Time to redesign urban spaces

Congested towns in Kodagu. (Photo: Hareesh K G)

By Hareesh K G

India is a country of hamlets with more than 60 percent of the geographical area consisting of villages. But the scenario is changing. As the migration towards cities is on a rise due to factors like employment and quality of life, urbanisation is gaining pace.

But the question is, are our cities scientifically planned? Cities and towns are expanding at an alarming pace. Factories are coming up, commercial buildings are being built by converting agricultural lands and the number of vehicles on roads are increasing by the day. Traffic gridlocks, air pollution, sewage issue, shortage of drinking water, increasing crime rate, and mushrooming slums are part of the growth curve.

Even the towns of Kodagu also facing many these issues, albeit in a smaller scale in comparison to big cities. The recent flooding in Kushalnagar was a result of houses being constructed near river banks. Every summer major towns in Kodagu face acute drinking water crisis. This has been happening for the last five years. Many water bodies are filled with filth while a few have vanished without a trace.

Added to this is the garbage issue in towns like Madikeri, Virajpet, Somwarpet, Kushalnagar and Gonikoppal. Bags of garbage dumped across main roads are a common sight these days. Although the district administration has envisaged some plans to segregate waste, nothing much is being done on the ground except for a few voluntary organisations doing their bit. Our river banks have become virtual dump yards for all kinds of waste.

Residential layouts are mushrooming at places which were once paddy fields. Developers are not considering the geography and sustainability of the district while creating layouts. As a result, low lying areas become vulnerable to floods in monsoon. Some light showers are enough to make septic tanks overflow at many newly created layouts.

The density of vehicles has increased over the years in Kodagu. It is a pain to get a parking slot in Madikeri during weekdays. In towns like Murnad, bikes, cars and jeeps are parked on both sides of the road hurting smooth movement of vehicles along the stretch.

We need planners who consider nuances of urban planning. Otherwise our towns will be chocked in the years to come.

(Hareesh K G is an Assistant Professor at First Grade College, Murnad, Kodagu.)

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