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CITIES

Water and Carrying Capacity of a City: Delhi

Reference: Vikram Soni, Vol. 38, Issue No. 45, 08 Nov, 2003, Economic & Political Weekly

Depending on natural and strategic location the expansion of a city will be bound by some limits, which may be termed the carrying capacity of the city. A report of a study estimating available water resources for Delhi and the population that it can support.

As far as we know this is the first article that examines the carrying capacity of cities as they inflate beyond their limits, in particular, in their water demand. This is a looming problem for the uncontrolled growth of megacities in the developing world that needs urgent attention.

How Delhi can utilise Ola and Uber to cut traffic and pollution

Reference: Soni, V, Veena, A, 2017, 'How Delhi Can Utilize Ola And Uber To Cut Traffic and Pollution', Daily O 

The population of Delhi is almost 3 times its carrying capacity and pollution seems to be a problem that cannot be controlled. In this article we can understand how the use of cabs, especially shared cabs can be a solution to curb most of the pollution and one that minimises travel costs as compared to privately owned cars . The article considers pollution comprehensively and finds that exceeding the carrying capacity of the city by a factor of 3 makes it impossible to have good air.

Delhi-Mumbai Corridor

Reference: Khosla, R, Soni, V, 2010, 'Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor', Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 47, Issue No. 10

Coming out of a key recommendation of the McKinsey Global Institute report on India's urbanisation in the coming decades, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project envisages the establishment of several new cities, industrial nodes, ports, airports and high-speed rail and road lines over six states.

However, surprising for such reputed consultants, the project analysis relies on completely flawed data, on both groundwater and river water availability, in one of the most severe water-deficit regions of the world.

Natural Cities

Reference: Soni, V, Virmani, A, 2014, 'Natural Cities', Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 49, Issue No. 19

The article sets up a blueprint for cities based on their natural infastructure that can make them self-sustaining and minimally invasive. This article presents the idea of Natural cities as living entities that can be metabolic and homeostatic like a living organism or the planet. The cities are self sufficent on water, fruit, veggies and milk and regulate their temperature and minimise energy use and pollution providing an excellent quality of life.

Black Towns of the 21st Century India’s Urban Landscape

Reference: Khosla, R, 2017, 'Black towns of the 21st Century, India's Urban Landscape', Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 52, Issue No. 1

The new Indian urban landscape is being designed around grand concepts such as smart cities and export-oriented industrial corridors. In our desire to be global, we are emulating outdated models of urbanisation. Our cities remain dogged by a side by side landscape of poverty and the concentration of wealth. We need to search for a future that stems from our own capabilities and geographies.

An analysis of the water situation in Delhi that differs from the Government data.

Reference: Soni, V, Singh, D, 'Delhi's Water Budget: Consumption Discharge and Groundwater Withdrawal', Natural Heritage First

An analysis of Delhi's water situation highlighting differences with Government data

A proposal to list and preserve our valuable natural heritage as we preserve our built heritage

Reference: Soni, V & Manachanda, T, 'Integral Heritage', Natural Heritage First

A proposal to list and preserve our valuable natural heritage as we preserve our built heritage

Amaravati could become the prototype for building cities, says Vikram Soni

Reference: Desikan,S., 2017, 'Amravatti could become the prototype for building cities',The Hindu

Prof Vikram Soni
The Delhi-based conservationist on how non-invasive development models can change the face of India’s cities, new and old

Vikram Soni and Romi Khosla on Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor

Reference: Khosla, R & Soni, V, 2011, 'Vikram Soni and Romi Khosla on Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor', India Today

This piece analyses the DMIC project document which ignores the lack of both the ground water and river water for this region in Northwest India - the realities on the ground. The authors also suggest the setting up of an independent commission to monitor the outcome of this project.

Ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor may hit unforeseen block – an acute lack of water

Reference: Kumar,R., 2015, 'Ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor May Hit Unforeseen Block - An Acute Lack of Water, Scroll

The ambitious DMIC project envisages 24 cities to be built along the route along with manufacturing hubs. The key constraint is water, and such acquisition and construction is damaging ground water tables and healthy top soil. Such a project, without respecting the obvious limitations posed to it is already causing problems for local villagers, farming communities and the ecological balance of rivers.

‘Do not build Amaravati on Krishna river floodplains’

Reference: Rao, G.V., 2016,'Do Not Build Amravati on Krishna River Floodplains', The Hindu

The idea of a natural city is introduced as being one which can be self-sufficient in major respects including energy. Lessons from the Chandigarh urban planning experience have been incorporated into the design for Amravati. Farmers in the surrounding region are in favour of implementation of the plan.

Cities that provide quality of life will survive

Reference: Sarma, G.V.P., 2016,'Cities that provide quality of life will survive', The Hindu

Professor Soni sheds light on improving quality of life in Tier-II cities through better urban planning. In particular, he suggests the construction of mosaic style of alternating squares of construction and green space such as forests and orchards. The object behind this is to lower ambient temperature and pollution levels.

Build a sustainable natural city, environmentalists tell Naidu

Reference: 2016, 'Build a Sustainable Natural City : Experts tell Naidu', The Hans India

Vikram Soni expresses a new paradigm of city planning - moving away from the notion of a smart city to one which embodies a non-invasive ethos. The protection of the flood plains is recommened as the core of such a strategy.

IIC Quarterly Quality of Life Vikram Soni

Reference: Vikram Soni, 22 Jun 2017, The Statesman

To continue with discussions on Contemporary Urban Conundrum, IIC Quarterly, Winter-Spring 2016-17, one cannot but agree with Vikram Soni when he states, "Thus far we have identified progress with an increasingly devastating high standard of living." The city design he seems to have in mind would be low on consumption, but integrate living natural resources in an essential way into the scheme of living and yet provide an impeccable life.

Amaravati: Natural City

Reference: Vikram Soni, 5 Jul 2016, Issue

By Vikram Soni and Romi Khosla The natural City is a truly original idea for making cities self sustaining. Amaravati Natural City has the opportunity of being the first city on the ground, in the world, to realise this novel scheme. It will become a beacon for a sustainable future for a beleaguered planet and will radically alter the urbanisation scenario for the world. It will not only be a world class city but a trail blazer in a class of its own.

Changing the Metaphor to ‘Quality of Life’

Reference: Vikram Soni, CITIES : Changing the Metaphor to ‘Quality of Life’

If over a third of the living planet has been decommissioned by the affluent and conspicuous standard of living practised by  less than a billion people of the developed world, imagine what would happen if all six billion people on the planet were to rise to such living standards. If we accept the living planet cannot support such a  scenario, then where do we go from here?