Monday, June 29, 2009

Pause and think!

“More coastal space falls to Builders” – Such ran an article in HT in June 09. The article stated that a developer in Mumbai wanted to build a hotel and rehabilitation buildings in place of all the slums that are built on a CRZ (Costal regulatory zone).

Mumbai has a unique distinction- It is one of the 20 megacities in the world. A megacity is a city with a population of over 10million & density of over 2000people/sq km. Like the other megacities it is faced with a dilemma of development versus environmental sustainability. But what exasperates this dilemma is that Mumbai is a coastal city.

Out of the top ten coastal cities exposed to climate change in the form of floods, Mumbai is 5th. Club that with the fact that over 90% of the planet's living and nonliving resources are found within a few hundred kilometers of the coast we have a serious economic and environmental problem at hand.
Converting slums in the CRZs to buildings and hotels doesn’t answer a serious question. Is it sustainable? Crores will go into building this infrastructure. And crores more will go in rehabilitating the rehabilitees when a storm strikes Mumbai.

An idol city for many, Shanghai has constructed more than 4,000 high-rises in less than three decades. Another coastal city which may see realty costs plummet and huge environmental issues once a deluge ensues- It is number 4 on the list. Incidentally, Calcutta is number 3.

Solutions in the form of stricter coastal regulatory norms, disaster management programs and alternative rehabilitation facilities are the need of the hour. If not taken seriously we may see Mumbai go back in history in the form of 7 distinctly divided islands; or maybe more.

Source for numbers – (OECD report) (Ocean Carbon and Biochemistry)

- Karthik

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