International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2017

To raise awareness and trigger action to end violence against women, the UN observes the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25.  The theme for this year is ‘Leave no one behind: End violence against women and girls.’
The fear of violence in public spaces affects the everyday lives of women as it restricts their movement and freedom to exert their right as citizens of the city – freedom to move, study, work, and leisure. Women, particularly those living in low income settlements, feel unsafe in their settlements after dark.  There is no Indian city which provides 100 per cent safe spaces for women in their own neighbourhood and public places.
A total of 34,651 rape cases were reported in India in 2015. As many as 2,251 rape cases were reported in Odisha and Odisha was fifth among the 36 States and Union Territories in the country in terms of the number of rape cases registered in 2015.  Apart from rape, Odisha in 2015 also registered 6,499 cases of assault on women with intent of outraging modesty, 356 dowry death cases, 886 sexual harassment cases, 2,587 cases of kidnapping and abduction of women and 225 cases of stalking as per the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) report.However, the State witnessed a fall in rape cases in 2016 with 2,144 cases. The women and girls in Bhubaneswar are not safe in different public and work places. This has come several times in newspaper headlines and media. In Bhubaneswar Urban Police District, there were 72 rape cases reported in 2014 against 51 in 2013, 56 in 2012 and 35 in 2011.
The number of rape cases in the State capital has also increased in 2015 as compared to 2014. 87 rape cases were registered in Bhubaneswar in 2015 as compared to 72 in 2014. These are the examples of lack of safety initiatives for women and girls in the community. Besides, gender-based violence is present at various levels, beginning with discrimination in education, employment and wages.The State Capital Bhubaneswar leads in the Smart city race. A city cannot be smart and sustainable, if women and girls are not safe and lives in fear of violence.
International cities either have implemented or are experimenting with smart technologies in the areas of intelligent transport management systems and public safety. In February 2015, Bhubaneswar has taken the initiative to install closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at different locations of the city. It is the first of its kind initiative in Odisha and is being utilized as a tool to control crime and enhance traffic movement in Bhubaneswar. But despite the fact women still don’t feel safe as these have been implemented partially in some places, the Smart City Bhubaneswar should be inclusive and equitable. It is important for the policymakers to adopt a gender-inclusive urban plan. Smart City will generate options for all residents to pursue their livelihoods and interests meaningfully. This refers to a city’s ability to create employment opportunities, social sustainability, environmental sustainability, safety and security.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. Over the past decade, many States have introduced laws addressing various forms of violence against women. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 provides protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment. The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution in its Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles.There are also several sections of the Indian Penal Code that deal with sexual harassment. In spite of legal measures, violence against women has not yet completely eliminated.
Planning and designing safe public spaces for women and girls means creating public spaces with urban design features that enhance women’s safety. Urban design is not only about making places look good and aesthetically pleasing, it is also about functionality of the space.Therefore while designing safe public spaces for women, planners, architects and urban designers place special focus on lighting, landscaping, visibility, motorized traffic, pedestrian traffic, urban furniture, signage, proximity to other public spaces, and proximity to emergency services and access to public transportation. If public spaces are dark, abandoned, unclean, or lacking certain elements like emergency phone booths etc., the spaces are potentially unsafe for everybody. Therefore, there is an increased chance that women and girls will not use spaces where they feel fear or experience violence.
Local authorities and city management have a crucial role to play in the prevention of violence against women, both in public and private spaces. A safe city for women and girls is a city where women and girls can enjoy public spaces and public life without fear of being assaulted. Safer Cities Programmes can be organized in different cities which will contribute to a better understanding of gender-based violence on the city level and the development of adequate tools to prevent it. City planning affects the sustainability, accessibility, usability, design and quality of places. Gender-sensitive city planning and design can help to make cities safer for women. These types of planning take into account the practical and strategic needs of women and girls and include women in design, implementation and evaluation of planning projects. Architects, urban designers and planners can take up responsibilities and play a key role in improving the situation of women by designing safe neighbourhood and safe public spaces for women and girls.


