Bio- Medical Waste Management in Bhubaneswar


Improper procedures of medical waste management have been reported from many places. At the global level, up to 64 per cent of healthcare institutions are reported to have unsatisfactory biomedical waste management (BMWM) facilities. Expansion of healthcare facilities and the recent trend of using disposables have led to an unprecedented burden of healthcare-related wastes. Since the last decade, unregulated handling of biomedical wastes is emerging as a serious threat to human health and safety.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) observes the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28 to promote prevention of occupational accidents and diseases. April 28 is also the day on which the world’s trade union movement holds its international Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers in memory of the victims of occupational accidents and diseases.
Biomedical wastes are generated in the diagnosis and treatment of human and animal diseases. Hospitals, clinics and laboratories produce huge quantities of biomedical wastes, which pose occupational health risks to those who generate or come in contact with them. According to the WHO, almost 80 per cent of medical wastes are benign and comparable to domestic wastes. The remaining 20 per cent is considered hazardous.
In many cities, collection, segregation, transportation, and disposal of solid wastes has been done in a very unscientific way. Segregation of wastes has not been done before disposal. Solid wastes contain biomedical waste and sometimes other toxic and hazardous wastes.
The wastes from hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, etc., are apparently infectious unless treated carefully. These wastes include blood-soaked bandages, culture dishes and other glassware, discarded surgical gloves, discarded surgical instruments, discarded needles, etc. All activities in medical waste management from collection to disposal involve risk either to the worker directly involved or to nearby residents.
Occupational health and safety now has an impact on every worker in every workplace. Employers have a duty to prevent occupational diseases by taking preventive and protective measures through assessment and control of risks at work. Poor management of healthcare wastes potentially exposes health workers, waste handlers, patients and the community at large to infection, toxic effects and injuries.  Prospective workers should be educated about the biohazards to which they may be occupationally exposed, the types of exposures that place their health at risk, the nature and significance of such risks as well as the appropriate first aid and follow-up for potential exposures.
The Constitution of India has detailed provisions for the rights of citizens and also lays down the Directive Principles of State Policy which set an aim to which the activities of the state are to be guided. On the basis of these Directive Principles, the Government is committed to regulate all economic activities for management of safety and health risks at workplaces and to provide measures to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for every working man and woman. The Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rule 1998, prescribed by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, came into force on July 20, 1998.
Hospital wastes can be categorised and segregated on the basis constituents. Such as infectious materials containing dangerous concentrations of waste, if exposed, can cause diseases are included in this category. It includes wastes from surgery on patients with infectious diseases; sharp disposable needles, syringes, blades, broken glasses or any other items that can cause injury; pharmaceuticals like drugs and chemicals that are returned from wards, spilled, expired, contaminated or exposed for longer period are included in this category. There are also radioactive like solids, liquids and gaseous wastes contaminated with radioactive substances used in diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
Whether the method of disposal is on-site or off-site, biomedical wastes must be segregated from the general waste stream. If biomedical wastes are mixed with general refuse, the total waste stream would require special treatment and handling. Waste segregation relies on the waste being segregated at its point of generation and placed into appropriate waste containers. Segregation permits facilities to effectively divert those materials that are recyclable, require special handling or disposal. Used syringes need to be disposed of in an environmentally safe manner. Syringes and needles must be damaged before they are put in containers.
There is a need of proper management of biomedical wastes. In this regard, public awareness will play an important role in addressing the issue at local level. Various types of awareness programmes are being organised to spread awareness for management of this problem. Policies and procedures should be made available and include methods of segregating, packaging, labeling, moving, storing, treating and transporting the various waste types and a  list of all regulations and legislations concerning biomedical wastes and provision for regular, ongoing staff instruction about proper handling and potential hazards of biomedical waste.
Workers and their organisations have a right to be involved at all levels in formulating, supervising and implementing prevention policies and programmes for occupational safety and health and prevention of occupational diseases.
It has been felt that the solid waste management in Bhubaneswar is not in tune with the rapid development of the city. The indiscriminate disposal of biomedical wastes poses a great risk to human health and environment in the city. The hazardous and infectious wastes from hospital and nursing homes are at present disposed of in a manner which is not environmentally sound. Within the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation areas there are five Government hospitals, two private hospitals, 17 Government Dispensaries, about 20 nursing homes which generate a total of one tonne of biomedical wastes every day. The wastes are currently dumped along with municipal solid wastes. This poses high risks to the city.
