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The bane of urbanisation: Bird’s eye view of cities

About 5 weeks ago, the ruling Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh got permission to continue building in the Dr. Ambedkar Park, in Noida.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2011 23:53 IST
Bharti Chaturvedi

About 5 weeks ago, the ruling Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh got permission to continue building in the Dr. Ambedkar Park, in Noida.

I went next door to the Okhla Bird Sanctuary, soon after and was disturbed by a droning, non-stop sound from the building site—that was likely travelling right to the water, where hundreds of migratory ducks dived into the deep waters.

Frankly, although I do not know the impact of this noise on various species of birds, I have to admit to unease.

We hear that cell phone towers could be responsible for the worldwide decline in sparrows. And just recently, the New York Times reported 4,000 blackbirds falling down dead in an Arkansas town, possibly shocked by celebratory fireworks.

I am sure the courts thought about this, but their judgment begets a larger question-are we pushing our urban wildlife too much into a corner?

The news is full of monkeys on a rampage and leopards finding their way into the urban periphery. Expanding urbanisation is not the only reason. It is also the pattern of our urbanisation.

There are no areas left intentionally as ‘wilderness’ in most urban plans. What we should push for is a conscious policy in our cities and towns of hospitality to wildlife, keeping the wilderness intact and infact, valuing it as much as other kinds of urban infrastructure. Urban India requires a whole new urban planning mentality.

Think Twice

It’s cold and many indoor spaces are heated. Overheated, I’d say, because there are so many heaters on, and for so long.

We don’t have to waste so much energy in making rooms warmer than they need to be. It’s infact, an irony, because this year’s severe winter could be on account of global warming trends. The thumb rule is this-if you can be in a room with only a shirt or kurta, then it is too warm. You should require at least a light sweater indoors. Anything less and you are using more energy that you need to.