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अमृत की वर्षगांठ पर अमृत की खोज

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अमृत योजना के एक वर्ष कब बीत गये यह पता भी न चला यदि वर्षगांठ नही मनाया जाता तो यही लगता कि अभी तो शुरुआत ही नहीं है किन्तु भला हो वर्षगांठ समारोह का जिससे समय रहते पता चल गया, नगर निगम झांसी ने अमृत के एक वर्ष पुरे होने पर 25 जून को एक समारोह रखा जिसमें पर्यावरण पर विधार्थियों को निबन्ध तथा चित्रकला पर सम्मान्नित किया गया,पेयजल पर संक्षिप्त जानकारी हुयी,साथ ही स्मार्ट सिटी पर सम्बोधन किया गया,एंेसे कार्यक्रमों का आयोजन देष भर में कई स्थानों पर किया गया झांसी मे भी वर्षगांठ मनाया गया जिसमें अमृत के तहत पेयजल संकट से उबरने की कल्पना पर संक्षिप्त जानकारी हुई किन्तु इस जानकारी से परिणाम नहीं निकलते दिखे, बुन्देलखण्ड के षहरी क्षेत्रों व गंावों में लोग प्यासे ही रहे, धरती का अमृत अर्थात शुद्ध पानी अभी भी बहुत लोगों को मयस्सर नहीं अभी तो इस योजना के अन्र्तगत कई करोड़ का डी0पी0आर0 ही भारत सरकार के पास स्वीकृति हेतु गया है जिसमें झंासी के लोगों को पीने के पानी की ब्यवस्था के सपने जुड़े हैं।

1 जबकि इस गर्मी के मौसम में अनेक क्षेत्रों में लोग पानी के टैंकरों पर दिनभर अंाखे विछाये रहते हैं पानी का टैंकर कभी भी किसी भी समय आ सकता है और लोग सभी काम छोड़कर पानी इकठ्ठे करने में जुट जाते हैं। एंेसे समय मेंविभिन्न इलाकों के कई परिवार की नई बहुए अपने मायके और रिष्तेदारों के यहंा चले जाते है और बारिष होने पर वापस लौटते हैं ताकि पानी मिल सकें, आज बदलाव के दौर में विकास तेजी से हो रहा है शहर में गरीब परिवारों के घरों के नजदीक बड़ी- बड़ी बिल्डिगें बनने लगी हैं। इसी दौर से गुजर रहे पिछौर बस्ती के समीप तो नामी कान्सट्रक्षन कम्पनी अंसल समूह की आवासीय योजनायें पनप रही हैं और बडी बिल्डिगें बन गयी है जहंा आवास के साथ पानी ही पानी है किन्तु बगल में पिछौर वासी 65 घरों के लोग हाइवे पर तेज रफतार सरपट भागती गाडियों के बीच बच्चे,बुढ़े और घूंघट में महिलाये सिर पर पानी का इन्तजाम करके खुश हो लेती है। कुछ सदस्यों को इसी इन्तजाम में चोटें लगी गाड़ियो से टकराये भी और उपचार कराके पुनः उसी काम में लग गये।