There are no demarcated dump yards for biomedical waste disposal in Bhubaneswar. Many open areas in the city have been converted into dumping yards. Medical wastes are simply dumped with other solid wastes in different locations. These sites are visually unpleasant without any visual barriers. Besides, open dumping often leads to a number of problems like air, water and ground pollution, spread of diseases, etc. People involved in the disposal process can suffer from needle stick injuries. This can happen during the disposal of the used syringe or even after disposal to those involved in recovering them. Of all the potential sources of infection transmission from biomedical wastes, needle sticks are of prime concern to the health staff and the community at large.
The management of solid wastes including biomedical waste should, therefore, be a priority for the city of Bhubaneswar. Protection against personal injury is essential for all workers who are at risk. The individuals responsible for management of healthcare wastes should ensure that all risks are identified and suitable protection from those risks is provided. It is essential that all medical waste materials are segregated at the point of generation, appropriately treated and disposed of safely.


Odisha tops Malaria states in India


Malaria is one of the leading causes of death in the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 300-500 million cases of malaria with over one million deaths each year worldwide. Most malaria cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. However, Asia, Latin America, and to a lesser extent the Middle East and parts of Europe are also affected. In India, the maximum people affected by malaria are from Odisha State.
The World Malaria Day, instituted by the WHO in 2007,  is celebrated on April 25. The say’s campaign theme for 2014 is Invest in the future. Defeat malaria. The day is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment to control and eliminate this deadly disease.
Malaria is transmitted exclusively through the bites of anopheles mosquitoes, which mainly breed in stagnant waters. Some mosquitoes breed in small water pockets partially or completely exposed to the sun while others breed in shaded stagnant water. Malaria transmission is more intense in places where the mosquito lifespan is longer (so that the parasite has time to complete its development inside the mosquito). In many places, transmission is seasonal with the peak during and just after the rainy season. Lack of maintenance of the road drainage ditches, drainage water treatment and disposal facilities create problems of silting, slow water flow or stagnant water.
If there are severe storms and excessive rainfall amounts for several days, the ground might not be able to absorb all the water. This leads to development of stagnant water bodies. Another common cause of stagnant water is if the septic systems are filled with too much water, causing the sewage to flow on ground. These types of water are filled with bacteria, creating possible diseases. Areas with a shallow water table are more susceptible to groundwater stagnation due to the lower availability of natural soil drainage. Excessive watering may cause ground or surface water stagnation. People should clean their surrounding environment to clear off stagnant water. During the off flooding period the stagnant water is to be drained off to the nearby water channels. Proper surface and subsurface drainage to remove excess water in a timely manner plays an important role in controlling water-related diseases.
Management of drainage system is presently a challenge for urban authorities in many developing cities because of rapid growth of population and unplanned development activities. Therefore, a close coordination among urban authorities and collaboration between public and private sectors is needed for effective management and sustainable operation of urban drainage system. High-intensity rains can cause urban flooding since urban areas have a lot of concrete structures and there isn’t much open soil available for water to percolate, causing a huge burden on the drainage systems. Several days of flooding allows mosquito larvae breeding and leads to an increase in malaria transmission. Emphasis on drainage development works will have to be undertaken in the severely waterlogged areas to reduce the spreading of diseases.
Floods and waterlogging in the low-lying areas have become common due to unplanned growth. Bhubaneswar’s rapid expansion in all directions makes the city prone to urban flooding. The high rate of urbanisation has led to waterlogging in several areas of the city. It is very crucial to take decisiond while changing land use from agriculture category to residential area. However, as real estate developers and new settlers have started converting agricultural land into residential colonies, the natural channels for water discharge have been blocked.
In Bhubaneswar, the land use change from vegetation to other category was 63.3 per cent and land use change from agriculture to other category was 32.4 per cent in 2000-2005 for residential area which was the highest compared to other category of land uses. This trend is also continuing now. In many cases, people are constructing houses without considering the drainage pattern and they suffer the problem after construction of the buildings. It is very difficult to incorporate drainage plan after construction. In many low-lying areas of Bhubaneswar like Acharya Vihar, Jayadev Vihar, Bhimatangi, Old Town, Jagamohan Nagar, Laxmisagar and Kapilprasad, people are suffering from water stagnation. In many cases, construction over the natural drainage channel blocks the water flow.
Common drainage problems can be avoided if due consideration is given to these issues during planning stage. The time and costs spent trying to address problems before and during the construction stage will normally be less than the costs of mitigating efforts after the works have been completed.
