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Nine competing geoeconomic projects that will shape Asia’s future

From Great Game India: A global contest with at least 9 geoeconomic projects is underway in and around Asia. Regional powers are putting forward ambitious plans for building roads, railways, and other hard infrastructure across the region. A preview of a competition as wide-ranging as the region itself; whose long-term ecological cost will be incalculable.

Ahead of ‘Day Zero’, Delhi’s water crisis is about to turn into a water war

From ABC News: Delhi is one of 21 Indian cities that could run out of groundwater, according to a 2018 government thinktank report. Disputes over water often lead to violence, especially in the city’s unauthorised settlements. The state government and the local “water mafia” are drilling bores, further depleting groundwater and exacerbating the larger problem.

Priya Rajan: A window as wide as the world

I live in a concrete maze that boasts a few yards of curbed open space and calibrated greenery. High-rises clutter the view of sky; pigeons and mynahs rule the roofs. Urban wildlife often feels incongruous, surreal. A praying mantis sheltering from lashing rain makes the windowsill suddenly more meaningful, though that is not its purpose.

Why technological solutions cannot combat ecological challenges

From The Hindu: More fuel-efficient cars usually mean that car owners take many more trips, in effect nullifying the saving of fuel from the technical innovation. This simple example shows why any advocacy of a lasting technological solution to ecological challenges is only destined to set the stage for the next generation of ecological problems.

The invisible victims of an unfinished city

From Mongabay India: First envisaged in the early 2000s, Lavasa was touted as independent India’s first privately owned hill city. But over the years, the project faced numerous legal cases of usurping the land of villagers and violating environmental conditions. It’s now a ghost town with empty, unfinished construction or buildings vacated by their occupants.

Mahul, Mumbai: Unfit for human habitation

From Vice.com: “When we go to private hospitals outside, they immediately tell us that the only way to survive is to leave the area. But the doctors here tell us there’s nothing wrong. Are they saying doctors outside this area are all mad? Are the researchers who’ve declared this place unfit mad?” asks Farah Sheikh.

Air Conditoning: The all-too costly feeding and care of a familiar beast

The task of explaining the wider issues associated with air conditioning is a daunting task as the weather gets warmer. In ‘Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer)’, author Stan Cox shows how indoor climate control is colliding with an out-of-control outdoor climate.

Photo essay: Rivers of the Island City

Mumbai has four rivers: Mithi, Oshiwara, Poisar and Dahisar, which are (together) 40.7km long. And yet, for most part, they remain invisible to the city’s population. Today, haphazard development policies along with encroachments, have led to the rapid deterioration of these rivers, which have been practically reduced to drains. A photo essay by Pooja Jain.

Wary of real estate boom, a Goa village revives farming after 30 years

From The Indian Express: The residents of St. Estevam say they took to farming more due to fear of gated communities encroaching upon farmland. Nine months after the idea was mooted at the community level, this pilot project is now being tracked by the state government, which plans to take this experiment to every village.

The social ideology of the motorcar

“The worst thing about cars is that they are like castles or villas by the sea: luxury goods invented for the exclusive pleasure of a very rich minority, and which in conception and nature were never intended for the people”. So starts Andre Gorz’s justly famous 1973 essay which remains as relevant today as ever.

Toilets for all? May be a crappy idea

Sopan Joshi writes: Sanitation links the rich to the poor, the land to the water, the clean to the unclean, the sacred to the untouchable. But sanitation discussions among India’s elites is driven by a concern about India’s international image. If it evades our dirty realities, SBA will not go beyond an attempted image makeover.

Dhrubajyoti Ghosh: The intrepid ecologist and his ‘laboratory of survival’

Aseem Shrivastava writes: Ghosh insisted that human culture does not consist just of literature, cinema, music and dance. Rather, the patrimony of ecological culture, which is not just an artefact of the past, resides in the practical collective memory of communities, showing pathways of “living creatively with nature”. Such rooted wisdom lights up paths to

Caged in concrete: an Adivasi urban nightmare in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony

From PARI: The people of Aarey find their eviction and ‘rehabilitation’ absurd. Prakash Bhoir, 46, who lives in Keltipada, says, “We are Adivasis [he is a Malhar Koli]. This land is a source of income and survival for us. Can we do cultivation in those high-rise buildings? We just cannot live without soil and trees.”

Growth and garbage: A tour of India’s waste mountain

From Nature: In this in depth investigation of India’s feeble fight against consumerist waste, are robust statistics, compelling history and telling case studies. The authors, anthropologist Assa Doron and historian Robin Jeffrey, also throw the occasional philosophical curve ball, such as: “waste is in the eye of the beholder”. The result is both beguiling and disturbing.

What urban waste has to do with global warming

From The Indian Express: Greenhouse gas emissions from solid waste disposal by India increased at the rate of 3.1% per annum between 2000 and 2010, and by China at 4.6% per cent between 2005 and 2012. In both cases it is likely that the figures are underestimated, since they don’t consider emissions from waste transportation.

Obituary: Dhrubajyoti Ghosh, intrepid defender of Kolkata’s wetlands

Dhrubajyoti Ghosh, one of India’s most courageous and persevering environmentalists, is no more. Here’s a tribute to Ghosh, best known for his campaign to save East Kolkata’s wetlands and its fisher and farming communities from the city’s real estate mafia. Also included, a video where he explains the concepts of cognitive apartheid and positive footprint.

Cape Town is running out of water. Guess who’s next?

From BBC: Cape Town is in the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water. But Cape Town is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are the 11 other cities worldwide that are most likely to run out of water.

When cities were Nature’s haven: a tale from Bangalore

We tend to think that nature and cities are polar opposites. Delhi’s steadily worsening ‘airpocalypse’ only reinforces this binary. But this wasn’t always so. In her book ‘Nature in the City’, Harini Nagendra takes a deep dive into Bangalore’s ecological history, going way back in the past to the 6th century CE, with surprising results.

What exactly is a smart city? The Indian government does not want you to know

From Scroll.in: How does the government define a smart city under its much-publicised Smart City Mission? This may never be known. An exercise to set clear benchmarks to assess when exactly a city is delivering a high enough quality of life to be declared a smart city was shut down by the urban development ministry.

Sand mining: the global environmental crisis you’ve probably never heard of

From The Guardian: Cities are expanding at a pace and scale far greater than at any time in history. The global urbanisation boom is devouring colossal amounts of sand–the key ingredient of concrete and asphalt. In the past few years, China alone has used more cement than the US used in the entire 20th century.

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