- Green Schools Award: India's most environment friendly schools
- Environment and poverty: Sign up for our new monthly newsletter
- Editorial: Urban growth model needs reality check
- Cover story: Tipaimukh Dam in Manipur driving a wedge?
- News: Andhra uranium mining project gives locals short shrift
- News: Creation of Greater Bangalore will strain the city's resources
- News: Corporate pressure puts India's obesity prevention plans on
- Features: Seeds Bill doesn't matter to these farmers
- Science: To measure rain, get mobile
- Short course: Managing information resources in the digital age
Green Schools Award: India's most environment friendly schools
For over a year, students have been monitoring the environmental
performance of their schools under the Gobar Times Green School Programme.
Now it is time to announce the winners of the Green Schools Award
for India's top performing schools. You are invited to attend the
awards event to congratulate the participants. All schools performed
a rigourous self-audit following a set of guidelines outlined in the
Green Schools Manual.
Date: Friday, November 10, 2006
Time: 3 pm
Venue: Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi
Awards will be given in the following categories:
- Top green schools of India
- Green teachers' team award
- Best students' audit team award
For more information visit:
To sign up to become a green school>>
Environment and poverty: Sign up for our new monthly newsletter
E-pov is a new monthly news bulletin from CSE's Natural Resource
Management and Livelihood unit. This provocative bulletin brings to
you the latest developments in environment, poverty and governance
in India and south Asia. It also features community initiatives on
livelihood security. The newsletter updates on the development effectiveness
of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and intends
to be a platform for serious dialogue.
In the latest issue of E-pov, read an assessment of the rural employment
guarantee act six months after its implementation, the government's
announcement of a Rs 5,000 crore plan for backward regions and much
The latest issue of E-pov is available at >>
To read more about CSE's work on natural resource management and
livelihoods visit >>
Editorial: Urban growth model needs reality check
By Sunita Narain
Urban India is beginning to explode. The question is if our cities
will be able to manage this growth or will they just burst at the
seams? The reason I ask this is because we still don't have a clue
about what urban growth will mean for us. We cannot see beyond the
glitz of the malls, the swank of the private housing apartments or
guarded green areas. We cannot and do not know how we will supply
water to all, build houses for all, treat sewage, provide the required
parking for an ever expanding fleet of vehicles or even, more basically,
where we will bury the growing mountains of garbage our cities throw
up. We seem to live in a make-believe world where infrastructure is
the buzzword and hope funds for urban renewal will make problems go
But the reality is a little different and difficult. The fact is
that cities represent a face of development that is resource- and
capital-intensive. The resource intensity of the model of urban growth
means that it uses huge amounts of energy and materials and leads
to huge amounts of waste. This then requires investment - huge and
continuous - to mitigate adverse environmental impacts. On the other
hand, the capital intensity of urban growth means that it divides
the rich and the poor. The high cost of urban services - for water
supply, sanitation, garbage removal, transport - requires big investment
in social services and provision of basic goods for poorer sections
This so-called sustainable urban growth model has worked (partially)
in the industrialised world because of its past wealth accumulation.
Developed countries could afford to temper the adverse impacts of
growth through public investments and subsidies. But even they remain
steps behind the environmental and social problems and therefore,
need to keep investing more to mitigate them.
The question for India is if this model of urban development will
work. The technical answer seems obvious: to invest in big and small
infrastructure projects like flyovers, roads and drinking water supply
programmes. The managerial solution seems equally simple: for the
state to become efficient in delivery of services or to outsource
delivery and create infrastructure for the supposedly more efficient
private sector. The buzzword for this is public-private partnerships,
which have resulted in the reform of public agencies. But this, most
cities find, is not the full solution.
This is because we must understand that our urban services are stretched
not because these are subsidised for the poor. The capital and resource
intensity of this model means that these services are too expensive
for even the relatively rich in the developing world. In this scenario,
cities cannot under any circumstances extend these services to all.
The problem is that cities in the South remain inhabited by relatively
poor people. In most cities - rich and modern - as much as 30-50 per
cent of people live in poverty, in slums, "unauthorised" colonies
or illegal settlements. They remain outside the purview of development.
Similarly, even in supposedly modern and car-dependent cities, as
many as 20-30 per cent of people walk or bicycle to work. They cannot
even afford public transport. In surveys done in relatively affluent
and fast modernising cities like Delhi, it has been found that even
now 60 per cent of the people commute by buses, which occupy less
than 7 per cent of the road space, while cars which crowd over 75
per cent of the roads, transport only 20 per cent of the people. In
other words, in these cities, the car has not replaced the bus or
the bicycle it has only marginalised them; crowded them out.
