Time to clean up?

An ecologically informed master plan for Kanpur may help the city deal with pollution

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

there may be hope for overcrowded, congested and filthy urban India in the near future. Town planners have the option to prioritise environmental considerations. An environmental management plan is being prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (cpcb) for Kanpur. Once prepared, it will be taken up by the Uttar Pradesh government for consideration. Kanpur is the first among 24 cities where such a study has been undertaken.

The move has been appreciated by environmentalists and town planners alike. Once accepted and implemented on a large scale, they opine, living conditions could improve in urban India. The objective of the plan is to regulate the growth of cities keeping into account the environmental resources of the districts and the hinterland.

"We should have planned cities where limitations are kept in mind and preventive action is taken," cpcb chairperson D K Biswas told Down To Earth . Raghu Babu, an environmental engineer who heads the project, explained that the objective of the plan is to introduce "structural change, where landuse is conducive to the environment."

The old master plan of the city expired in 1991 and the city is in absolute chaos. Kanpur, situated between the rivers Ganga and Pandva, has expanded in a linear fashion along the banks. The centre is becoming decongested, while the periphery overflows. Industries located along the rivers discharge waste and effluents. The highway bypass is under-utilised and bottlenecks on old routes are frequent.

Domestic sewage and discharge from a tuberculosis hospital are released by five huge drains into the river at the point which serves as a source of drinking water for half the city. About 900 metric tonnes of solid waste remains unremoved from various parts of the city each day. The city administration is still trying to find a long-term solution. According to a conservative estimate, the people of Kanpur are spending Rs 350 crore per year for health care as a result of ambient air pollution.

But the crucial aspect -- implementation of the new plan -- depends on the government. "If we receive funds, we may help in the implementation," says Raghu Babu. "We want to provide appropriate infrastructural facilities to the city and will discuss it with state government officials." A master plan for Haldia is next on the cpcb 's agenda.

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