Till 1960, Bengaluru had 262 water bodies. Today, the number has reduced to 81. Out of this only 34 are recognized as live lakes. The vegetation of the city has seen a decline of 78 percent. This is how you can start saving the garden city.
Till 1960, Bengaluru had 262 water bodies. Today, the number has reduced to 81. Out of this, only 34 are recognized as live lakes.
The lakes have always been a crucial part of the city. They not only help in groundwater recharge but are home to a large number of biodiversity. There was a time when these lakes were the main source of water for the city.
With city witnessing an alarming growth of built-up area in the last four decades, an unimaginable harm has been done to these water bodies. As per a report by IISC 54 percent of lakes are encroached by illegal buildings. Nearly 66 percent of lakes are sewage fed, 14 percent surrounded by slums and 72 percent showed loss of catchment area.
The poor condition of lakes is not the only problem. With the quick urban sprawl, the vegetation of the city has seen a decline of 78 percent.
“Growing population of the city, which seems unstoppable, has led to the increased need for resources. More drinking water, more living spaces, etc. To fulfill these needs, a large scale concrete infrastructure has been developed all over the city without considering the long-term environment crisis. All the lake beds and open areas have become a concrete jungle,” explained Jaganathan Hema Kumar, founder, India Green Infrastructure Network (IGIN).
Often many actions in the name of sustainability have resulted in further worsening of the condition. For instance, planting the non-native species, which often dominate the nearby plantation.
How do we undo the damage done to the city? Where do we start?
“Green and Water. These two words are the solution to everything. We should start with recharging the water bodies and converting all our empty spaces into the green. We need to have rooftop gardens, vertical gardens, and better water management,” Hema Kumar said.
Environment and development should co-exist. Hema Kumar further added that existing projects should be redesigned to accommodate green infrastructures like green corridors, small parks, urban vegetation, swales and rain gardens. These green zones should be connected to footpaths for walking and cycling.
The first step should be greening of all the government buildings. Followed by creating more artificial lakes in large existing open lands along with creating dense green cover in and around the city.
What can individuals do?
“One has to remember the traditional ways of living. Earlier, every house would have a green patch and lots of trees in their homes. This has always been Bengaluru’s culture. We have to bring those practices back,” Hema Kumar said.
For people living in apartments with limited space, rooftop and vertical garden can be a good step to bring the green back in their lives. Each building, whether corporate or residential should have a rainwater harvesting system in place.
A culture of urban agriculture should also be promoted. “Especially in offices, a rooftop vegetable garden can help in reducing stress. Employees can go to these green spaces and indulge in a healthy activity. They can further take back the harvest to their homes. This can create a great positive impact in the work atmosphere,” said Hema Kumar.
What should the government do?
Providing incentives to people for creating green spaces would help in encouraging more people to adopt sustainable practices.
Further, the government should research on successful policies of the world and incorporate those int he country. All the future government constructions should be done in a sustainable way.
“Political will, political vision and political policy, political commitment and political implementation. All of these should come together if we want to see even a small change in the current situation,” said Hema Kumar.
To see a larger impact, public, policy, and professionals should come together. As per a study conducted by National Geographic and Globescam. Indian consumers are most conscious about their environmental footprint and are making the most sustainable choices.
Sustainable practices have been part of India’s culture and lifestyle. It is one of the least wasteful countries of the world. If right policies and resources are available, a large positive change is possible.
An opportunity to take the conversation further and bring a change
Bengaluru is hosting World Green Infrastructure Conference (WGIC), a one of its kind conference in the field of sustainability and green infrastructure.
The conference brings together expert speakers and researchers from around the world to share their knowledge and experience on sustainable practices. Topics like the development of Green Roofs, Vertical Gardening, Urban Agriculture, Sustainable Green City Planning, Water Sensitive Urban Design, Policies, and more will be covered during this three-day long event.
The event will be an opportunity to discuss the problems in the field and understand the solutions and success stories from the world.
Prominent personalities in the field like Patrick Blanc, the pioneer in the field of modern vertical gardening; Manfred Kohler, president of World Green Infrastructure Network, Steven Peck, founder and president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), Dhiru Thadani, green architect, will be present at the conference.
WGIC 2018 endeavours to empower every attendee with the latest technologies, developments and offer plausible solutions for important environmental issues.
To know all about the event, check out their website.
When: June 4th to June 6th, 2018
Where: The Lalit Ashok, Bengaluru
To register click here
Featured image: Afforestt