Poor bear brunt of ecological degradation, says IIT professor
‘Long-term damage not measured in Aarey car shed plan’
Economically disadvantaged people are the worst hit during ecological degradation, Professor Shyam Asolekar from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, said on Tuesday. “Poor people get affected the most in whatever change that comes, we have seen (that) in our research,” Prof. Asolekar said, in an address to journalists at a workshop conducted by the Forum of Environmental Journalists in India.
Prof. Asolekar was on the technical committee to decide whether the car shed for Metro 3 should be at Aarey. He had given a dissenting note in his recommendation and at the workshop, said he stuck to his stand. Prof. Asolekar highlighted that episodic pollution like the ones caused by accidents were practically ignored and there was no measurement of the long-term damage done to the environment.
The theme of the workshop, hosted by the Mumbai Press Club, was ‘Urban Climate Resilience: Aarey and Mumbai City’.
Urban planner Hussain Indorewala said the current climate crisis was due to past emissions. The current infrastructure projects of the city, he said, did not seem to acknowledge the crisis or the rising water levels. Mr. Indorewala also spoke about the lack of sustainable mobility planning in the city with more focus being given to car-centric infrastructure such as roads.
Urban planner Sulakshana Mahajan said the word ‘smart’ was being used as it was catchy but it was more hype than reality. “Real-time data collection is a must. In 2021, we will do the Census and will get the data in 2025. What’s the use? By this time, the city has grown and changed,” she said.
She said urban planning involves problem solving at three levels: the neighbourhood, the city and the region. “The Metro is city-level infrastructure and not neighbourhood-level infrastructure. It will affect Girgaum and Aarey differently. Each locality has also to be understood in the context of the Metro,” she said.