer a permanent costumer (extremely difficult in this era of multiple choices), is another happy story. And if we speak of men,  I’m a member of an on-line group which was created by my childhood school mates and friends. We all lived in a gated township of a multinational company, where our fathers worked. Today of the 300 odd members, 51% would surely buy a home, should I design the replica of the town we all grew up in !

And the final winner would be my Countrymen, most are laymen when it comes to understand the importance of town-planning and Sustainable Urban development.  By providing them with standardized product, they would have more informed choice to take the right decision, as they do while buying their refrigerator or car. And most importantly it perhaps would become easier to decongest the future Megalopolis. For why would one not move into a newer town for better prospects while still be able to live within similar surroundings ? And why would people migrate to a particular city when similar ones are next door offering similar opportunities ?

And the final thought would be, the Urban planners should consider bio-mimiciry in their town planning. As technology would allow us to make higher sky-scrapers, rules must define low rise zones to be closer to coast and high rise more inland, this simple thought would allow for more natural wind flow pattern, which will help limiting air  pollution.

While no one can make another New York, Hong Kong  or Mumbai in similar form, potential or opportunities the new ones at least would have a future of their own making and who knows better the best that is in offer today.

Moreover Climate Resilient Cities which I am proposing would be offering a more prettier skyline than what any present day modern megalopolis has to offer. To underscore my point, which from all the above images posted in this article would you choose first for a postcard ?

I rest my argument !

 

 

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The Gen Next will demand a Green Building


Awareness on Climate change is profound in Urban Indian schools. This I found when, invited by the district Rotary president of the area I live in Mumbai, I gave a lecture on Green Buildings in a school & a law college. During the short question and answer session, I was amazed at the grasp and depth of understanding many possessed about ” Global warming”. It was encouraging.

In my earlier article I had shown that by simply recycling steel jotter pens one can Reduce the impact of mining for iron-ore. ( Green Business Ideas –  CDM methods for Steel Production ) What if we can inculcate the idea of Reduce – Recycle – Reuse to the school children across all schools. Especially in the Urban  areas ? According to the UNICEF data the total number of school children in India were 113.8 million in 2000-01; Which in the last ten years has increased. Say if we just take into account 50% of these schools which would be imparting basic knowledge of Global Warming, we have a huge youth population which by the year 2025 be the next “consumer” of all product and produce the market has to offer.

The World business better gear up for all things green. It is the only alternative they would have especially in the Urban centers of India. Further India along with China are predicted to grow phenomenally, and growth by default means high carbon growth. Actually if you read an article by atradersrant – It is not the CO2, it is the waste heat that goes with every kiloWatt of electricity produced, which is the real cause of global warming. This actually helps rest the climate skeptic arguments that CO2, being a natural gas can not harm Earth, but at the same time proves that because we have not yet perfected the art of energy manufacturing and consumption, the waste heat is in fact coming from inefficient burning of fossil fuel – thus carbon.

Global Warming 1/2

Global Warming 1/2 (Photo credit: lamazone)

An article stated – “Asia has been responsible for over two-thirds of the growth in global energy demand over the past two decades. As, above all, China and India race towards prosperity, they will burn coal in huge volumes. The resulting emissions of carbon dioxide will be among the biggest hurdles in the way of a global agreement on limiting climate change …Where China leads, India lumbers behind, also burning an awful lot of coal, and hungry for more electric power. Some 70% of its electricity comes from coal. The national grid has expanded hugely in recent years. But it still leaves about 300m people without a connection. In projections of increased energy demand over the next 25 years, India is second only to China…Like China, it is ploughing resources into nuclear power, oil-and-gas exploration and imports, and renewable energy. Like China, too, however, India finds coal the obvious option. It is something it has plenty of—already the world’s third-largest producer, it has the world’s fifth-biggest coal reserves. But it cannot exploit them fast enough to meet demand. In fact, output has not increased for two years. Coal India, the state monopoly, blames the difficulty of securing mining permits. So India may soon become the world’s biggest coal importer.On current trends, as estimated by McKinsey, India’s carbon emissions will increase by about two-and-a-half times by 2030, by which time its power industry alone will account for about one-tenth of the total rise in global emissions. Like China’s government, India’s points out that, per head, its people will still be producing far less carbon dioxide than Americans or Australians (though China is rapidly catching up with some European countries in pollution per person). And, in India’s case, total emissions (at 5 billion–6.5 billion tonnes) will remain well below China’s. “

Well below China does not mean that we shall be having a pollution free Country. With health -care still out of reach of millions and cultural propensity of not adhering to any civic sense, the massive pollution would only spell disaster for the country if not arrested. Alternative energy sources and energy efficiency  for continued development is the need of the hour. If we do what the article predicts the intense global pressure the UNFCCC members would be bearing upon us, would make trade difficult. And it is the youth of today who would face the hardships of trade embargo, which is sure to follow as man-made related Climate change problems rise.

Yes, while everyone knows that it is the Developed Nations which have created this mess,it does not give sanction to any other Nation to follow the foolish path of high carbon development model.

So coming back to the point, India must follow the full course it has set out under NAPCC and not get derailed by “smart economics” enshrined in crony capitalism. It is a superb Green Business Idea and the coming generation of young Indians will want India to follow this path as it would surely make our Nation First among equals. And it is logical, because the youths are more aware of the problems they would be facing – In 2010, climate-related extreme events and disasters affected some 300 million people, most often in countries which have little capacity to cope.

Young India is aware of this and  the disaster of Fukushima brought home by the TV has left an impression even on the minds of Rural India. Moreover the youth today are connected by social media and many have seen the video which shows how disaster has struck USA in the past year, while this video  was suggested by a young student to me, it is a bit dramatic but overall it has captured some of the worst disasters, which people around the World have faced in 2011. These events coupled with the increased awareness of Climate change, has been shifting the dynamics of thinking. Climate Resilient cities which the UN proposes becomes more and more acceptable idea, then it would have been 25 years ago. And to those youths on whose shoulders the future of this Nation would eventually rest, and are still skeptic about the effect of Humans activities on Climate , below  is a thought to ponder upon –

While it is very common, World over for young people to say ” I can’t live without my – car; dog; cell phone, shoe or fancy clothes etcetera. An Oxfam report suggested that by 2030, climate change could push food prices up by 50-90 percent more than they would otherwise be expected to rise. And then many would just seriously not be able to live. Because if there is one thing Human’s can’t live without – its food & water. It is the way all living things are, all need sustenance. So its time the “intelligent living beings” we like to call ourselves – learn about Sustainable living. And what could be better than “the smarter generation” which youths like to call themselves leading the way!


 

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