Tuesday, February 1, 2011

 Uniquely Singapore !

I have affection for a great city.  I feel safe in the neighborhood of man, and enjoy the sweet security of the streets. ..Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Surely Mr. Henry must be referring to Singapore! A year back I had been invited to read my paper at Green Asia meet in
Singapore. It wasn't my first visit to the city but surely with the
environment back ground it looked more beautiful to me & a comparison
with our city is unavoidable.  Many of us know Singapore as a good holiday destination as well shopper’s paradise, fun & happening city & things like that. But how many know that the city is one of the pioneers in finest urban planning with balancing environment? Like any other country they too have problems arising urbanizing as well growing population. On the top of it they are an island & space is always a problem!
The conference was about urbanization in
the East Asian countries & the impact of environment it's causing on
the city life as well overall. During the sessions I get an opportunity to meet many people from the field & also to roam in & around Singapore, one of the most beautiful as well environment savvy metro of East Asia. With a population over 42million even they are also facing problems of traffic & energy. Also being an island in Hindi Ocean they don't have a permanent source of potable water & water is a scarce thing. Being an equatorial country though rains are all over the year yet increasing urbanization is a
looming threat on the greens. The topic of Singapore development is so vast that one can do PhD on the same! But we will focus a few where we in Pune city face similar problems & just keep crying & playing our favorite blame game over them!

A small example is the way they are dealing with the issues is the way
they dealt with debris of construction activity as well the excavated
stuff (multi storied basements parking is a common thing for the most
sky scrappers) & the dumping yards is a problem. What they did is,
they have made to dump the excavated stuff in the open spaces adjoin
to the buildings within the plot premise( like open spaces in our
layout, not to forget that club house & all other things are allowed at
podium or at terrace level) & retain it with proper walls & convert it
in to small hill garden. Hundreds of such hills island covered with
thick big trees is seen in between the tall buildings, is the effect.
Both purposes achieved, the excavated stuff taken care as well green
cover is maintained. And look at the debris dumping on whatever place we get here in Pune & the unofficial garbage yards they become later!

The funny part about environment is not just a technical thing; its
aesthetic looks as well the part of the culture of the city too. one of the  striking feature was no hoarding in haphazard way all along the streets which is a common scene for us & no mesh of cable TVs, Cell phone towers, Broad band cabling all over the sky line of the city. It feels so good to have a
look of the city without any such obstructing objects, there are huge
advertising hoardings but at fixed positions only. The way boards are all in similar fashion & not covered by any banner displaying some guy's birthday! The city was celebrating their independence festival but without cut outs of numbers of political/social images on them in all shapes & moods!

 The major problem most of the Metros are facing is from this
class of society which has money in their pockets & gives importance to
the wealthy life style where they think "if they can spend then why
not" type attitude. It reflects not just in spending valuable goods
but consumption of natural resources like water & energy. Most of the
electrical energy comes from burning of fossil fuels so a slightest
saving in power consumption is directly related to the conservation of
natural resources.

Water is a big issue as if you go below some 50' then the water becomes salty. Most of the water the country literally imports from their neighbor Malaysia! Though being equatorial country, rains is a daily routine & they have one of the best rain water conservation systems which are maintained at high priority. Every drop of rain water is collected with a net work of
open channels which are spread all along the roads, public areas. This
water is collected to pumping stations at regular interval & guided to
natural passages like river & streams.

The whole city is user friendly in terms of information of the
services the city offers right from metro to bus service to land marks
of the city. At every major square on main streets there is a booth of
Singapore Tourism with a person there for giving information about the
city as well distributing free city maps with locations of interests
mentioned. This is something which really makes a visitor to become
fond of the city. The local citizens also get benefited with the
facility as Singapore being a big Metro many don't know about all the
places in the city.

Seeing this I just keep on thinking what is going wrong with us and
where they are scoring above us! I think it's the accepting facts,
knowing what kind of result we want to achieve & adopting the remedies
at fast rate at which urbanization is growing, has made Singapore

Let's act & not just think friends, time is running out…..

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo_power Committee, Credai, Pune

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