दूसरा क्षेत्र करगुवां जो झांसी की शान बुन्देलखण्ड विष्वविघालय के पिछले हिस्से में बसा है वहंा भी लोग पेयजल के लिए टैंकरों पर निर्भर है जिसके आने का समय भी तय नहीं है लोग छोटे बडे़ सारे बर्तनों को तैयार करके रखते है,सोते जागते टैंकर ही दिखता है जिसमें अमृत रूपी पानी बन्द रहता है,नगर के एक और क्षेत्र भैरो खिड़की जो कि झंासी का पुराना क्षेत्र है गलियंा संकरी है घनी आबादी है वहंा भी लोग पानी के लिए दौड़ लगा रहे है बस्ती के दो हैण्ड पम्प बिगड़े है लोग मेयर व पार्शद से गुहार लगा रहे है,यंहा भी टैंकर आने लगा है लोगों ने डिब्बे जुटाना षुरू कर दिया ऐसी अनेको कहानियंा कई क्षेत्रों में है एंेसी हालत में लोगों को कुछ सूझता नहीं कोई भी उनके घर आता है किन्तु बहस पानी पर ही षुरू होती जिसका अन्त नहीं होता। इस बात पर हिन्दी कवि रहीम की एक लाइन याद आती हैं “रहिमन पानी राखिये,बिन पानी सब सून”आज इस क्षेत्र में पानी सिर्फ अमृत के समान ही नहीं है बल्कि लोगों के सम्मान पूर्वक जीने की भी बात है। सरकारी प्रयास जारी है जून माह में ही स्मार्ट सिटि अभियान में नागरिको के सुझाव लिये जा रहे थे जिनमे प्रथम स्थान पर पानी का ही मुद्दा छाया रहा लोगों को अमृत योजना से बहुत उम्मीदें हैं खासकर नगर निगम व अन्य हुक्मरानों को किन्तु असली जनता को तो अभी अमृत की तलाष है उन्हें तो पता ही नहीं कि कहंा,क्या और कब होना है ?

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Field Work – Initial Observations

Category: General
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Over the past few weeks I have been working on familiarizing myself with the European Union project titled ‘Strengthening Civil Society of the Urban Poor to Participate in Planning and Monitoring of Sanitation Services in Indian Cities’. Up until one week ago, most of my familiarizing was accomplished through reading various articles, proposals and other documents.

My transition into the field office has been a relatively smooth one – it has allowed me to observe the application and execution process of the project at the grass-roots level, and although the language barrier prevents me from drawing a clear understanding of the communication exchange at the community meetings, I am able to decipher the main themes of conversation with the translation help of my colleagues.

My first experience in the field introduced the realization of how similar, yet diverse each settlement under this project is – from my observations, the needs and demands of each community are dependent on a vast array of social, political, and economical factors. However, my limited time in the field thus far, combined with my inability to sufficiently communicate with the community members has limited my primary observations to include prominent surface-level themes. Therefore, I will focus this post on one particular factor that has stuck out to me, that is the location of the settlement. For example, I attended community meetings in two different notified settlements within Muzaffarpur in the same day, the first being in Police Line both side along Pusha Road, and the second in Noonfar Basti behind Tejpal Building. The first community is located near the outskirts of the city, and the other community is located in a heavily populated area within the city.

The former community in the Police Line both side along Pusha Road voiced their concerns for the road infrastructure leading to their homes – the roads are unpaved and therefore made their community difficult to access, especially during the monsoon season when the roads are virtually washed away. The same community also discussed concerns about clean water distribution, as the water pumps in the community are sparse and do not distribute clean water for drinking.

The concerns expressed by the community of Noonfar Basti were similar in that water distribution and road infrastructure were insufficient, however, the details of their problems differed from the previous community’s. The roadways and streets within the community are much too narrow, which makes any kind of mobility, whether on foot or on wheels, extremely difficult. Furthermore, the narrow streets are lined with a drainage system that consists of poorly maintained gutters filled with stagnant sewage water (see appendix A). The lack of space means that residents are living in close quarters with the contaminated water, which is a concerning health hazard for all residents of the community.

Appendix A

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As was the case in the first settlement, many members do not have free access to clean water – they must travel from their homes to either collect from a water post or purchase water jars (20 liters for the cost of approximately 25-30 INR). A few members have invested in purchasing a water connection to their home, however, the price of having this commodity is not fixed, and therefore some slum members are paying higher rates than their neighbours.
My observations barely scratch the surface of the underlying issues at hand, however, the importance of participatory research in addressing urban sanitation and any other issue that affects civil society has become increasingly evident to me. The individual experiences of people are the foundation upon which a society is built, and therefore determine the political, economical, and social success or failure of an area. The application of sanitation facilities in urban areas cannot be a one-size-fits-all project – what works for one community may not work for another. I have admired the way in which PRIA has recognized this fact and has worked on engaging with the communities within Muzaffarpur. The most important lesson that I have learned thus far is the value in being silent and listening to the voices of others (see appendix B).