Water collected through a road drainage system needs to be carefully discharged from the road, avoiding any damages to the adjacent low-lying land. Equally, the drainage system of a road needs to be carefully adjusted so it does not conflict with the drainage systems on adjacent neighbourhood land. Besides the proper design of side drains can reduce the drainage problem in the city. The function of the side drains (or ditches) is to collect water from the carriageway and surrounding areas and lead it to an exit point where it can be safely discharged. The absence of side drain also aggravates the problem. The exact dimensions of the side drains are dependent on the expected amount of rainwater and the distance to the next exit point where the water can be diverted from the road. The drainage facilities demand management of drains, which involve the prevention of flooding and illegal encroachments, periodic maintenance and provisions of adequate land for future reconstruction and augmentation activities.
Inadequate provision for drainage can increase the risk of malaria. Almost one-tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by improving water supply, sanitation, hygiene and management of water resources. Such improvements reduce child mortality and improve health in a sustainable way.Malaria can create a huge economic burden for a country. This is due to the number of hospital admissions and the cost of national malaria control programmes. In this context, innovative financing would play an important role. Investments in malaria prevention have been among the best investments in global health facility, resulting in a dramatic decrease in malarial deaths and illness.
Finally, urban planning which is done keeping community needs in mind would go a long way in checking the spread of malaria by participatory planning for better preparedness for potential urban water supply, proper waste disposal and elimination of stagnant water bodies.There is a need to improve waste water treatment, management and modifications to the drainage system in every city. Besides, public awareness and community participation play an important role in the planning process. A variety of diseases can be prevented by improving the provision of water and sanitation and implementing proper drainage and control of disease vectors.

Green Vision for City Planning


The annual International Mother Earth Day was observed on April 22 to demonstrate and support for environmental protection.
Urban areas are now home to 50 per cent of the world’s population, but they account for 60-80 per cent of energy consumption and 75 per cent of carbon emissions. Rapid urbanisation is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment and public health.  In many cases, urbanisation is characterised by urban sprawl and haphazard development of periphery of the town which is not only socially divisive but increases energy demand, carbon emissions and puts pressure on ecosystems.
The Earth Day 2014 focussed on the global theme Green Cities. This would encourage people to create a sustainable, healthy environment by greening communities worldwide. As the urban population grows and the effects of climate change worsen, our city planning has to change.
Green vision for city planning includes three key elements: buildings, energy and transportation. A green city derives its energy from renewable sources like solar and wind and distributes it through efficient micro grids. A green city is made up of buildings that are energy-efficient, conserve water and reduce waste. Compact, relatively densely populated cities with mixed-use urban form are more resource-efficient than any other settlement pattern with similar levels of economic output. Urban infrastructure including streets, water and sewage systems come at considerably lower costs per unit as urban density rises.
Besides, a city that preserves and maximises its open spaces, natural landscapes and recreational opportunities is more healthy and resilient. Many cities have been designed with green space-oriented community development strategy at both national and local levels. Greenways may be designed as a planning strategy. These are networks of land containing linear element that are planned, designed and managed for multi purposes including ecological, recreational, cultural or other purposes compatible with the concept of sustainable land use.
Bhubaneswar was a city with pleasant climatic condition throughout the year. Since last decade, this city is experiencing high population growth, urbanisation and distinct weather condition. Earlier, it had a sound coverage of greenery, but now it has decreased substantially, leading to uncomfortable conditions. Modification of the land surface by urban development and reduction of open space is another reason for the unusual mercurial rise in Bhubaneswar in summer. Small water bodies and wetlands are increasingly being filled up by multistoried buildings.
The level of pollution has also increased due to the increasing traffic and decrease in foliage. The expansion of the city and lots of concrete structures are also the reason for its microclimatic change over the years. Bhubaneswar contained a 54-per cent forest area in 1930, which is now a mere 3 per cent, mostly shrubs only. As per the CDP-2008, the Bhubaneswar Development Plan Area (BDPA) contains only 19.07 per cent of forest area.
To develop green vision, green corridors can be designed properly in Bhubaneswar. The entire BDPA is gifted with tremendous natural resources in the form of rivers like Kuakhai, Bhargavi and Daya as well as areas with dense vegetation/forest such as Bharatpur forest area and Nandankanan Wildlife Sanctuary. In the CDP, the entire river belt zone has been proposed for recreational land use with green buffers running all along the river embankment, thereby forming a continuous ‘Green Corridor’ on the eastern side of the BDPA. Secondly, entire Bharatpur is a green zone with its forest area and the Nandankanan sanctuary placed sequentially along the main access. It is also forming the Green Corridor on the western side of the BDPA. These open areas must be developed as organised green and suitably landscaped. It is also advisable to have greening of the entire townships.
