The Urban Conundrum - a discourse on sustainability in Gurgaon

Events Diary Dated:  May 16, 2014
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The “Urban Conundrum”- held at the ARTEMIS Hospital in Gurgaon, was an opportunity to address the issue of the rapid urbanization  of Gurgaon, demanding insights into making the rapid growth a sustainable one.

Organized by Gurgaon First, the event saw RWA’s, Urban Planners, environmentalists as well as the other stakeholders in Gurgaon, participate in an interactive discourse laregly led by the Municipal Commissioner for Gurgaon, Dr. Praveen Kumar. Dr. Kumar seemed to both share and redress Gurgaon’s grievances in some critical decisions, a result of some quick thinking on his feet.

In its first session, the discourse encountered the civic and infrastructural challenges that plague the city of Gurgaon or “The Gurgaon Conundrum”. Moderated by Shubhra Puri of Gurgaon First and Bhawani Shankar Tripathi, Founding Member, Mission Gurgaon Development, the discussion opened by Mr. R M Bharadwaj, senior scientist at the Central Pollution Control Board. Speaking about migration, increased pollution and sanitation, Mr. Bharadwaj concluded with a brief introduction about vertical planning as planning concepts for the city.

Dr. Himanshu Garg, head for the Respiratory Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Artemis, spoke next about the growing respiratory diseases in Gurgaon in the wake of its rapid urbanization. Dr. Garg enlightened audiences on medical concerns (wheezing etc) in younger aged people, as well as increased infant mortality rates, attributing them to the city’s increased dependency on motorized means of transport and increasing pollution levels.

Joining the discussion soon after, Dr. Praveen Kumar, described the improper management of waste and water in Gurgaon as major roadblocks in its road towards sustainable development. Discussing illegal water supply and electricity failure as root causes, Dr. Kumar spoke about the shortcomings of the systems in place for water management. The introduction of “Water Management Board” at a macro level and personal initiatives at a micro level were outlined. The gamut of waste management including the concepts of rag pickers and segregation of waste at source was also discussed at length.

Many insightful suggestions were swiftly incorporated as the discussion opened to its participants.

Speaking of the misuse of the earmarked Aravalli land in the hands of local planning agencies in Gurgaon, Environmental Analyst, Chetan went next to suggest the concept of “Conservation Reserves” in Gurgaon. The concept was swiftly incorporated by Dr. Kumar in the long term sustainability plans outlined for Gurgaon.

The second half was moderated by Niranjan Khatri, General Manager for Environmental Initiatives at ITC Hotels and Shubra Puri and began with a focus on the Options and Solutions to ensure a sustainable future, as briefly discussed in the first half.

The session saw Sanjay Seth, Chief Economist for the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, talk of the Energy Efficiency Code as a mandate for commercial buildings. The need for energy efficient residential buildings in design and function was pressed upon.

Furthur, Amit Bhatt, Strategy head for Urban Transport, Embarq India, spoke about the lack of pedestrian infrastructure in Gurgaon, going on to outline the key challenges in the current modal arrangement.

The event concluded with an exchange of ideas between the esteemed speakers and participants over high tea.

With over 70% infrastructure to develop in the coming 20 years, energy concerns are a pressing need of today and Urban Conundrum was a young effort by Gurgaon First to help people realize the same.

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