Lutyens’ Delhi is a ‘parasite’ urban space: Sunita Narain

Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment.

Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Rich draw maximum water, says the environmentalist

Leading environmentalist Sunita Narain on Thursday dubbed Lutyens’ Delhi a “parasite” urban space, alleging the bungalow zone, housing the “rich” and the influential, “draws more water” and jettisons its waste outside the prime land.

In an interactive session, ‘Citification of Bharat: Emerging Nightmares or Exciting Opportunities’ at an event held here, the Director-General of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) claimed that the richer the city was becoming, the “less liveable” it was turning into.

Speaking in the presence of Union Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri, Ms. Narain said there was need to have a discussion on the “form of urban governance” the city required.

‘Quality of life’

“I know the garbage figure and the pollution figure [for Delhi]. The liveability index of the city is going down. The richer the city is getting, the less liveable it is becoming in terms of health indicators and liveability, which you would define as a quality of life in a city,” she said.

Ms. Narain also claimed that clean and green spaces of Lutyens’ Delhi, comparable to some of the best urban zones in the western world, had insulated its residents from realising the “urban mess” that the city of Delhi or any other part of India is in.

Okhla landfill

“So if one talks of Lutyens’ Delhi, it is one part of Delhi which is a complete parasite, living off on every other part of the city. It has a huge amount of land yet it doesn’t deal with its waste, which goes to the Okhla landfill site. It draws more water per capita than any other part of the city,” she alleged.

“And, it is so green, so clean, that no one who is living here [Lutyens’ Delhi] believes that Delhi or any other part of India is in the urban mess that we are in,” she said.

And, that is the part of the “divide that we are beginning to see”, the environmentalist said.

The CSE Director-General also emphasised the need to “devolve more powers” to the local government in tackling urban issues like waste management.

She also said that while there has been an understanding of rural development in India, it has “not been so on the pattern of urban development in a country, where affordable growth translates into sustainable growth”.

Air pollution

Ms. Narain cited the example of air pollution to buttress her point, saying that for sustainability, one needs to get public transport at a scale where everybody can use it. Today only 15% of the people in Delhi own or drive a car and yet it is congested and polluted, she said.

She added that affordable energy is going to be “critical” in getting people the right to clean air.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 12:17:36 AM |

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