Oct 182012

This will puncture Delhi’s carefully crafted claim of being an environmentally friendly city on the basis of the widely prevalent greenery. The latest United Nations report on world cities ranks the national capital virtually the lowest among 95 cities in the environment index.

The ‘State of the World’s Cities’ report by UN Habitat released on Wednesday has assessed the prosperity of the cities on various parameters such as productivity, quality of life and environment sustainability.

Delhi has scored only 0.448 (maximum is 1) in the last category, much less than even Dhaka and Kathmandu . Delhi’s poor record in this segment has contributed to the lower ranking of the national capital at 58 among 95 select cities.

Acity will be considered to be environmentally sustainable, according to this report, when it values protection of the urban environment and natural assets while ensuring growth.

It should also be seeking ways to use energy more efficiently, minimize pressure on surrounding land and natural resources and minimize environmental losses by generating creative solutions to enhance the quality of environment.

The environmental sustainability index is made of three sub-indices – air quality (particulate matter10), CO2 emissions and indoor pollution.

“While Delhi has progressed a lot and urban infrastructure development has been significant, the pollution level here is higher than most of the other cities.

This is a crucial aspect of assessing prosperity of cities across the globe. Public transport is inadequate and there is huge scope for improvement in all these sectors,” said Eduardo Lopez Moreno, head of the city monitoring branch of UN Human Settlement Programme .

The huge increase in personal vehicles on Delhi’s roads has been one of the major factors contributing to the deterioration in the ambient air quality of the captal. The city is also far behind Mumbai in the environment index.

In infrastructure development, however, it has left many cities, including Manila, Jakarta and Mumbai, far behind. “But what has gone against the Indian capital is its poor ranking in the productivity index.

Data shows that almost 7-8 in every 10 jobs created in Delhi are from the unorganized sector. People working in these sectors always fear losing jobs and that impacts productivity,” Moreno said.

Releasing the report, AK Mishra, secretary, ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation, said that surveys have found that about 60 per cent of people in urban areas in India don’t have an assured source of income and that most of the urban funds, whether meant for roads, sewage or water supply, go to “well-off” areas as compared to undeveloped areas inhabited by the poor.

“We need to find ways to give the poor a say in the regional planning in master plans. In the name of any new plan, including transit-oriented development, you can’t keep pushing the poor to the outskirts where they have access to nothing. That will create greater inequality,” said Mishra.


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