Safe Neighbourhood Design to prevent Crimes


Every day, newspapers and televisions remind us of the problems of uncontrolled street crimes where no individual is safe and where women are more vulnerable. Women and adolescent girls face harassment and violence as they go about their daily routines, whether on city streets, in buses and trains or in their own neighbourhoods. As many as 35 per cent of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries.
To raise awareness and trigger action to end this scourge, the UN observes International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25. This year, the United Nations’ Campaign UNITE to End Violence against Women invites everybody to “Orange their Neighbourhood”, take the UNITE campaign to local streets, shops and businesses, and organise “Orange Events” in their neighbourhoods.  The initiative is aimed to create the symbolic image of a world free from violence against women. The colour orange aims at uniting the theme which runs through all events as one of the official colours of the UNITE campaign, and as a bright and optimistic colour, representative of a world free from violence against women and girls.
Built-environment has a critical role in crime control. Special design features in city planning, neighbourhoods and individual buildings can reduce criminal activity. Crime prevention through physical design is an urban planning and design consideration which integrates crime prevention with neighbourhood design and urban development. Essentially, it is a comprehensive design approach that combines different   techniques of crime prevention with existing and newly developed theories and techniques. This will not only prevent the crime but also reduce the fear of crime.
A neighbourhood is a geographically localised community. The neighbourhood is the scale at which communal standards of behaviour are first formed. In general, it is the natural extension of individual and family territoriality that begins at home. If crime cannot be controlled at the neighbourhood, it will spread to the entire city. Every city has its intimate inner patterns: the streets, squares and important landmarks. Besides, urban transformation is a habitual process in the evolution of cities. The changes in social and economic processes always involve an almost urban need to update or modernise or simply transform cities.
Perry’s name is most commonly associated with the notion of the neighbourhood design. He described the Neighbourhood unit as that populated area which would require and support an elementary school with an enrolment of between 1,000 and 1,200 pupils. This would mean a population of between 5,000 and 6,000. Developed as a low density dwelling unit with a population of 10 families per acre, the Neighbourhood unit would occupy around 160 acres and have a shape which would render it necessary for any child to walk a distance of not more than one-quarter mile to school. Those sections or neighbourhoods have some particular physical or social characteristics that distinguish them from the rest of the settlement. The clustering of these neighbourhoods has formed towns, villages and cities. The Neighbourhood unit has formed the basis of planning of most of the first planned new towns in India like Chandigarh, Bhubaneswar and Gandhinagar.
In many areas, multi-family housing consumes the remaining open space and there are increasing competition for neighbourhood spaces and public services as the population increases. These changes drew people from larger geographic areas and led to uncontrolled use of and movement through their neighbourhood. Where the neighbourhood was once primarily residential in character, other land uses competed for limited services such as streets, parks, shops, etc. This, in turn, contributed to an eventual breakdown of the semi-private nature of the neighbourhood. The new uses provided the reason and encouragement for potential offenders to come and commit crimes. Individual competition, together with land use competition and the unlimited flow of strangers, contributed to the breakdown of the residents’ ability to distinguish between neighbour and nonresident. This provided a setting for increased crimes. In response to these increasing crimes and individual environmental competition, the resident began to feel isolated and afraid.
The need of safety is an important aspect of city planning. However, crime and fear of crime can affect the way a city works as well the attractiveness and functioning of some urban areas. When people feel threatened, they alter their lifestyle and, consequently, the ways they use the city on a daily basis. Many do not go out in the evening, do not use public transport, do not use public spaces and shut themselves in gated communities.
A complex range of factors contribute to insecurity in the city. It also depends on the way in which cities are planned, designed and built; the way in which people identify themselves with the environment which they live in, and the way in which urban spaces are looked after and managed. The layout and organisation of urban spaces influence their level of security: they can contribute to making them safer, but they can also contribute to making them more dangerous. A good or bad layout can contribute to making a city more or less safe.
The layout of a new development should allow it to be walked through safely day and night by creating clear routes provided with natural surveillance. The layout should have a clear organisation and provide easy orientation for all users.