Appendix B: Community meeting held in Police Line
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Sustainability of Smart Cities

Sustainability of Smart Cities

Category: General
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By Sakshi Saini, Senior Program Officer, PRIA

Living anywhere in the world has its own ups and downs, whether it’s a metropolitan city where we have infrastructure, opportunities, traffic, and stress, or a village, where there is no infrastructure, no traffic, but proximity to nature and environment. It depends on how and where we want to spend our lives. Development with technology is a very attractive phenomenon. It keeps us involved and busy with our lives, but has always struck with a direct effect on nature, environment and our health. Today, when nature is looking back at us with vengeance, we are coming up with innovative ideas for development that claim to least effect our environment with increased human comfort. Smart city is one such concept.

Let’s get to the definition and characteristics of a smart city, A smart city uses digital technologies to enhance performance and wellbeing, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens. It creates its own water source with the help of rain water harvesting techniques, electricity with the help of solar panels and windmills. Smart homes and smart offices will generate and use its own electricity, and will use smart technology and appliances that consume lesser electricity and are smart enough to automatically switch to power savings mode. With smart governance everything will be connected and can be monitored with the help of sensors and internet with the click of a mouse, thus saving a whole lot of human effort. People will use eco-friendly vehicles and public transport to commute. With innovations such as Smart Phones, GPS tracking, parking space locater, our transit systems will become more comfortable and reliable. The ultimate aim of a smart city is to make our lives more simple and our development more sustainable.

Now, imagine a Monday morning rush hour scenario outside your neighbourhood where all the traffic lights are green with a Boeing 777 waiting outside. Such was depicted in a famous Hollywood movie where a Firecell devastated the entire financial, transportation and defence systems of a whole country.

All these concepts of smart city look really tempting and promising on paper although there practicality and sustainability is questionable. History has shown that such ideas usually crumble beneath their own weight when abused by human nature and behaviour. With the ever increasing population and our growing dependence on technology, will such “smart” cities be able to provide infrastructure and resources as and where required, will the network bandwidth not choke with a majority of population online, will the government and utility systems not collapse as a result of vulnerable internet backbones, will the “Cloud” not burst under the weight of its own information are questions that remain unanswered.

These smart cities aren’t just some far off futuristic abstract twinkling in the New World Order’s eyes, these are being built as you read this paper. Think privacy and freedom are limited commodities now? Try having either of those things living in a smart city control grid where everything you do is tracked, traced, chipped and monitored. There isn’t enough manmade global warming hoax propaganda and green guilt in the whole wide universe that should make any of us want to step one foot into this Orwellian nightmare!

Think about those dumb down brain dead citizens trapped in a smart city producing stuff that is not required or Robots doing your daily household with power sources capable of auto-generation and protocols that can be changed with a laptop. Compassion lives or dies in human heart. Compassion can’t be forced. Yes, we are interconnected naturally but I don’t think that we can compare that given interconnectedness to a man-made technological “smart” connection of all things and humans because the man-made one reduces you to the level of a machine. Machines don’t have a soul, feelings, intuitions, can’t be compassionate, can’t pray and can’t be aware of signs and miracles. Machines are dead matter which process information. I could be wrong but prevention is better than cure.

I write to explore the solutions by going back to our roots and traditional know how. This indigenous knowledge has helped our human race sustain for ages. Smart cities will be smart only when people learn to live peacefully, with limited resources and live in harmony with nature. In order to do so, there is an imperative need to enhance capacity of people not only in terms of technology but awareness and knowledge about the burgeoning issues pertaining to sustainable development.

