World Water Day 2018

Damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home affecting their health, education and livelihoods. The World Water Day on March 22 is about focusing attention on the importance of water. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water: Eexploring Nature-Based Solutions to the Water Challenges We Face in the 21st century’.
Water quality in majority of rivers flowing in Odisha has been found to be polluted due to waste water released from drainage systems in the urban areas. The pollution level is alarmingly above the danger mark in most of the places. Municipal sewage is considered to be the main pollutant of water. Most of the sewage receives no treatment before discharge in all the cities of Odisha. The cities like Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela, Sambalpur and Brahmapur which generate approximately 10, 7.5, 6.0, 3.075 and 5.0 lakh litres of sewage effluents respectively every day. These effluents are discharged into the river Mahanadi and Kathajodi in Cuttack, Kuakhai and Daya in Bhubaneswar, Brahmani in Rourkela, Mahanadi again at Sambalpur and and Rushikulya at Brahmapur.
The effluents contain heavy metals like lead, chromium, cadmium, zinc and mercury. Besides, the sewage effluents are rich with harmful bacteria and viruses which contaminate the river water. While drinking this contaminated water, people suffer from serious diseases.
In Odisha, there are paper industries at Rayagada, Choudwar and Jaypore which discharge effluents to the rivers. Discharge of effluents from smelter plants of Nalco to the water bodies at Angul cause fluoride pollution in drinking water. Agricultural water pollution is caused by fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, farm animal wastes and sediments. Application and heavy doses of fertilisers pollute ground water in many parts of the State. Death of aquatic animals has been reported in intensive rice growing areas of Odisha due to application of pesticides. Careless deposit of animal waste close to the wells and ponds cause pollution of water through leaching. The pathogenic organisms of these wastes transmit to the water and pose serious problems. Besides,  during the festival season, more than 5,000 idols are immersed in different rivers of Odisha which cause lead pollution in river water.
With rapid expansion of cities and domestic water supply, quantity of wastewater is increasing in the same proportion. Over 80 per cent of all the wastewater from our homes, cities, industry and agriculture flows back to nature and pollutes the environment. Odisha lags far behind in terms of access to toilet facilities. Major reason for perpetuation of diseases like diarrhoea and jaundice can be attributed to the non-availability of safe drinking water with poor sanitation facilities and practices.
A majority of people in rural areas still depend on open water bodies i.e. river, stream, pond etc as source of drinking water. The natural drinking water sources are getting polluted due to a number of reasons, including environmental and ecological, which affect the quality of drinking water. Very often it has been reported that water borne diseases are a major cause of poor health of women and children in rural areas.
Bhubaneswar’s increasing population growth has resulted in excessive wastewater generation and currently it is estimated at 180 million liters per day (MLD). The increased population and waste load, combined with the absence of a regular sewerage system, has led to untreated and semi-treated sewage, flowing into the city’s water bodies and creating unhygienic conditions.
Water pollution prevention and control measures are critical to improving water quality and reducing the need for costly wastewater and drinking water treatment. Discharge of sewage and affluent into water bodies and rivers must be banned and recycling of waste water must be pursued and enforced. This will help in keeping the water sources clean. Treated sewage and effluent can be used for agriculture and industrial production. Also there are several steps that can be taken to help prevent water pollution from getting worse.
Water is a key to sustainable development; it has value from social, economic and environmental perspectives. It is impossible to maintain the integrity of a balanced ecosystem without an overall strategy on water resources management. Recycling and reuse of wastewater is an important aspect of water management providing a way to increase available water while also preventing pollution of water bodies.
Once water becomes polluted, it can affect people and animals either directly through consumption or indirectly through food sources.  In addition to this, water pollution also plays a big factor in the survival of animals, plant life and various ecological factors. Therefore, we need to improve the collection and treatment of wastewater and safely reuse it. Besides, awareness must be created among people regarding present condition and upcoming water stress issues and the method to save water. City and municipal Governments play critical roles in water management ensuring provision of water, sanitation and wastewater removal.
The drinking water resources and its nearby areas should be cleaned. Every industry should have its own effluent treatment plant. Use of pesticides in agriculture should be limited and only standard quality pesticide be used. Factories are expected to treat its effluent wastes prior to discharge. Toxic material must be treated chemically and converted into harmless materials. If possible, factories should try to recycle the treated water. Urgent action is needed to check water pollution. Nature-based solutions, such as planting trees to replenish forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands, is a sustainable and cost-effective way to help the rebalance the water cycle, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve human health and livelihoods. By using nature-based solutions to meet the water needs of a growing population, we will contribute to the creation of a circular economy and protect the natural environment and reduce pollution. This will guarantee the Sustainable Development Goal 6, to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.


