BHUBANESWAR ENVIRONMENT DEGRADED BY HUMAN ACTIVITIES
Urban control, bioaesthetic planning needed
Urban development challenges in many countries are multifaceted and appear to be overwhelming at times. They include insufficient provision of infrastructure, rapidly growing slums, urban sprawl and the associated degradation of urban and peri-urban ecosystems. Many of these challenges are aggravated by global phenomena like climate change. Temperatures are rising, rainfall patterns shifting, glaciers and snow melting, and the global mean sea level is rising. We expect that these changes will continue, and that extreme weather events resulting in hazards such as floods and droughts will become more frequent and intense.
The World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated on June 5 to raise awareness about unique development challenges and successes regarding a range of environmental problems, including climate change, waste management, unsustainable consumption, degradation of natural resources and extreme natural disasters.
Urbanisation changes the climate of a place. This initiates a feedback loop that affects inhabitants’ way of life and use of energy resources. For example, the heat island that follows high density urban development accelerates the use of air-conditioning equipment which demands more electricity and contributes to further warming-up of the city environment.
Currently, cities suffer from severe environmental problems ranging from pollution, congestion, excessive waste, etc. Paying attention to the environmental impacts of growth is critical for provision of adequate housing, energy, water, sanitation and mobility needs in a manner that does not cause major depletion of natural resources or endanger future generations.
It is very likely that most of the warming since the mid -20th century is due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations as a result of emissions from human activities. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has recognised the goal to limit the global mean temperature increase. Even if policies and efforts to reduce emissions prove effective, some climate change is inevitable; therefore, strategies and actions to adapt to its impacts are highly needed.
The environment of the city of Bhubaneswar has been degraded due to different human activities. The effects of climate change have been observed since last few years in Bhubaneswar. It has been found to be excessive heat in summer both during day and night .The temperature in summer is ranging in most of the days around 40 degree Celsius, which not only affects the health and comfort of the people but also demands more energy. The number of rainy days has decreased, and the city receives average 1,550 mm of rainfall per year. Most of the rainfall is due to cyclone than monsoon. The groundwater level has decreased by one meter in major areas of the city. In rainy season, if high intensity rainfall occurs for some time, urban flooding is seen in different parts of the city like Acharya Bihar, Shastri Nagar, Old Town, etc. The stagnant water gets polluted and creates environmental hazards.
There are 10 major natural drains running west to east of Bhubaneswar. Some of these finally join the Ganguanallah. The entire city has not been covered with storm water drains. Encroachment of natural drains by construction, dumping of waste material by people making the storm water drains inefficient result in blocking and chocking of drains. These are the reasons of urban flooding in Bhubaneswar.
The different sources of air pollution in Bhubaneswar are small-scale industries, motor vehicles, etc. The Odisha State Pollution Control Board identified 88 industries in Bhubaneswar, out of which 16 are air polluting and 34 are both air and water polluting. Bhubaneswar also suffers air pollution from the domestic front. Though LPG is the most-used fuel in the city, in the slum areas people use firewood, cow dung, kerosene and coal contributing to air pollution. It can be expected that the air quality of the area will move from bad to worse if sufficient precautions are not taken. Besides, the city generates a huge quantity of solid wastes. After collection of the wastes from different wards, they are transported to open dumping yards situated at different places in and around the city. No processing of solid wastes is done before their disposal; hence it degrades the environment.
A detailed air quality analysis of Bhubaneswar is to be done to identify the most polluting and hazardous industrial units. Industries in and around the area are to be advised to instal and operate electrostatic precipitator to control particulate pollutants. Industries should be directed to strictly observe pollution control norms. The city should be equipped with a sufficient number of auto emission testing centres where the petrol and diesel-driven vehicles could be tested and certified. As far as possible, the coal supply for domestic use is to be replaced with LPG. Green belt development and afforestation should be encouraged which may act as sink for air pollutants.
Urban control in Bhubaneswar has to be operated at three levels, the periphery, the Master Plan and architectural control. Bioaesthetic planning is closely connected with town planning. In Bhubaneswar, there are urban forests with different tress, green belt in the periphery, natural drains, rivers and lakes. Due to disorderly cinstructions, many of the drainage channels and water bodies have been blocked. This has to be avoided staggering the sitting of houses in such a manner that the natural drainage channels and water bodies remain intact.
Trees should be carefully chosen with due regard to colours of their flowers, beauty of foliage and shape of crown. In addition to utilitarian and aesthetic aspects, trees in city areas constitute an effective buffer against dust and noise and also act as windbreaks. The trees will not only modify the climate but also enhance their architectural appeal by presenting a foil of texture, colour and form by way of contrasts. Footpaths, which are provided at the sides for pedestrians, have to be shaded by rows of trees. For pedestrians, a multiple row of trees with very heavy deciduous foliage is required. In summer, the trees would provide shade and in winter the deciduous trees will permit the sun’s rays to pass.
The areas vulnerable to annual flooding should be earmarked as the catchment’s detention areas. During the off-flooding period, the stagnant water is to be drained off to the nearby water channels with preliminary treatment.
Bhubaneswar’s public transportation system is very weak. Peoples use their own vehicles and depend on auto rickshaws to travel to different parts of the city. A mass transportation system should be introduced which will reduce the fuel consumption and traffic congestion. Dependencies on fossil fuels should be reduced. People should be encouraged to use bicycles, and bicycle tracks should be constructed.
There should not be any dumping yard inside the city for solid waste disposal. The wastes should be disposed in sanitary landfill. The storm water drains should be cleaned regularly. Encroachment of natural drains should also be cleared. Wetlands and water bodies like lakes, ponds should not be encroached, and they should be protected properly. Rainwater harvesting should be encouraged to increase the level of groundwater.
Developing a climate-responsible master plan will prevent the environmental hazards. Master Plans and Comprehensive Development Plans (CDPs) need to incorporate climate change considerations. The plans should contain proper green space for plantation. Components of land-use plan including zoning, FAR, setback, etc., should be implemented effectively for sustainable development.
Sustainability is not only about town planning architectural strategies and building solutions; it is not only about environmental processes and management systems. Sustainability is about the way people live. Everything individuals do in their lives has an impact on the environment. The choices of food, housing, entertainment, work and mobility, all directly or indirectly affect the environment.