Using zoning laws to shape the type of development and activity that occur in a neighbourhood may be one way to reduce crime. There is a need to execute more research on the relationship between land-use law, the built environment and crime, particularly in high-crime areas.  Architects and urban designers should do environmental mapping of space for users to know how the users will accept the new spaces they design. The basic principles of good governance must find a direct application in any urban safety strategy, aimed at reducing and preventing common problems of crime and insecurity. Besides, a proper management of city streets and public spaces can ensure a safe neighbourhood for women.

Bio-Toilet for Eco-friendly sanitation


An international body, particularly the World Toilet Organisation, has promoted World Toilet Day for years.
In 2013, the UN officially recognised November 19 as the World Toilet Day in a bid to make sanitation for all. The 2014 World Toilet Day campaign will draw attention to dignity and equality issues, especially inspiring action to end open defecation.
According to the Unicef and WHO estimates, one-seventh of the world population still openly defecate due to lack of proper toilet facilities. Of these, 60 per cent live in India.
On a global scale, it is estimated that yearly 10 million children die under the age of five due to improper sanitation.
Of these, 2.4 million children belong to India. The provision of proper toilets could save the lives of more than two lakh children in the world, according to the UN.
The countries where open defecation is most widely practised are the same with the highest numbers of under-five child deaths, poverty, and large wealth disparities.
Mahatma Gandhi emphasised the importance of toilets in the pre-Independent India and said it to be more important than attaining Independence. But after 66 years of Independence, nearly half of India’s populations have no toilet at home, coupled with very low use of existing toilets in urban and rural areas.
According to the 2011 Census, 53.1% (63.6% in 2001) of Indian households do not have a toilet, with the percentage being as high as 69.3% (78.1% in 2001) in rural areas and 18.6% (26.3% in 2001) in urban areas.
In India, Jharkhand tops the list of the States with as high as 77% of homes having no toilet while the figures are 76.6% for Odisha and 75.8% in Bihar. A detailed exercise is also being conducted to identify the shortcomings of the existing sanitation and drinking water efforts and incorporate them into the 12th Five-Year Plan.
However, open defecation continues to be a big concern for people. Cultural and traditional reasons and lack of education are the prime reasons for this unhygienic practice.
According to the “Status of Elementary and Secondary Education in Odisha-2012”, a report recently prepared by the Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA), of the total 53,193 elementary schools (up to Class-VIII), 12,588 have no toilets. However, to improve the sanitary conditions in schools, The Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) had contracted 1,021 bio-toilets across the country including 375 in Odisha under the Swachchh Bharat Swachchh Vidyalaya scheme.
Maintaining toilets in a hygienic condition has emerged as a major problem in schools across Odisha. The non-availability of piped water supply in schools is a great cause of concern to maintain cleanness of the toilet.
Almost none of the rural schools are supplied with running water. Some in urban pockets do have regular water supply. Water for flushing toilets still has to be carried by hand. So, on an average, every time a toilet is used, water has to be lugged in buckets and  mugs from hand pumps located at a distances of 50 to 100 metres away.
Access to water supply and drainage facilities is also another problem. The situation is even worse in the areas which are drought-prone or face perennial water shortage such as Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha.
Under these circumstances, it is not possible to maintain water-flush toilets in those areas. In many areas toilets have been constructed and not being used due to lack of water supply. India has been constructing 1.5 million toilets a year under its Total Sanitation Campaign. However, 50% of them remain unused. Besides, manual scavenging is still widespread in India.
As per the 2011 Census, there were 7.94 lakh latrines in the country from which night soil was removed by humans. A number of households in both the urban and rural areas continue to rely even today on this practice.
In the slums of Bhubaneswar, almost 40% to 50% of households use either public toilets or communal toilets, which serve a fixed residential population.
However, the conditions of these facilities are very poor. More than 50% of these toilets are either “dirty” or “very dirty” and are completely nonfunctional. Households who are dissatisfied with the cleanliness of their community’s toilets were more likely to practise open defecation.