International Women’s Day 2018



The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (March 8) was “Time is now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”. UN global efforts for the day focussed on women in rural areas, who experience more drastic gaps of inequality.  They lack infrastructure and services, decent work and social protection and are left more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. For global progress towards gender equality, moving towards Sustainable Development Goals means urgent action for rural women – action for an adequate standard of living, access to land and productive assets, food security, decent work, education and health.
While the male literacy rate in the country is 82.1 per cent, female literacy lags at 65.5 per cent. According to 2011 census, the populations of rural women who are literate are 58.8 per cent. In Odisha the male literacy rate is 82.4 per cent and female literacy rate is 64.4 per cent. The workforce participation rate of males and females in the country is 54.4 per cent and 21.9 per cent, respectively. In Odisha, according to 2011 census, 61.8 per cent of total workers are engaged in agriculture. The percentage of agricultural labourers among total women worker is 57.8 per cent. Rural women are the major contributors in agriculture and its allied fields. Her work ranges from crop production, livestock production to cottage industry. Despite such a huge involvement, her role and dignity has yet not been recognized. Ever since Independence, a number of innovative programmes have been launched for the uplift of women in our country. But the result seems to be far from satisfactory. Women are facing problems in their daily life even after they are given equal rights and opportunities like men by the Constitution of India.
The lack of adequate self-employment in Odisha has led to a large section of poor migrating to different parts of the country and also inadequate irrigation facility is another major cause which keeps agriculture at backward. Besides these factors, rural Odisha lacks infrastructural facilities. Unemployment is the biggest challenge in the rural areas that leads to poverty and other social issues. Educating them and empowering them with a source of livelihood really matters a lot. The condition of women is more miserable in the rural Odisha with respect to various socioeconomic aspects.
In rural areas women do more than half of the total agricultural work. But their work is not valued. As the service sector was not much developed in the past, rural women were engaged in agricultural sector. But now women are working in other fields.  Making the youths able to work and earn through trainings is a great initiative.The Women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) in Odisha have become a source of inspiration for women and their welfare. The introduction of Self Help Groups (SHG) concept and its implementation is a mechanism to empower poor masses and particularly women of Odisha. It leads the path towards economic empowerment of women in the State. The SHG is a process by which a large group of women (10 – 20), with common objectives are facilitated to come together voluntarily to participate in the development activities such as saving, credit and income generation thereby ensuring economic independence.
The concept of Women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) has been adopted by many agencies including the Government in the State which operated through women groups. Banks and schemes such as Rashtriya Mahila Kosh provide financial assistance to women’s groups. Formation of WSHGs is certainly a viable alternative to achieve the objectives of rural development and to get community participation in all rural development programmers. The Government encourages women to form SHGs, especially in rural areas. This is mainly to improve the status of women living below the poverty line. In Odisha these groups started functioning under the flagship programme for poverty alleviation and empowerment of women named as Mission Shakti launched by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on March 8, 2001 on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Women SHGs are involved in a variety of income generation activities such as pisciculture, dairy, vegetable cultivation, floriculture, stitching, bee keeping, rope making etc. Women became a member of Self Help Group in the beginning stage. Then, she involved herself in different credit and saving activities.
The 73rd and 74th amendments initiated the processes for introducing institutional arrangements for seeking integrated development of settlements, areas and regions. For this purpose these amendments provide two types of Committees namely District Planning Committee and Metropolitan Planning Committee. These committees would ensure that the plans prepared by local bodies at village and town levels are integrated and accommodated within the framework of 20 to 25 year perspective plans and 5 year economic development plans prepared at the national and State levels.
Institute of Town Planners, India in the year 1995 conducted a study to detail out urban development plans formulation and implementation (UDPFI) guidelines. The basic purpose of this study was to arrive at a methodology of plan preparation that would not only help to prepare better master plans but also help in achieving integrated development of rural-urban areas.  The UDPFI guidelines suggest various institutional support mechanisms that would help in achieving rural-urban integration.
Women make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home. Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth. Women must know their rights and be able to access legal systems. Besides, they must be involved in the decision-making process and exercise their right and responsibility to participate equally with men in governance. It will lead the path towards economic empowerment of women in both urban and rural areas.

