Is Pune’s growth sustainable?

Shatakshi Gawade
Sunday, 11 March 2018

Samuchit Enviro Tech, a city-based NGO, is conducting workshops to understand what should guide urban development in India.

With the city growing by leaps and bounds, how would you judge whether Pune is a sustainable city? Pune is already being developed as a SMART city, but a wider framework exists under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for developing sustainable cities.

Goal 11 of the SDGs on sustainable cities defines targets by which a city can become inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. 

Samuchit Enviro Tech, a city-based NGO, is conducting a citywide exercise to understand what should guide urban development in India where cities are continuing to grow.

Through workshops with different groups of citizens, they are using the SDG 11 framework to find out what people feel about their city. 

The first workshop held in January saw participation from school and college students, social activists, homemakers, working professionals, and NGOs. The next workshop on March 9 was targeted at young entrepreneurs. This will be followed by more workshops in the span of the next three months. 

“The purpose of these workshops is two-fold: one is to educate people on SDG 11, and the other is to get people’s inputs into our process. Through this we are trying to come up with a plan to make Pune city sustainable by 2030,” says Dr Priyadarshini Karve, CEO of Samuchit Enviro Tech. The exercise is being conducted under the Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change. The same process is also being conducted in Vishakhapatnam.

At the workshop, Dr Karve talks about policy interventions on SDG 11. Next, Pournima Agarkar, a research assistant at the NGO, shares the status of Pune according to the benchmarks identified for Goal 11. Under target 11.1 on affordable housing for all, the only target for which there is a national indicator, where there should be zero slums, Pune has 40.38 per cent of its households living in slums. Furthermore, 100 per cent should get at least 20 litre/ person/ day (only drinking water). There is no data available for this parameter in Pune as there are no meters, observes Agarkar. For most other targets under Goal 11, Pune falls short. 

A student of sociology from S P Pune University, who was a participant at one of the workshops conducted in Indradhanush Terbi Loyi, says, “The outcomes and issues raised during the workshop shouldn’t be left unattended. We need more discussions on SDGs in our social circle. That said, having participants from diverse backgrounds, expertise and knowledge surely make the workshop stimulating.”

Agarkar remarks that when they conducted workshops with students, the students’ concern for the city’s development was clear but they were not able to articulate specific needs yet. “As for other citizens, we have noticed that they want holistic development, but even they can’t identify specifics,” she says.

Hence sharing information about Goal 11 becomes crucial. “The final purpose of the workshop is to understand what people envision for their city, with respect to Goal 11 of the SDGs.” 

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