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Infra Talk: Weaving urban fabric with nature
A synergised effort must be initiated by town planners, the municipality and residents to restore green spaces to urban India.
In the pursuit of their development and urbanisation, cities are witnessing high-rise buildings replacing backyards, parks and forested areas. However, it is wrong to blame real estate developers and municipalities for this scenario. They are effectively reacting to the growing demand for such buildings from those whose evolving lifestyles focus more on work and post-work recreation.
It is true that there is a lot of awareness and concern about the need to re-establish a healthy environment, and healthier cities. However, it is also true that most real estate development taking place today is about amenities and facilities, and that any vegetation that is factored in is merely aesthetic and ornamental. Essentially, cities have gone from green to grey, and any new thinking about it and efforts towards reconnecting people to nature must indeed be trans-disciplinary and coordinated.
An experiment to achieve exactly that is reaping astounding results in cities like Singapore, where a natural ecosystem is being re-introduced into the urban fabric. It is astounding what such a vision of futuristic urbanisation can achieve. Clearly, concrete can coexist with abundant greenery and one must not necessarily negate the possibility of the other. However, it takes a magnificent town planning vision, coupled with a strong political will - and unswerving support from a city’s population.
As long as demand for homes is skewed only towards concrete buildings with modern amenities and token greenery, only such supply will follow. Increased demand for urban housing where natural environment is more than just a token gesture and, in fact, available to sufficient saturation to actually have an environmental impact, such supply will surely follow.
A city does not lose its ‘green’ identity overnight - in cities like Pune and Bangalore, the erosion of this identity took several decades. It will take a few more decades to bring it back, but it is possible if all stakeholders - from town planning and municipal authorities to real estate developers and buyers - decide that it is worth it and must be done.
Kishor Pate, CMD, Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd