Udumbara Radio: Community Action and Responsible Urban Planning

This episode talks about what we can do as a community and the considerations that can be factored in during urban planning to conserve our natural resources.

Dr. Harini had a few interesting things to point out. There is a significant felling of trees as more and more people are moving into cities which is leading to decrease in the green cover. So, the number of people that one can pack into a square area must be regulated. Another solution that was offered was that measures could be taken by communities to increase the green cover around them. For instance, green rooftops in apartments and office spaces, more trees on the sides of roads, increasing the growth of creepers and greening of all kinds could all contribute towards enriching the green resources in our city. By doing so, we could potentially grow our own food. The bottom line is that we should clear about what we can do to change these dire circumstances is what Dr.Harini opined.

On the other hand, Sandeep believes that urban forests with their ecological diversity is the way to go. His other point of contention is with the policies adopted by the government that have been responsible for this reduction in water resilience in Bengaluru. He believes that a change in policy must be brought about and it must be now. Instead of bringing in water from sources hundreds of kilometers away, efforts must be directed towards reclaiming local water sources like lakes and tanks. The reasons for this are when water is being brought in from distant sources, the cost of setting it up is high and at least 50% of the water gets lost in transportation whereas the cost of running a local lake would be low and there would be no loss of water. His plan was to set up a water committee in each ward and give them the authority to choose their water resource as they saw fit. They can either opt to get water from outside or reclaim their lost resources and the people of the community would all have a stake in this. By doing so, every individual would have a chance to impact his surrounding and be involved in the management of their own resources without the interference of the state. But a decentralization of this nature could affect the wards that have no lakes to reclaim in the first place, how would they be able to manage their water resources? Sandeep’s solution to this was that the state could subsidize the purchases within the wards. Ultimately, he believes that there are serious flaws in our economic policies, and much won’t change unless drastic steps are taken by the central administration.

Finally, there was much talk about the rise of individual driven movements that have created a positive impact on the society. In the last couple of decades, Bengaluru has lost more lakes than any other city in the country. This has fueled an active city-wide participation in water reclamation. There are currently 40-50 lake groups which are working relentlessly to restore the lakes in Bengaluru. Multiple lakes have already been restored including Jakkur lake, the JP Nagar lake, the Putenahalli lake and many more. Sandeep himself has taken up initiative to reclaim a lake near his house.

 It’s not just about reclaiming water or increasing out green cover, we must strive collectively to save our city from degrading. We must all do our bit to save our city, our Bengaluru!

Listen in!

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