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Congress launches 24-hour helpline for slumdwellers

Congress launches 24-hour helpline for slumdwellers

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The Delhi Congress has decided to follow the do-or-die mantra of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi after he said on Thursday that he will stand in front of bulldozers if anyone tries to demolish slums without giving the slumdwellers their due.
The party has launched a helpline for the slumdwellers who have been removed illegally or have received notices to vacate their huts. The 24-hour helpline will help the party in tackling the issue. People who need help on the matter can contact +91 8595595595.

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Smart Cities – Convergence of design and governance

Smart Cities – Convergence of design and governance

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Renowned architect Rem Koolhaas recently spoke about Smart Cities and reflected on how more than ever do we need to converge the field of design with good governance! He argued against smart cites at a High Level Group meeting on Smart Cities, Brussels, on September 24, 2014. Summed up, Koolhaas argues that “by calling it smart, our city is condemned to being stupid.”

Highlights of the transcript of a talk given at the High Level Group meeting on Smart Cities, Brussels, 24 September 2014 is below. Read the full article at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/en/content/my-thoughts-smart-city-rem-koolhaas (more…)

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Urban Age conference  gives a wake up call to Delhi!

Urban Age conference gives a wake up call to Delhi!

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Over 60 experts and policy-makers from 22 cities across 10 countries gathered here to explore the links between urban governance and the future development of cities at the 13th Urban Age conference that began on Friday. The experts compared Delhi’s urban dynamics to other Urban Age cities — London, Bogota, Lagos, Tokyo, New York, Istanbul and Berlin.

They found that despite the Capital’s relatively low-rise urban landscape, it has an extremely high average density of build up area, nearly twice the levels of the New York metro area and Tokyo. As a result, Delhi only has two square metres of green space per person, significantly lower than London (36 sq metres) and Berlin (39 sq metres). This increases the challenge of tackling Delhi’s average PM10 pollution levels, which are significantly higher than other Urban Age cities.

Delhi, like other cities in rapidly growing economies, has a high level of income inequality (measured by the GINI Index — the lower the value, the greater the level of social equality; and vice versa). While London has an index of 0.36 and Berlin 0.29, Delhi has a relatively high figure of 0.6, which is lower than Lagos at 0.64 and many African and Latin American cities. However, Delhi scores well in having a very low level of violent crime measured by the murder rate (homicides per 1,00,000 people), which is lower than New York and Istanbul.

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Protest against Ward Committee and Area Sabha Act and Rules-Wed,26th Nov,10.30AM-1PM, Town Hall,Bengaluru

Protest against Ward Committee and Area Sabha Act and Rules-Wed,26th Nov,10.30AM-1PM, Town Hall,Bengaluru

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by CIVIC, Bengaluru

A CALL FOR PEOPLE’S GOVERNANCE IN KARNATAKA’S CITIES
Protest against the KMC (Amdt.) Act and newly gazetted rules on Ward Committees & Area Sabhas led by respected Gandhian & Freedom Fighter Sri H. S. Doreswamy
Venue: Town Hall, Bangalore
Date & Time: Wednesday, 26th November 2014, 10:30 am – 1pm

The 74th Constitutional Amendment, promising devolution of powers in urban areas, was enacted over 20 years ago. Yet ‘Nagara Swaraj’ is a far dream, with even community participation in urban affairs yet to be achieved. Karnataka’s urban citizens have no say in how government services should be provided in their ward, which roads should be repaired, how lakes should be protected or even how their garbage should be managed! The unconstitutional manner in which cities are being administered has resulted in multiple scams, mis-governance and dysfunctional cities.