World Toilet Day 2017


The World Toilet Day is celebrated on November 19. At the global level, the central role of access to water and sanitation for sustainable development is now fully confirmed with the formal adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by the UN General Assembly. By 2030, the SDGs aim to reach everyone with sanitation, and halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and safe reuse. The theme for 2017 is “wastewater”.
Odisha is among the lowest-performing State in terms of latrine coverage. In 2011, 85 per cent of rural households defecated in the open and latrine coverage increased marginally by seven percentage points between 2001 and 2011, reaching 22 per cent. Those that own a latrine often do not use it regularly. The Government of Odisha has introduced a new Urban Sanitation Policy 2017. This policy defines a clear vision and goal to make all cities and towns in the State totally clean, sanitised and safe managed by ULBs with active citizen and stakeholder participation.There is no sewerage system in most of the towns in Odisha at present. Most of the households discharge the sewage into natural drains and waterways causing serious public health and environmental hazards to the people.
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. Bhubaneswar’s growth is faster than the State’s urban growth rate. Along with Bhubaneswar’s urban growth, there is a simultaneous growth and expansion of the slum population and its slum areas. While 18 per cent households have individual latrines, only two per cent households have access to community toilets. There are 91 community toilets available in 31 slums. Water supply to toilets, both household and public, remains a major problem. Waste disposal for these toilets remains a concern.Only 20 per cent of slums are within 50 metres of an existing sewerage network, while 71 per cent are beyond 100 meters. Therefore connecting the toilets to sewerage network is very difficult.
Bhubaneswar has 124 public toilets across the city. Till 2016, the number of public toilets in the city was 65 but due to the civic body’s toilet building initiatives, the number nearly doubled in a year. Besides, modern public toilets, proposed under the Ama Sauchalaya scheme, are taken up by Sulabh International.
Even as Bhubaneswar was ranked the top Smart City, the city had obtained less mark in the service category, such as provision of public and community toilets. The city scored to 24th rank in cleanliness among the 73 cities rated under Swachh Sarvekshan (cleanliness survey) conducted by the Center and this year it scored 94 rank.The rate of open defecation in slum areas continues to be high and the civic body has committed to spend more on information, education and communication (IEC) to educate people about the importance of using toilets. Besides, the Swachh Bharat Mission cell of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation is working towards making Odisha capital an open defecation-free (ODF) city by 2019.
Though the number of toilets has increased significantly, the municipal corporation has faced repeated complaints from citizens regarding lack of water supply in some toilets. Despite the doubling of numbers in public toilets, many areas continue to see people defecating in the open. The city has failed to maintain proper sanitation systems and provide enough public toilets for its ever-growing population.Majority of the existing systems for sewage collection and treatment are not functioning well. It is obvious that the existing sewerage system needs major augmentation to almost full extent to ensure full coverage of the population and future wastewater generation.
Wastewater is discharged through outfalls into the Gangua nala and finally to Daya river. Only part of the generated sewage flows through closed conduits, and a major quantity flows through the open drains (10). The drain No.1 opens into the Kuakhai river and the remaining 9 open drains (Nos.2-10) to Gangua.  Most of the city roads have open drains. However, their functioning is hindered by blockages due to solid wastes dumped in drains. Narrow drains, drains with improper slopes or non-existence of drains in some areas have caused flooding and water logging, thus increasing the risk of diseases like malaria etc. Existing drains are also used to carry effluents from latrine pits as well as from septic tanks. In a few pockets, a raw sewage was also being discharged in the drains from the latrine pits. Connections from houses to drains are also not properly done in many places causing spilling of such wastewater on roads or nearby areas.
Qualities of life largely depend on safe drinking water and proper sanitation. Therefore in addition to the construction of   toilets, the sanitation system should cover the removal, transport and safe treatment or disposal of excreta. Discharging untreated sewage into any drains other than an underground sewerage system, or into open land, is an offence and invites prosecution under the laws of all Pollution Control Boards in the country. The disposal of sewage should be done in a safe and sustainable way to achieve improved sanitation for all. Besides, sewage must be treated properly and then re-used/re-cycled for various uses that do not need potable water quality.