It is better to think of the open spaces of a city as a multifaceted matrix, performing a variety of functions and having a variety of uses. By this, cities can maintain green space within and throughout their urban and suburban centres, including trees and green space for recreation, cooling, stormwater management and simple aesthetic enhancement and livability. A number of cities are developing this idea of Green Corridor as a tool both for the protection of biodiversity and to provide a sense of continuity between town and the region.
Avenues of trees in the streets, public urban parks and conservation of green areas within private plots can all contribute to improving conditions in the urban area. Scattered green space within the compactly built up area may act as a continuous patch of green, widening at the edge of the city into the green belt and then into a rural landscape, establishing a coherent relationship between urban and rural areas. Such designs encourage healthy lifestyles with the ability to serve many daily needs by walking or cycling. This development patterns can also help keep a community economically vibrant.
People who live close to green space are more resistant to stress, have lower incidence of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression and have a higher measure of confidence. Green space also stimulates social interactions between people.
As the concept of a green city is still new, their development faces many challenges. The large majority of green cities are still at the planning stage. Although there are many new ideas and agenda for green city planning, a few of them have been implemented to generate broad conclusions.
Many buildings are designed in the city without considering climatic conditions of the area. These buildings need air-conditioning to keep them cool. As an alternative, architects should keep climatic conditions in mind and design building that would cut down on energy consumption. More emphasis should be given on factors like ensuring maximum natural light and ventilation.
Green buildings have minimal adverse impacts on the natural environment and are designed to minimise the environmental impact of materials, construction and operation. They also seek to maximise opportunities for indoor environmental quality and performance, saving money, reducing waste, increasing worker productivity and creating healthier environment for people to live and work.
It has become paramount that an assembly of green buildings alone will not be the only deciding factor in green city developments. Many green innovations can be comprehensively integrated into statutory urban planning and development control systems, including planning standards and building regulations. Green building standards have been used in some cities as part of a move towards carbon neutrality. The bylaws and codes need to be revised to integrate aspects of green city and energy conservation building code. These regulations should include a combination of mandatory rules and voluntary guidelines such that minimum energy performance standards should be compulsory for all new buildings with flexibility in the ways to achieve the same.
With the rapid urbanisation and fast depletion of the earth’s resources, we need to rethink about planning our future cities. Planning, development and maintenance of urban green space is among the key elements of sustainable urban development. City planners must have a major role in designing green cities which would be more livable, sustainable and environment-friendly.

Konark temple conservation demands urgent attention


Konark temple conservation demands urgent attention

The World Heritage Day is celebrated on April 18 to educate people about protection, preservation and propagation of world heritage. World heritage refers to those monuments and sites which have shaped, influenced, or represent the most impressive achievements of human societies. World heritage sites are those which illustrate the best of human achievements such as the pyramids of ancient Egypt, The Great Wall of China, Konark temple in Odisha, etc. World heritage is the shared wealth of humankind. Protecting and preserving this valuable asset demands collective efforts of the international community.
The theme of the day for 2014 is Heritage of Commemoration. It provides an opportunity to present those constructions that have been intentionally created with the purpose of commemorating an event, a person, an idea, etc.
The Sun Temple at Konark is a pinnacle of Indian temple architecture and the most magnificent architectural achievement undertaken in India till date. The temple was a technological wonder. The builders had a comprehensive knowledge of astronomy and architecture. The temple was built in by King Narasimhadeva I (AD 1236-1264) of the Ganga dynasty and dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya. Due to its architectural excellence, it has been inscribed as a World
Heritage Monument since November 2, 1984.
The temple was designed as a chariot with 12 huge carved stone wheels and seven stone horses around its base. The horses were conceived in such a way that it gives the impression that the Sun God himself drives this chariot. The temple complex was located in a walled enclosure of about 260m x 160m.The complex consists of Vaishnav Temple (superstructure collapsed), Maya Devi Temple, Sun Temple (superstructure collapsed), Jagamohana (Intact), Aruna Pillar (now in front of Jagannath Temple, Puri),  Natamandapa (superstructure collapsed), kitchen (only basement existing).