It was hoped that the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Act of January 2011, brought in to fulfil conditionality under JNNURM, would strengthen community participation in urban areas. However, rules were framed for the Act only after the High Court Directive in December 2012 (while hearing a PIL on the garbage crisis). These rules created ward committees in name only without any real powers. Pressure from civil society led to a public meeting where the government was advised to re-draft the KMC Act itself, as is being done with the Panchayati Raj Act in Karnataka. Shri. Vinay Kumar Sorake, Hon’ble Minister for Urban Development, gave assurances at this meeting that the undemocratic aspects of the Act, such as the veto power for Corporators, would be addressed. Following this, numerous meetings were held with the Secretary, Urban Development, and recommendations were sent in from across the state to revise the rules so that the functioning of ward committees could be improved within the ambit of the Act. (more…)

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Higher, higher we will climb

Higher, higher we will climb

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by Swathi Subramaniam, PRIA

It is an uncommon sight to find a youth living in a high-rise building mingling and interacting with youth living in slums. On 13 November 2014, an attempt was made in B5 Bandhu Camp of VasantKunj, to bring together youth of community and youth of slum to talk to each other.

The Enact us society from SRCC, Delhi University works on social projects through implementation of sustainable livelihood solutions for slums and marginalized, http://www.enactusindia.org/index.php.

This was the very first time where a visit was made by undergraduate students studying in SRCC made an effort to meet the youth in Bandhu Camp B-5 slum. This interaction gave a first time exposure to youths living in the community to share their problems with the youth of their own age from a premier college of Delhi. (more…)

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Panel discussion: India in Future and Book Launch – 11 November, Delhi

Panel discussion: India in Future and Book Launch – 11 November, Delhi

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Swachh Bharat Abhiyan -drive could well go down the drain!

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan -drive could well go down the drain!

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by Nitya Jacob, The Hindustan Times

The pendulum has swung towards the sanitation extreme under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Water is the forgotten piece of the sanitation puzzle, one without which the great Indian leap into the toilet can possibly come undone. Indians wash up after defecating and most also wash their hands with ash, mud or soap. At a conservative estimate open defecation needs about a litre of water for ablutions. Toilet defecation raises that to at least three litres.
Defecating in the open may not entail an additional burden on water providers, ie, women, using toilets will. They have to fetch water from the nearest source. In rural India, with the exception of the privileged 14% who get water in their houses, the rest have to fetch it from distances varying from 25m to 250m. These 86% are officially considered to have access to water have the availability, at 40 litres per capita per day, within a distance of 100m.
The access, yield and quality of a source decline rapidly after installation, creating a category of habitations called partly covered (33.9% of the total). According to a World Bank study indicated for handpumps, the difference between design and output of water from handpumps was about 10%. In the case of piped water schemes 30% households do not get water daily. Piped water schemes are most prone to breakdowns on account of high running costs, a lack of trained people to run them, a lack of a revenue model, lack of electricity, drying up of sources and poor planning.
To use a toilet daily, a family of five will need an additional 15 litres of water daily. In addition to mode of supply, water sources are under pressure. About 80% of water for human use comes from underground. Over the past three decades, groundwater has become increasingly scarce with the rapid expansion of groundwater-fed agriculture. Dug wells and handpumps that use shallow aquifers are the first to go, followed by tubewells for drinking water. Of the 7,928 blocks in the country, the Central Groundwater Board has classified about 14% as over-exploited or dark zones.
Added to the scarcity is the quality aspect. Natural and anthropogenic pollutants affect a significant percentage of groundwater. Add to this the problem of unregulated toilet construction. Norms require a minimum distance of 10m between a toilet and water source but this is never followed.
One is to build toilets that do not need water for flushing but safely separate excreta from human beings. These also separate the solids from the liquids and converts them into manure. These toilets can now be made for around Rs. 12,000, the amount of subsidy the government provides under the new sanitation campaign. The second is to ensure faecal containment that is the bare minimum that can be done to remove open defecation.
To succeed, the sanitation campaign has to be executed as part of a larger water cycle. The purpose is to improve health but without ensuring adequacy of water for ablutions, and safety of water from pollution, the cycle will not be complete. The toilets may well be constructed but Swachh Bharat will become another failed mission.

Nitya Jacob is head of policy, WaterAid India
The views expressed by the author are personal

– See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/analysis/this-drive-could-well-go-down-the-drain/article1-1283708.aspx#sthash.B75iXQG1.dpuf

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