National Science Day 2018


The National Science Day is celebrated on February 28 all over India to commemorate the invention of the Raman Effect by Indian physicist Sir Chandrasekhar Venkata Raman on the same day in the year 1928. For his great success in the field of science, Sir Raman was awarded and honoured with Nobel Prize in Physics in the year 1930. Besides, the day offers an opportunity to widely spread a message about the significance of scientific application in the daily life of people. The theme for the day this year is Science and Technology for a Sustainable Future.
Sustainable design is a design approach to promote the environmental quality and the quality of building indoor environment by reducing negative impacts on building and the surrounding natural environment.Climate change is happening and its effects will have severe consequences for our society and environment. Reducing energy use in buildings is one of the most important ways to reduce humans’ overall environmental impact.Modern buildings are significant users of energy and materials and they have a large impact on the natural environment and resources. As the built environment continues to expand there is an urgent need to promote and enhance sustainable practices in the built environment.
Architecture is the art and science of designing buildings. At present, there are many schools of thought on sustainable building. Sustainable buildings can be defined as those buildings that have minimum adverse impacts on natural environment. Sustainable design involves considering the whole life of buildings, taking environmental quality, functional quality and future values into account. Successful sustainable design requires an integrated approach since building systems and operational practices are dependent on solar access, light penetration and architectural design. The approach to design examines how a building interacts with its systems, activities and surrounding environment.

Sustainable building attempts to reduce the collective environmental impacts during the production of building components, during the construction process, as well as during the life cycle of the building. This design practice emphasizes efficiency of heating and cooling systems; alternative energy sources, reused or recycled building materials, on-site power generation – solar technology, wind power, rainwater harvesting and on-site waste management etc.

An essential element of Sustainable Building Design is indoor environmental quality including air quality, illumination, and thermal comfort. Each climate zone has distinctly different design and construction requirements. The Indian Habitat Centre in New Delhi has been designed keeping in view the climate consideration. It is a centre for cultural, economic and social activities. The India Habitat Centre (IHC) was designed by Joseph Allen Stein, BV Doshi and JR Bhalla and constructed in the late 1980s.
Stein believes  that India is a  country, which interrelates  the modern technologies and an ancient value system at the same span of time. Stein had worked on  forms  as  always  but  he  was  more conscious  about Ecological Balance, and by so detailing out his spaces he used to remain in harmony with the nature. His  use  of garden spaces as the soul of design and elements like planter boxes, rooftop gardens and water bodies to integrate the building to these garden spaces  is  another  significant  feature  of  his designs. Stein approach to design was flexible, functional yet sensitive to materials, site and local conditions.
Stein was one of the first architects working in India after independence to use traditional elements in a modern building. His development of the jali and several other shading devices dramatically filter light and create a quality of repose in the spaces they shade from the fierce north Indian sun. Each of his projects in and around Delhi were conceived of in order to offer relief from the intense climate and created a new urban grammar of form making. He integrated buildings with the idea of vertical gardens – a prototype for bringing living beauty to crowded urban settings.        There is a strong relationship between sustainability, technology and architecture which has been reflected in Stein’s design.
The new buildings, with their glass facades and without harmony with nature, are all examples of architecture working against nature. Today, architects are using technological solutions for sustainable building design. Sustainable technology in the energy sector is based on utilizing renewable sources of energy. The use of technology is an important step towards more sustainable building. Sustainable technologies use less energy, fewer limited resources, do not deplete natural resources, do not directly or indirectly pollute the environment, and can be reused or recycled at the end of their useful life. There is a need to adopt sustainable technology in the energy sector. Comprehensive energy planning in the early planning process will promote energy efficiency and sustainability in the building design and construction.