In the case of water scaricy in some regions, bio-toilets can be used. In the case of improved bio-toilet setup, existing traditional toilet can be improved so that it may not require continuous water supply. Proper design of the bio-toilet implies that the system fulfils criteria such as safety, functionality, economy, and social and environmental affordability. So, the bio-toilet must be designed to accelerate decomposition of human excreta, optimise efficiency and minimise any potential environmental or nuisance problems (odour).
In bio-toilet, there are some innovative technologies for disposal of human waste in an eco-friendly manner. This bio-toilet, called bio-digester, is affordable and nature-friendly.
In areas where water is scarce and plumbing doesn’t exist, bio-toilets may be used. Bio-toilet uses a dry toilet technology, which reduces the demand for water. The bio-toilet includes a natural exhausting process so that the digester system never fills up to overflow. The waste collected in the digester is processed using anaerobic digestion to make organic manure.
As the waste biodegrades, the digester captures methane gas, which is used for lighting and cooking. It can be connected to the toilet or a series of toilets. Toilet can be a superstructure fixed on the bio-digester or a separate unit. Bio-digester has an inlet, an outlet and a gas pipe. It is the device in form of a container made of mild steel/ concrete/ plastic, etc.
The main advantages are the toilets do not smell when properly maintained.The toilets do not pollute the environment or groundwater. They are cheaper to build compared to septic systems. Once a toilet is separated from the water use system, recycling household water becomes a much simpler process.
A significant usefulness of the technology is very low water requirement. It is only to the extent to clean the toilet and personal washing. With the persistent water scarcity in various locations, less use of water is always desirable.
The cleaning of toilet is also possible with comparatively lesser quantity of water as
P-trap is avoidable since water seal has been provided in the main tank. This technology reduces residential water use, thus cutting water bills and lowering the energy needed to pump and purify water.
Bio-toilets can be used in railway coaches, highways, rural areas, households, airports, industrial areas, educational institutions, pilgrimage sites and slums.
Bio-toilet is a complete solid waste management solution and certified by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It is 100% sludge-free disposal of human waste. The toilet decomposes solid waste to water and biogas. It is 100% maintenance-free.
A number of factors have been found to play an important role in determining toilet use. Sticking to toilet-using habit depends on construction aspects like a well-maintained, user-friendly structure that protects privacy, water availability and awareness about the benefits of good sanitation. Experiences on the use of public toilets in urban areas have also identified that a number of factors lead to poor use of toilets. These include lack of water supply and adequate systematically designed sewage systems.
The Prime Minister has already declared a Swachchh Bharat Abhiyaan, and by 2019 India should become Swachchh Bharat. To achieve this, it is imperative to provide toilet to each household.
In many areas, there are existing toilets, but people are not using it because of water scarcity and maintenance. In the areas where water is not sufficiently available, bio-toilet is a suitable solution.
Sanitation in India is a State subject. State-level steering committees and urban departments play the role of guidance and support to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) which are responsible for final implementation of sanitation at the local level.
The ULBs are mandated to undertake planning, design, implementation, operation and maintenance of water supply and sanitation services in towns. Besides, public participation and an inclusive approach to sanitation are essential to ensure better ecofriendly sanitation for all.

Climate change: Challenge to Urban Planning


The World Town Planning Day (WTPD) is an event held on November 8 in 30 countries including India to recognise and promote the role of planning in creating livable communities.
An international organisation for the WTPD was founded in 1949 by the late Professor Carlos Maria della Paolera of the University of Buenos Aires. The main motivations to plan a WTPD event are to educate all of members of the community about town planning’s positive impacts on community livability.
The city has a long history and has been the major source of human culture, innovation and democratic rights. The key is to build on its essential characteristics and make them relevant for today. The possibility of a continuation of present trends of unsustainable economic growth, increased social fragmentation and environmental degradation is neither an acceptable nor sustainable option.
Cities should be places where the interaction and participation of citizens help them meet their needs and aspirations, and those of the wider community, as well as allowing future generations to meet their needs.
