Wednesday, 22 July 2015



We Indians are traditionally known for living amidst the natural environment and learn to appreciate gifts of nature. That should be so even today, save the necessary alterations in the environment for our economic development, which of course is inevitable. But, we should not fail to realize the consequences of our activities on the delicately balanced eco-system. Before it becomes too late to restore, there should be an alternative technology developed through which the balance of the eco system could be maintained without any drastic changes.

Urban Environment:

Lack of infrastructure facilities and employment opportunities in the rural areas drive the people to the cities like Bangalore, where millions of them are already living in abysmal environments. As a consequence-

(1) The lung space within the cities and its surrounding areas will get affected.

(2) The cities get hotter due to the depletion of trees resulting in open spaces which lead to many side effects.

(3) Slums and squatter settlements are growing faster in the cities.

(4) Nearly 40% of India's urban population is living in a bad environment and have poor drinking water and sanitation.

(5) The city people are forced to live in a bad environment and have poor drinking water and sanitation.

Added to above, the cities have become unmanageable with uncontrolled pollution.

Therefore, environmental planning / landscape planning is essential to maintain breathable air quality and to live comfortably. The prescribed air quality standards as per National Standards and the European Union Countries standards is shown in Table-1. To achieve the air quality standards, robust planning and interventions are vital in order to maintain and monitor the breathable air quality and water quality which are in a jeopardy.

By altering Air Chemistry and Air Temperature due to cities' vehicular and industrial emissions, the following ill effects were highlighted by Mr. A. N. Yellappa Reddy in the Seminar, “Planning, Planting and Management of Trees in Urban Areas” held on 18th August 2004 at Bangalore.

Carbon Monoxide:

Nearly all of the global Carbon Monoxide (CO) pollution is caused by motor vehicles, as much as 82 per cent in major urban areas. About 67 million tonnes of odourless, colourless CO are emitted into the atmosphere each year in the United States of America.

Nitrogen Oxides:

Nitrogen Oxides - nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide contribute to the heavy brownish haze often seen over congested areas. Motor vehicles create about 43 per cent of the nitrogen oxides in the air.

Hydro Carbons:

Hydro Carbons (HC) are made up of a wide range of different hydrocarbon compounds. Most HCs in the atmosphere come from tailpipe emissions, but others come from the evaporation of gasoline during refuelling, gasoline leakage and poorly maintained fuel systems in order cars.

Carbon Dioxide:

During its lifetime, a car will emit Carbon dioxide (CO2) approximately equal to the car's weight. There is more CO2 in the atmosphere than any other emission mentioned here. Cars and trucks are responsible for about 20 percent of the total; the rest comes from power plants, industry and agriculture.

Sulphur dioxides

Cars and trucks add only a small amount of Sulphur dioxide (SO2) to the air. The rest are produced by the burning of high sulphur coal to generate electricity and other industrial processes.


Smoke, ash and other particles emitted from motor vehicles and industrial plants mix with dust blown up by the wind to make a particulate matter. Diesel engines consumes more fuel especially for transportation by trucks, buses and other heavy vehicles; whereas cars consumes less diesel.

CO2 in high concentrations in enclosed areas could cause death. In normal outside exposure, especially in cars stalled in heavy traffic could cause headaches and stress upon the heart. It interferes with the blood's ability to absorb oxygen, which results in the hampering of perception and thinking, slows reflexes and causes drowsiness. If inhaled by a pregnant woman, it may threaten the physical and mental development of the unborn baby.

NO2 could cause respiratory infections and lung diseases. They may also contribute to bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema and cancer. NO2 reacts with HC in combination with heat and sunlight to create another pollutant, ozone. Some hydrocarbons, such as benzene, are known to cause cancer. CO2 contributes to the green house effect. Many scientists think that too much CO2 is causing the Earth to heat up. SO2 can cause variety of human health problems. They also combine with moisture in the atmosphere to form acid rain, which damages lakes, forests and man made structures throughout North America and Europe.

In addition to the above, the ill effects from heavy metals are increasing in urban environment and the same is shown in the table 2.

The builders of Bangalore have fixed the ecological boundary perhaps after assessing its carrying capacity. They also took care to incorporate essential eco-components of tanks, percolation tanks, Ashwath Kattas and gundtopus (tree groves).

In the year 1862, the first Inspector General of Forest Dr. Brandis deputed an eminent forester to assess the forest and forest management practices of old Mysore State.

The expert after going around the forest submitted a report to Inspector General of Forest stating that the general public and the village communities are managing the life supporting resources very efficiently and there is more to learn from the community than to teach them about life supporting resource management practices. He had mentioned that the villagers have incorporated a spiritual components of Gramadevatha in the tree groves. He has reported that in 13,000 villages, there are 19,000 gundtopus.

This clearly indicates that the present Bangalore city encompassed over 800 villages and each village was fully equipped with all eco-components of tanks, percolation tanks, Ashwath Kattas and gundtopus.

These Ashwath Kattas and gundtopus were catering to the ecological services to harbour birds, bees etc., They were also catering to the medicinal services to treat humans / animals.

The Ashwath Kattas and gundtopus were performing the function of lungs and tanks, percolation tanks were performing the function of kidneys.

The Bangalore city retained all these eco-components and until 1970s, the city was a cool retreat because it retained the grandeur of hills, wetlands and various hydrological and ecological components. Every visitor as soon as he/she entered the city enjoyed a sweety breath.

In stark contrast to the 1970’s, one could see and visualize the power of steel, cement and chemicals. Virtually citizens are smelling chemicals, breathing chemicals, touching chemicals and the residential localities are surrounded by garbage dumps and sewage lines.

The city has become a heat bone with a large number of heat islands. In summer, it becomes a smoke chamber filled with unburnt hydrocarbons, carbon particulate matter, noxious SO2 and SO3 and also terrestrial ozone. To be precise, one can see relentless encounter between brute matter of toxic load of gaseous and particulate matter filled in the ambient air.

In order to meet the demands of the burgeoning Bangalore, the State Government on Wednesday approved the revised draft Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) for Bangalore Metropolitan Area (BMA) for the next 10 years. As per the draft plan, the green belt area would be reduced from the existing 742 to 494

Planning in an urban environment is essential, because there is no minimal protection to the victims of pollution in the law. And also the tragedy is that right to development have become right to pollute. As a result, Bangalore’s land mass is filling with garbage, people and vehicles; therefore planning is essential. In addition to above, Bangalore has become unmanageable with uncontrolled pollution. As a result, poor people have been marginalized with virtually half of the urban dwellers forced to live in appalling slums.

Concluding Remarks : 

World Environment Week is celebrated in the first week of June every year and the theme of the year 2005 is “Green Cities Plan for the Planet”!. We should not be satisfied with that. In fact, such communication media should continue until our entire population develops an environmental consciousness. We have an instinct to save and preserve properties for our children. Similarly, we should consider the “environment” as one of the invaluable “properties” which need to be restored for our future generation. To adopt such a principle, we should be aware of the consequences of our activities on the environment. Further, we should also develop a sense of responsibility. For instance, if we happen to see someone cutting the branch of a road side tree, we should give up the attitude like “it is the duty of the forest department to take care of those trees”, or “if I cut the other branch, will it not be profitable for me also……….?” Instead, we must assume the responsibility for the tree and stop it from being felled and report to the concerned authorities. Let us be optimistic, if every one of us develop such attitude, there will not be any disaster for the roadside trees and other common resources as well. By doing so, the dream of Green Cities may be realised and also a place for healthy living.

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