International Migrants Day 2017

The United Nations’ International Migrants Day is observed on December 18 to recognise the efforts, contributions and rights of migrants worldwide.
There are 106 urban local bodies (ULBs) in Odisha and every urban body in the State has more or less migrant populations. Bhubaneswar as the capital city has attracted migrants from both rural and urban areas for better opportunity for business and employment.
Migration has been considered as the persistent problem of Odisha for a long time. The State suffers from distress migration mostly from south west regions including KBK districts. The prevalence of small farmers having small sized land holdings, seasonal unemployment in Odisha forced the people to search for alternate sources of livelihood. Besides, migration is an outcome due to the repeated disasters that strike Odisha at regular intervals. Cyclones, floods, droughts and famines hit the State at different times in different regions.
Due to this, thousands of people from Odisha leave their native village in search of food and employment. They work in brick kilns in the neighbouring State of Andhra Pradesh, the construction sites of the other cities.  Besides, nearly thousands of labourers go to Surat.This is a long term migration, mostly in the textile-weaving and diamond-polishing businesses. This migration occurs as a survival strategy and not a step for better livelihood options.
Today there is also mass migration of villages where the whole family migrates in search of job.The number of migrant workers from Odisha to other States is rising steadily. Compared to 55,000 workers migrating from Odisha in 2007, 1.46 lakh left the State in 2015. 87,000 seasonal migrant workers left Odisha to other States in 2008, which rose to 1.05 lakh in 2012, 1.2 lakh in 2013 and 1.35 lakh in 2014. Maximum migrants were from the Balangir district all these years (45,000 in 2015).
Areas with urban centres, administrative head quarters like Bhubaneswar, and business sectors attract the migrants from backward areas where employment opportunities are very less.
Migrant labourers of Bhubaneswar are the construction worker, shop man, rickshaw puller and daily worker. Some are also engaged as street vendor, hawkers, domestic jobs like house and utensil cleaning etc. Lacks of employment in the surrounding rural pockets are the main reason for their migration to the city.  In the town they get better wage compared to their villages.  Some of them are seasonal migrants.Whenever agricultural starts they go back to their village and during the off – season, they come to the city in search of work.
The migrant labourers of Bhubaneswar generally settle in the Bastis of various slum pockets of the city. Many of them reside in kutcha houses in Basti and some have no house in basti also. In many cases unaffordable rents in slums force them to live at their workplaces, on the verandahs of the shops and markets, shop pavements, railway stations or in open areas in the city in night. Most of the time, they experience harassment by the police and other local authorities.
Bhubaneswar, the fast growing cities in India has lost its earlier planned status due to massive growth of migrant population and the increased informal sector activities in the recent years.During the initial planning stage construction workers, people engaged in service sector were not envisaged as a permanent sector of the city’s growing population.
Migrants constitute a ‘floating’ and invisible population in the society. In low-income regions especially, rural–urban migration is seen as contributing to shortages in the provision of adequate housing, basic infrastructure and services; also to overcrowding and congestion as well as increasing exposure to environmental hazards. In India, internal migration has been accorded very low priority by the Government.
Besides, in the absence of a coherent policy framework and strategy, migration imposes heavy costs on human development through poor labour arrangements and working conditions of migrants, and obstacles in their access to shelter, education, healthcare and food.
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 and poor access to basic amenities. In fact, cities grow in different ways, which can be difficult to distinguish. It may be through migration or the natural growth of the city’s population.  Migration to cities significantly contributes to urbanisation.
Therefore the city should plan for the migrants. Unplanned migration can be a serious problem for the city.  Migrant population should be included in the city planning process. If well planned, migration can enhance the dynamism of cities and making the cities healthier, more profitable and more interesting places to live in future.
There is a need to improve institutional preparedness and build capacity for facilitating and promoting migration. Inter-district and inter-state coordination committees may be created to jointly plan institutional arrangements between administrative jurisdictions of sending and receiving areas to ensure service delivery.
Odisha launches special action plan to reduce migration problem. Initially, the action plan would be implemented in Balangir and Nuapada districts.The special action plan has been prepared for intense action in 30 gram panchayats of the two districts to curb migration and facilitate creation of livelihood opportunities for migrant workers within the State. Internal migrants positively contribute to the development of the society. Some of the strategies that need to be adopted to ensure a better inclusion of internal migrants in society include mainstreaming internal migration in a comprehensive manner in policy and national development plans; generating reliable data on all facets of internal migration, particularly on short-term migration and multiple reasons for migration; developing portability of benefits in all government social protection schemes and public services; providing support services for migrants at the source and destination areas and increasing representation of migrants in decision-making processes. Migration helps to minimize regional, socioeconomic, and cultural disparities, and is considered to be an integral component of the development process.
But absence of coherent policy framework poses many challenges in achieving safe migration. There is a need to provide legal or social protection to this migrant population.This will promote safe migration practices in vulnerable communities improve the working and living conditions of migrant workers in cities.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2017