As a result of population growth, urbanisation and mass migration of rural people to cities, urban sprawl occurs and cities are fast becoming overcrowded. The cities that man builds profoundly affect climate in the short run and almost certainly will produce significant long-term climatic effects as well. The result is that these climatic changes can make life unpleasant and make at least some cities at some time nearly uninhabitable.
Human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases lead the earth’s atmosphere to capture and retain more heat from the Sun. The global temperature record shows an average warming of about 1.10F over the past century. Global warming is now one of the most important environmental issues. Predictions by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that unless action is taken to control greenhouse gas emissions, rapid climate change process could occur posing unprecedented challenges to global ecosystems and human societies.
India is both a major green house gas emitter and one of the most vulnerable countries to projected climate change. The country is already experiencing changes in climate including water stress, heat waves and drought, severe storms and flooding and associated negative consequences on health and livelihoods. Odisha is also most vulnerable to climate change. It has a 480-km coastline which is subject to cyclone and storm surge.
Building resilience and adapting to climate change is increasingly a high priority for cities. It will be critical to develop appropriate mitigation and adaptation responses to reduce the impacts of climate change. There is a need to integrate town and regional planning, climate change mitigation and adaptation and emergency management for sustainable human settlement planning.
Development of new towns or development of existing urban places requires a careful study of climatic condition of the region. Use of green areas is a major planning technique by which town planners can prevent or reduce adverse effects of climate. Green areas help prevent flooding by reducing the rate of runoff.
It is highly needed to implement building codes to take into account of changing climatic conditions and introduce more consistent town and regional planning measures for human settlement and individual building design.
The Government of India has prepared a National Action Plan for Climate Change. The mitigation measures would primarily include energy efficiency in buildings, improved urban land use planning and shift to public transport and management of water, waste water and solid wastes. Besides, the action plan would also facilitate adaptation to vulnerabilities arising out of climate change.
Odisha is a leader in formulating a State Climate Change Action Plan identifying urban planning and water resources, coastal zones and disasters, etc.
Transforming our major cities for climate change is a challenge that will take five to 10 years or more to implement. A range of measures have already been identified, including revising, renewing and enforcing building codes to take account of changing climate, introducing more consistent planning measures for town and regional planning, building designs and managing urban growth in climate-sensitive areas through zoning and regulation.
Besides, cities are dynamic systems that face unique climate impacts, their adaptation must be location specific. Zoning is a regulatory tool widely used by development authotities to control land use. It is a key tool for implementing the goals and objectives in a development authority’s official plan.
Zoning bylaws divide the entire community into zones. For each zone, only certain land uses are permitted (for example, commercial, residential, industrial, etc). In addition to restrictions on the use of the property, the zoning bylaws may impose requirements on buildings, including maximum height, lot coverage and density as well as building type and setbacks. Zoning codes can be used to limit new development in hazard-prone areas or to prescribe building standards that reduce vulnerability to environmental stress.
It is important to keep in mind that land use planning is used to pursue many local policy objectives, including providing affordable housing, stimulating job growth, preserving the character and heritage of a community, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enabling efficient transportation.
The design of a community’s physical components, such as parking lots, parks and roadways, drainage ditches or a neighbourhood as a whole can reduce or magnify the impacts of climate change at the local scale. It is imperative to emphasise specific fields of town planning which hold enormous potentials to successfully promote new planning strategies and concepts facing mitigation and adaptation of climate change in urban areas.
These include urban renewal and new means of climate protection and sustaining urban ecosystem services as contributions to climate protection.
Risk management processes can be used by a community to evaluate risks associated with climate change and suggest adaptation measures. Risk management methodologies can provide a way to explore public attitudes and perceptions of risk, and this information can feed back into the assessment.
The evaluation process may be formal or informal and may be quantitative or qualitative, depending on what works best for the development authority. Several climate change-specific risk assessment tools have been developed to assist planners. Besides, good urban governance is vital to implement town planning policy for sustainable urban development.