Towards the end of the 16th century or early in the 17th, Muslims apparently attacked and damaged the temple complex causing violation of the sanctity of the temple and, thus, it was abandoned as a place of worship. Over the next centuries, the temple was no longer used and maintained and it suffered from structural deterioration, sand drift and robbery and the main temple collapsed. Due to human negligence, the masterpiece of art and sculpture fell into ruins.
That the decay and collapse was gradual is substantiated by A Stirling, who visited the site in 1825 AD. He mentions that the temple still stood, even in 1848; a corner of the Rekha Sikhara remained to a considerable height. The standing corner of the tower was further recorded by James Fergusson in 1837 AD who estimates its height as nearly 45 m and Kittoe in 1838 AD who estimates the height between 24 m and 30 m. This solitary remnant of the main temple also fell in October 1848 due to a strong gale. However, in course of time the main temple collapsed. Rajendra Lal Mita while visiting the temple in 1868 and Hunter in 1870 have recorded eyewitness accounts of the ruins. The former mentions it as only an “enormous mass of stones studded with a few trees here and there”.
The main temple has been estimated to have been 67m height at the beginning. The Jagamohana is the total height of 37m. It is the audience hall where the people assembled for worship. Only the Jagamohana or Mukhasala stands today.
The temple is indeed the only one of its kind. The huge granite blocks were extremely polished and plain.  The blocks were separated by iron plates. The entire structure was held together by several magnets. It is believed that the idol of Sun God was kept suspended in the air by the force of the magnets. The idol had a diamond which reflected sunrays. The magnet at the temple’s top was the main force holding most of the structure. This was so powerful that it used to disrupt the magnetic compass of the ships going through that route as Konark was a major port at that time.
During the British rule, steps were taken to conserve the remaining part of the temple. Towards the end of the 19th century, proposals were made for undertaking certain repairs, but significant work did not get underway until 1903. In 1903, the Jagamohana was sealed after filling the interior with sand, after observing certain structural deficiency in it, to avoid possible collapse. However neither a clear record of the condition of the inside of the monument prior to 1903 nor the actual reason for filling the interior of Jagamohana with sand is available.
In 1950, the Government of India appointed an expert committee on conservation, engineering, art, architecture, geology and chemistry to suggest measures for conservation. The southern and eastern gateways were thoroughly conserved by restoring the missing stones and replacing the damaged courses by new ones. Extensive chemical cleaning and preservation of the facade of the temple was also undertaken.
There are many speculations about the cause of the fall of the temple. Legends describe a loadstone on the temple top. The loadstone disturbed ship compass so that they did not function correctly. To save their shipping, the Portuguese voyagers took away the loadstone, which was acting as the central stone and keeping all the stones and the iron columns and walls of the temple in balance. Due to its displacement, the temple walls lost their balance and, eventually, fell. But there is no record of this occurrence in any historical records, nor is there any record of the existence of such a powerful loadstone at the temple. The exact date and reason for the fall of the monument are still in mystery.
 Though in a dilapidated condition, the temple’s charm still attracts visitors from far and wide throughout the year. The remaining structure and the ruins around still profoundly testify the boundless creativity of the Odishan artists and their contributions to the treasury of Indian art and building techniques.
The Sun Temple is protected under the National Framework of India by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958. Other relevant legislations include the Forest Act, Konark Development Act and Notified Council Area Act. Under the AMASR Act, a zone of 100 metres outside the property and a further zone of 200 metres outside it constitute, respectively, prohibited and regulated zones for development or other similar activity that may have adverse effects on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. All conservation programmes are undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India.
There are five management-related plans: safety, environment, master planning, environmental development and tourism. World Heritage funding was received to carry out an assessment of structural stability.
The Jagamohana, which was sealed, is at risk due to lateral thrusts on the structural walls. The conservation of the remaining part of the temple will be a challenge after removal of sand. Research works are on in respect of removal of sand from the Jagamohana.
Over the years, it has been observed that the sand level has gone down by nearly 15 feet. This indicates that the top portion has become vacant. Therefore, many questions arise for the conservation of the World Heritage, Konark. If sand removal is possible, people can see the Jagamohana’s interior condition.  However, there is a need to study its possible impact on the structure. The Konark temple’s world cultural heritage status certainly demands that the structure be given immediate attention.

Bhubaneswar to become World Heritage City


The 66th Foundation day of Bhubaneswar will be celebrated on April 13 (Sunday). It was on this day in 1948 that the first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had laid the State capital city’s foundation-stone. Since then, Bhubaneswar remains a celebrated model of modern architecture and city planning with the prehistoric past as a Temple City. Punjab capital Chandigarh was also designed in the same era of the post-Independent India.
