Unplanned development, rampant destruction of forests and poor urban planning — these are some of the reasons cited by environmentalists for the destruction taking place in Uttarakhand.
Shift to Gurgaon and one can see it has a similar list of woes. The only difference is that an urban disaster is yet to take place here. For a city that aims to become India’s Singapore by 2021, its infrastructure and urban planning are shockingly poor. One only has to step out to discover roads with potholes, chaotic traffic, missing streetlights and absence of public transport.
This disconnect between luxury and reality is best highlighted by the development agenda that Gurgaon has followed since the late 90s. A building boom in any upcoming city would have had to adhere to a local master plan. In Gurgaon, that was not the case — there was no municipality and any other form of local government other than panchayats. Thus, development was undertaken by developers while infrastructure was supposed to be built by the Huda. It is this mismanagement that made Gurgaon dysfunctional.
While Uttarakhand may be witnessing nature’s fury in the form of excessive rain, Gurgaon is sitting on the threshold of a water crisis: its groundwater is depleting rapidly and there is little rainwater harvesting. The poor sewage infrastructure ensures that houses and roads in most colonies become sewers whenever it rains. A survey of groundwater had warned that untreated sewage flowing in open drains was causing deterioration of groundwater quality.
Today, Gurgaon is a city that represents what growth can do and is also a warning what poor urban management can to. Even as it tries to make amends, Gurgaon is a picture of what lack of adequate political and bureaucratic will can lead to.
(The writer is the chairman of Skoch Group and a resident of Sushant Lok)