World Town Planning Day 2017


The World Town Planning Day (WTPD) is held on November 8 in 30 countries, including India, to recognise and promote the role of planning in creating livable communities and sustainable urbanization. An international organisation for the WTPD was founded in 1949 by late Prof Carlos Maria della Paolera of the University of Buenos Aires.
Bhubaneswar as the capital city has attracted migrants from both rural and urban areas for better opportunity for business and employment. There is not enough provision for the housing and other infrastructural facility for the migrant people in the city. They suffer from poor living and working conditions, social isolation, poor access to basic amenities, while most of them settled down in slum pockets. As per 1941 Census, only three percent of the total population in Odisha lived in cities and towns as against 13.86 per cent for India. In 2011 census, the proportion of population living in the urban areas of the State stood at 16.68 per cent as compared to 31.16 per cent for the country. Odisha ranks 31st in the list of most urbanized States of the country, while in terms of actual urban population, the State ranks 11th in the list of States with the largest urban population.
The National Commission on Urbanization (NCU) has, in its policy proposal of 1988, stressed the need for (1) evolution of a spatial pattern of economic development and hierarchies of human settlements, (2) optimum distribution of population between rural and urban settlements, and among towns and cities of various sizes, (3) distribution of economic activities in small and medium-sized growth centres and provision of minimum levels of services in urban and rural areas.
The other major development programmes include (i) Urban Basic Services for the Poor (UBSP) programme, (ii) Environmental Improvement of Urban Slums (EIUS) programme, (iii) Integrated Development of Small and Medium Towns (IDSMT) (iv) various housing and infrastructure financing schemes of Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), (v) Mega Cities Project, and (vi) Integrated Urban Poverty Eradication Programme (IUPEP). In India, the Government is embarking on phase 2 of a major national initiative to improve urban living conditions. It seeks to consolidate the impacts of the national urban flagship programme – JNNURM targeting urban poverty, infrastructure, and local government policies, and Rajiv Awas Yojana(RAY) for the urban poor.  The RAY aims at supporting States to provide security of tenure to slum dwellers, and finance city-wide slum free strategies.
India has formulated a number of urban policies in the last decade but despite these initiatives, there are still examples of slum housing in the country. Odisha is one of the pioneering States in implementing various urban reforms in the country. The Directorate of Town Planning is the nodal agency for all urban planning related activities in the State. The State Government has initiated the preparation of master plans / CDPs for the various development areas in urban Odisha. During 2015-16, Comprehensive Development Plans (CDP) using GIS technologies have been taken up for the development areas under nine Development Authorities and consultants have been engaged. Among the nine development authorities, the BDA, the CDA, the BeDA and the KNDA have completed the preparation of CDPs and have secured approval of the Government (HUD department). For the remaining five development authorities, the draft CDP has been prepared. A draft GIS based master plan for Jharsuguda Regional Improvement Trust (JRIT) has already been completed.
Preparation of GIS based master plan for the next 11 towns are being undertaken. Master plans for five towns i.e. Bhadrak, Baleswar, Baripada, Keonjhar and Barbil are under progress by the identified consultants. For the remaining six towns, consultants have been selected.  The digital data base for further twenty towns is being prepared by the ORSAC. As per the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, the State Government has already devolved 18 functions enumerated in the 12th schedule of the Constitution to the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). Out of the 18 functions, 12 functions were already being exercised by the ULBs even before the initiation of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act. After introduction of the JNNURM, as part of its commitment, the State Government in principles has already transferred six functions, i. e. urban planning including town planning, land use and construction of building, urban forestry, water supply, fire service and safeguarding the interest of the weaker section of the society including the handicapped and mentally retarded.
Many communities are successfully using planning approaches that aim to use existing resources more effectively and minimize the impact of development on the environment. There is a need to work on several areas to manage the problems of urbanization, including inclusive cities, urban governance, funding, planning and capacity building. Sustainable future cities should be places where all residents through inclusive and equitable opportunities feel satisfied with their level of well-being.
To achieve this it is crucial to integrate the three dimensions of sustainability such as, social development, economic development and environmental management –based on the foundation of urban governance. The economic system should facilitate the creation of decent jobs. Social system should provide services that fulfill basic human needs such as access to safe water supply and sanitation, health and education. In addition, the social system should ensure peoples prosperity and security, and should also offer ample opportunities for every citizen to participate in society.
The environmental management system should provide clean air and water to all. It should also provide sufficient amenities and leisure opportunities so that people can enjoy a good quality of life. To achieve sustainable urban development, the Development Plans/Master Plans as well as Zonal Plans and Local Area Plans should be made and updated regularly. Master plan for the towns is essential for the preparation and monitoring the land use control. Comprehensive Development Plan is also required for town planning and to provide basic infrastructure to people. The role of the town planner is to create appropriate and sustainable living environments. Regional planning and growth management planning are planning approaches that help communities to accommodate future growth while using their resources effectively. To manage the transformation of Odisha’s cities and towns and effectively manage new growth, it requires well-organized planning procedure and effective legislation. Besides good planning and design decisions require appropriate infrastructure technology and the institutional capacity to enforce decisions.