The United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is annually observed on December 3 to focus on issues that affect people with disabilities worldwide. The aim of the day is to encourage a better understanding of people affected by a disability together with helping to make people more aware of the rights, dignity and welfare of disabled people, as well as raise awareness about the benefits of integrating disabled persons into every aspect of life.The theme for this year’s IDPD is ‘Transformation towards Sustainable and Resilient Society for all.’ This theme focuses on the enabling conditions for the transformative changes envisaged in the 2030 development agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Odisha Government has enacted Persons with Disabilities (Equal opportunities, Protection of right and full participation) Odisha Rules, 2003.  As per the rules, the buildings, places and transportation systems for public use will be made barrier free. Disabled persons encounter many obstacles that prevent them from moving about freely and safely. Therefore, while designing the building environment, adequate space should be allocated for persons using mobility devices, like wheelchairs, crutches and walkers, as well as those walking with the assistance of other persons.Smart Cities Mission is the greatest opportunity to ensure inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in all new developments that will now take place in India. However, the Smart Cities Mission had until now been called non-inclusive for the disabilities. The Smart City Mission in India is to improve the quality of life in 100 fast growing urban centers, including Bhubaneswar.
The aim is to increase all citizens quality of life and to improve the efficiency and quality of the services provided by city planning authorities. Smart cities can be a place where the disabled feel free to move in public places.  Besides, the Smart City should provide more inclusive environment for the disabled people to participate in the smart environment.  For example, a wheelchair user going to the shopping, public places, railway stations and airports should be able to identify the ideal route to the particular area. The open spaces can be designed in such a manner that they can be used by everyone. This approach to the Smart City planning process will benefit the disabled persons. But in Bhubaneswar, a majority of the public places are not barrier free. Lack of disabled friendly toilets in public places is a big barrier for the disabled. However, there are proposals to provide barrier -free access in Government buildings in the city. These include the Jaydev Bhavan, Hare Krishna Mahatab State Library, the Heads of Departments Building, State Museum, Secretariat, Capital Hospital, Commissionerate Police, Rabindra Mandap, Rajdhani College, BJB Autonomous College and the Rajiv Bhawan. The Indira Gandhi Park and the Biju Patnaik Park are also included in the list. Besides, a set of design guidelines should be prepared in the Smart City planning process.
All public buildings, public places and all connecting routes should be designed to allow barrier-free access and mobility for the disabled. It is highly recommended to implement the policies that will help the persons with disability to move and work in a safe environment. In the Smart City planning process, the barrier- free city map can be prepared and made available in the internet and people with disabilities can use it to create their own barrier-free route for reaching their desired destination quickly and safely without anybody’s help.
At least 2-5 per cent of the residential buildings in the city should be made accessible to persons with disabilities by providing, disabled-friendly lifts, toilets as well as signage. In order to meet the need of the particularly disabled people in housing, the house should be as barrier-free as possible. Before building any apartment house for the handicapped, it is advisable to note street conditions and access to transportation. Besides, small-scale modifications within the housing complexes like provision of ramps for wheel chair may be required to get in and out of their homes. For the convenience of wheelchair-bound persons, the authority should provide lifts and widen the doorway for them as far as practicable.
The Government of India has taken the responsibility of providing the optimal environment to ensure full participation of the persons with disabilities.In this context, the Government has introduced a number of programmes, schemes and facilities for the welfare of the disabled. Urban local bodies, development authorities and other State departments are responsible for creating barrier-free built environment in towns and cities. Amendment of building by-laws is the most important step towards creation of barrier-free built environment in different cities and the guidelines for barrier-free environment may be referred from the Bureau of Indian Standards, the Ministry of Urban Development guidelines etc. The barrier-free design guidelines will help considerably towards greater independence of not only wheelchair users, but also hopefully, the elderly, the visually or hearing impaired, children, and indeed, a broad spectrum of the community.
Persons with disability are an integral part of the society. But their physical disability distinguishes them from the rest of the society. There is a need to work together with people, technical personnel and Government organisations to promote barrier-free smart development that will make the city comfortable for everyone to live and work. Builders and developers should implement disabled-friendly guidelines within and outside buildings to make them exclusively, barrier free. Many people are still unaware of the rights of the disabled people. To ensure the overall implementation of these acts, the disabled persons need to be more active and demand for proper implementation of the disabilities Act.The persons with disabilities need special care in the society. With required assistance they can contribute to the wellbeing of a nation in several ways.

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.