While laying the foundation-stone, Nehru had observed that Bhubaneswar “Would not be a city of big buildings for officers and rich men without relation to common masses. It would accord with an idea of reducing differences between the rich and poor. The New Capital would embody the beautiful art of Odisha, and it would be a place for beauty… that life might become an adjunct to beauty”.
Chandigarh was planned by French architect Le Corbusier and Bhubaneswar by German architect Dr Otto Koenigsberger. Le Corbusier’s architectural work in Chandigarh is in the process to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List by the UNESCO. In 2006-07, Chandigarh came up on the tentative list, but in 2010 the decision on it was deferred. However, there is every possibility that Chandigarh is going to be declared as a World Heritage City in near future.
But no proposal has been submitted to the UNESCO to enlist Bhubaneswar in this list though it has more potential than Chandigarh to qualify for the recognition. Bhubaneswar has its identity as a temple town with a series of ancient sandstone temples varying in size from the towering eleventh century Lingaraja Temple, 55-metre high. A large number of
Grade-I temples of national importance at Old Bhubaneswar have been protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), examples being Ananta Basudeva, Mukteswara, Persurameswara and Rajarani Temples. With this backdrop of ancient temples of Old Bhubaneswar, a new capital has taken shape.
The city has a prehistoric past. Physically, the plan of Old Bhubaneswar is based on the ‘Asta Ayatana’ concept, which stands for eight sacred complexes as described in the sacred chronicles like Ekamra Purana and comprises 54 monuments. Even today, there is a ritual connection of Lingaraja with the temples in Asta Ayatana. This forms the genesis of the order and coherence of physical and socio-religious development of Old Bhubaneswar. The area has been declared as a Special Heritage Zone as Ekamra Kshetra.
The Dhauli Hill is a Buddhist tourist destination with ancient sculptures and the extraordinary art forms. The area has been declared as a Special Heritage Zone as Sanskritik Kshetra. Sisupalagarh was the ancient citadel of capital of Kalinga till 4th century AD. The city was systematically planned with well built houses of laterite or brick laid out in orderly streets in a grid pattern. The area has been declared as a Special Heritage Zone as Aitihasik Kshetra.
The Udayagiri and Khandagiri Hills represent one of the earliest groups of Jain rock-cut architecture built around 2nd century BC. Archaeologically significant of the Pali records engraved in the Hathi Gumpha, displays the 13 year megalithic record of king Kharavela of the Chedi dynasty.
The unique combination of built, natural and cultural heritage resources with Otto Koenigsberger’s Master Plan with neighbourhood units and climate responsive buildings by Architect Julius Vaz demand the city to be listed in the World Heritage List. According to Koenigsberger’s guidelines, most government buildings have been designed with impressive corridors, which were also intended to protect the walls of office rooms from direct sunrays.
Neighbourhood units were designed by Koenigsberger with the best amenities of urban life, with units placed at short distances to give people easy access to school, hospital and other facilities. The buildings designed by Julius Vaz and the Master Plan by Koenigsberger are outstanding examples of architectural design and town planning.
 Besides, the State Museum in Bhubaneswar holds a huge collection of artifacts and crafts, including the world’s largest collection of palm-leaf manuscripts. The city’s Tribal Museum is a testament to the lifestyles, arts and crafts of Odisha’s tribal heritage encompassing over 60 different tribes.
To be included in the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of the ten selection criteria. There are more than 100 cities in the world declared as World Heritage Cities. In Asia, there are four in Japan, three in China but none in India. The UNESCO confers the heritage status when the heritage sites/cities are nominated by nations along with data, maps and photographs.
Bhubaneswar fulfils four criteria: to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius; to exhibit an important interchange of human values over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design; to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilisation which is living or which has disappeared; and to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions with ideas or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.
If declared a world heritage, Bhubaneswar can maintain its identity for future generations. Top UNESCO official during their visit to Odisha assured that they would consider the State’s recommendation to include Bhubaneswar in the World Heritage List. If Bhubaneswar qualifies for it, it would become the second Indian city to be included in the tentative list after Chandigarh. The preparation of the list is not random selection of places, but it is a tedious exercise involving detailed study of history, architecture and heritage of places for its uniqueness/values before deciding on its selection. 