In this situation, Delhi and other cities of our rich-poor country
must combine the convenience of mobility and economic growth with
public health imperatives. In this hybrid-growth paradigm - which
combines the best of the new and old - cities should run on public
transport, using the most advanced of technologies. In other words,
even as the whole world looks for solutions to pollution and congestion,
we must find our own answers.
The situation is similar with water and waste provisions. With large
numbers of people in modern cities without access to clean drinking
water or unconnected to sewerage systems, the answers for both water
and pollution will be in planners' ability to find innovative solutions
that can distribute water at affordable prices, without distribution
losses and innovate with cheaper and more manageable sewage treatment
options so that cities do not drown in waste.
The answer will lie in making services cost-effective. This can
only be done if water utilities are improved, services are paid for
and, most importantly, we realise that distribution losses can at
best be plugged by reducing the length of the pipeline itself. A city
will be more efficient if it collects water locally, supplies it locally
and disposes waste locally.
Our cities must draw up a model of sustainable urban growth. This
requires finding ways of 'leapfrogging' so that they can have progress
without pollution and inequity. But this will demand knowledge: new
and inventive thinking so that planners do not imitate the cities
of the developed world, but create models based on their present and
future challenges. In other words, the concept of modern cities must
be re-imagined so that it does not follow New York or Shanghai, but
instead is based on the reality of building a liveable, safe and healthy
Raipur, Guwahati or Mumbai.
Otherwise, we will continue to build gated communities - elite enclaves
of clean India, which will find it difficult to survive the growing
stench of poverty and pollution. The question is: do we have the guts
to dream different dreams and make them come true?
To comment, write to >>
Read the editorial online >>
Cover story: Tipaimukh Dam in Manipur driving a wedge?
In a rare show of unity, Manipur's academics, politicians, students
and civil society organisations have demanded that work on the proposed
Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydel Project be stopped. They fear that the
project would deepen the cracks in the state's already fissured society
- as it would benefit some groups at the cost of others.
Read online >>
More in Down To Earth magazine
News: Andhra uranium mining project gives locals short shrift
Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy is a worried
man these days. People from his own constituency and supporters of
his party are fighting to stop his pet project: a 26.79-million tonne
uranium mining venture in Tummalapalle village. They are particularly
furious at strong-arm tactics to force the project down their throats.
Read complete article >>
News: Creation of Greater Bangalore will strain the city's resources
Karnataka says formation of the Greater Bangalore entity -- by merging
city municipal councils, town municipal councils and over 100 villages
-- will encourage balanced development. However, many fear that this
will lead to an urban explosion, which will strain the city's already
burdened resources. Councillor elections have been delayed indefinitely
until Greater Bangalore is officially created. Come November, the
city will be governed not by elected officials but by an 'administrator'
claim media reports. The state government has refused to comment.
Read online >>
News: Corporate pressure puts India's obesity prevention plans on
India faces a major problem of obesity linked with chronic diseases.
Despite this -- two years after the WHO passed a global strategy on
diet, activity and health, with India as one of the testing grounds
-- the government has failed to implement a strategy to curb the trend.
The way out: creating awareness about the dangers of obesity at the
individual and community levels.
Read online >>
Features: Seeds Bill doesn't matter to these farmers
Farmers in Kadiyam, Andhra Pradesh, have worked towards making the
area India's horticulture capital. Sopan Joshi talks to people gearing
up for a future with biotechnology, but oblivious to the Seed Bill.
Read online (subscription required) >>
Science: To measure rain, get mobile
The strength of a mobile phone's signal is a good indicator of rainfall,
according to a new study published in Science. Mobile phone towers
measure signal strength to boost it during bad whether. Researchers
have found that these detectors can be as good at measuring rainfall
as traditional radars and rain guages. This opens up a new way of
Read online (subscription required) >>
Short course: Managing information resources in the digital age
(New Delhi, November 21-25, 2006)
This popular, hands-on training programme includes:
- Sourcing information (information acquisition and research)
- Classification and indexing (including digitised resources)
- Developing and managing audio-visual resources (films, photos, CDs)
- Library automation tools
- Product planning, services and marketing
- Digital library fundamentals (IT for information management)
- Web-based tools for information outreach
- Basic Webmaster skills
- Developing an information resource centre: Planning
Last date for registration: November 4, 2006
Register online >>
For more information contact:
Kiran Pandey < email@example.com
or Shams Kazi < firstname.lastname@example.org
CSE is an independent, public interest organisation that was established
in 1982 by Anil Agarwal, a pioneer of India's environmental movement.
CSE's mandate is to research, communicate and promote sustainable
development with equity, participation and democracy.
Contact CSE: http://www.cseindia.org/aboutus/feedback.htm
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