If Bhubaneswar is declared as a World Heritage city, it will have more benefits. The World Heritage Status, first of all, is the highest honour and the most prestigious title given to heritage monuments, sites, cities, etc., in recognition of their historic/architectural significance, not just at the local/national levels but at an international level for having heritage of outstanding universal value.  The title gives a tremendous impetus to international tourism and also opens up avenues of funding for comprehensive development of the city. The status makes preservation and maintenance of heritage mandatory, thus facilitating to uphold the city’s cultural identity. 
Submitting a proposal does not guarantee the world heritage status. Lots of works need to be done by the State Government and conservation NGOs to get the status for Bhubaneswar. Besides, public awareness and community participation are also vital to make the proposal successful.

Vector-borne diseases in Slums


The World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948. The day’s theme for 2014 is ‘Prevention and Control of Vector-Borne Disease in Informal Settlements’. So, the day this year highlights some of the most commonly known vectors responsible for transmitting a wide range of parasites and pathogens that attack humans or animals. Mosquitoes, for example, not only transmit malaria and dengue but also lymphatic filariasis, chikungunya and yellow fever.
Vectors are organisms that transmit pathogens and parasites from one infected person to another. They are most commonly found in tropical areas and places where access to safe drinking water and sanitation systems is problematic.
Over 60 per cent of water and vector-borne diseases in urban areas are reported from slum clusters due to lack of basic amenities. These settlements are the areas where groups of housing units have been constructed on land that the occupants have no legal claim to, or occupy illegally. These are the areas where housing is not in compliance with planning and building regulations. The reasons for informal settlements vary from place to place, but the most critical factors are lack of affordable legal options, poverty and intense demand for housing.
Slums and homeless people’s number are growing day by day in all urban centres. India has a very high percentage of urban households living in informal settlements. In Census 2011, slum blocks have been delineated in all towns irrespective of population size. Out of the 4,041 Statutory Towns in Census 2011, slums were reported from 2,543 (63%). The total slum enumeration blocks (SEBs) is about 1.08 lakh in the country. The top five States reporting slum households are Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal. The proportion of slum households (HHs) to urban HHs is 35.7% in Andhra Pradesh and 23.1% in Odisha. Most slum households have no access to any waste collection and suffer from insufficient drinking water.  
Bhubaneswar, one of the fast-growing India cities, has lost its earlier planned status due to massive growth of slum population and the increased informal sector activities in the recent years. This sector of Bhubaneswar is dominated by migrant workers. The building activity over a long period needed the service of thousands of unskilled, semiskilled and skilled workers, who came from all over Odisha and other States during the entire construction period. These workers, along with those working in the service sector, rickshaw-pullers and small vendors built their temporary houses in vacant private and Government lands. In the process, slums appeared at many places. The migrant labourers of Bhubaneswar usually settle in various slums to earn their livelihoods in different activities.
The Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) has classified the slum settlements into slum colonies belonging to industrial workers, common slums, population squatting on the land belonging to the Railways and other Government agencies. The distribution of slum and squatters inside the city is very much specific location-bound. However in the present context, shifting of slum population is continuously taking place. But this is not a permanent solution for the slum dwellers.
Generally, as population grows, there is an increase in the demand for land by Government, private individuals and corporate bodies. Unfortunately, since the overall physical supply of land within a geographical area is fixed, the demand always outstrips supply by a wide margin. In the market, the corporate bodies and rich individuals with higher bargaining power dominate the transaction while slum dwellers are left with little choice. This group of individuals occupies the less desirable areas like marshy sites, areas adjacent to refuse dumps and encroaches on Government lands. This settlement is characterised by infrastructure deficiencies, shanty structures, poor sanitation, urban violence and crime.
The lack of access to adequate water and sanitation remains the major concerns in slums. Over 60 per cent of them have inadequate access to sanitation. They lack either an individual toilet or a shared toilet. They are forced to depend on badly maintained and overcrowded toilet blocks. Open spaces are thus the only option.
In Bhubaneswar, there is a need to check mosquito breeding.  The vector-borne diseases can be prevented if mosquito breeding grounds are eliminated. This needs coordinated policies and actions related to slum-upgrading. First, the growth of slums needs to be slowed down and eventually stopped through legal and land market reform planning, zoning regulations and building codes to make housing more affordable. Second, there is s need to adopt preventive strategies.
The National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) is the programme for prevention and control of the vector-borne diseases as an integral part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The NVBDCP envisages a self-sustained and well-informed, healthy India free from vector-borne diseases with equitable access to quality healthcare.
The Government of India initiated the National Slum Development Programme. To enable the slim people to gain access to basic services like potable water, sanitation, health and educational facilities, a number of schemes have been launched from time to time. This development programme can prevent vector-borne diseases in many slum settlements.
Many organisations and volunteers spend huge amounts of time and money for remedial measures, but still we see more people coming to the slum. Therefore, a Strategic Construction Plan and Grid must be implemented to ensure that the project is completed on a timeline for slum dwellers’ benefit. There is a need to reserve lands in every urban development project for undertaking EWS and LIG housing as also re-housing sites for slum dwellers. This would enable continuous supply of land for housing of slum dwellers.
The slum dwellers, an integral part of the city, have a share in the growth, status and prosperity of the city. They have not willingly chosen their shanty structures and unhygienic environment but have been driven to this option as they were thrown out of the formal housing sector. Slum is a social problem. It may cause deterrent to future planning and growth of the city. It is imperative to enhance the standard of living of slum dwellers with authorised dwelling units.
A slum-free city plan should be prepared for all areas and strategies need to be developed for prevention of future slums, including reservation of land and housing for the urban poor. This will improve slum dwellers’ living conditions and prevent vector-borne diseases in cities.

Friendly houses for Autistics


One in every 150 people in the world is autistic. This number is a very rough estimate as Autism is a disease with a wide spectrum of symptoms and disorders, ranging from a fully functional adult with slight autistic tendencies or minor learning disorders to individuals who have the most severe form of syndrome. Autism is a complicated disorder that affects communication and the senses. For autistic people, the effects of complexity are much greater; they are unable to discern separate noises, shapes, etc, easily; this can lead to tension.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterised, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive patterns of behaviour.
Many autistic people have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. To improve the lives of those who suffer from the ASD, the United Nation’s World Autism Awareness Day is observed on April 2. In 2008, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force, reaffirming the fundamental principle of universal human rights for all. This covers many issues, including employment, recreation, religion, education and accessibility to public services.
Of all needs, housing is the most important for autistic people. In this context, architects have a great role in designing autism-friendly housing. Architects employ their imagination to build functional and usable built space. Le Corbusier (October 6, 1887 — August 27, 1965), an architect, designer, writer and pioneer of modern architecture wrote, “You employ stone, wood, and concrete, and with these materials you build houses and palaces: that is construction. Ingenuity is at work. But suddenly, you touch my heart, you do me good. I am happy and I say: This is beautiful. That is architecture.” The meaning attributed to a certain physical environment depends to a large extent on the personal interpretation people attach to this environment, influenced by their personal interests.
Both the characteristic behaviour and the particular way of sense-making of people with autism influence their spatial experience and interaction with the physical environment. The homes and neighborhoods where adults with ASDs live may significantly impact the quality of their lives. Yet many housing providers, developers and architects are unfamiliar with how residential design factors and neighbourhood amenities affect these residents’ wellbeing. Issues to consider include access to amenities and transportation and the potential for residents to be integrated into existing community.
Architecture design for autism seeks to develop environments that accommodate the needs of autistic individuals. Despite prevalence of autism, there are currently no standards for an architectural design specific to the autistic people’s needs. When people think of treatments for autistic disorders, they may think about behavioural interventions, biomedical treatments and play therapies. Rarely do they think about building structures that accommodate the needs of these people. Architecture design for autism addresses sensory needs as it develops an environment that is sensitive to the symptoms.
Developing standard guidelines for creating autistic-friendly environments rely greatly on research. The dynamic between an autistic person’s behaviour and the physical environment is a primary concern. If a building is planned in a simple manner, the user will require little effort to use and enjoy the building. A clear layout and organisation of spaces can help a person use the building without confusion as to the location of rooms. The basic design considerations should focus on safety and security.
A major characteristic of autism is difficulty with transitions. For those leaving homes they have lived in for many years, moving into a new residence and neighbourhood can be a very disorienting experience. Autistic adults can become confused and frightened with changes in place and organisation. Creating continuity and connection with the past facilitates the transition. The design of homes and support services should all work to maximise the orientation of these adults to their physical and social environment, assisting them in “knowing where they are”. If improvements are needed in an occupied building, measures need to be taken to make it autism-friendly.
Autism affects girls and boys of geographic regions. The prevalence is currently rising in many countries. Caring for and educating children and young people with this condition places challenges on autism-friendly housing, healthcare and education.
Providing a right environment for autistic people is not only desirable but surely their right. Environments designed and created especially for people with the ASD have a beneficial impact not only on the children but also on those who care for them.