5 Things About Urban Living That Confuse The Common Man Utterly
Most of us have left our homes towns for big cities to pursue higher education. These are also the places where most of the jobs are. So those who studied here would stick with the big city probably for their lifetimes. Those who did not study here would also at some point move to these growth centres to find employment. Cities, as they put it, are the very future of our country. We do stare at the future and wonder about its many charms. However, this is not at all to suggest that we do not stare at it and get extremely confused, too. Simple questions that come in the mind of a common man are actually ginormous challenges glaring at urban planners and authorities.
Question number 1
It is fashionable to use terms such as vertical vengeance these days when one speaks of urban planning. In case your show you non-familiarity with such terms, you run the risk of getting pooh-poohed and tch-tched in public forums. But a common man looks at the imposing, grand and tall buildings, and thinks: How are they going to supply water to all these units in future when they are not able to supply enough water to existing buildings. This particular man would also wonder what would happen if case of a power outage. It would be such a task to go and down in your 14th-floor apartment in case the power is off and you have to take the stairs. Even if we try to convince this naïve gentleman that India produced enough energy to provide 24x7 power supply to all household, he would not look convinced. Even if the power goes off for an hour, riots are likely to run, will be his opinion on the subject.
Question number 2
But, more than the power and the water issue, this common man, who may not be familiar with modern ways of house building, is worried about the space riddle. He does a mental exercise. This street used to have 10 houses and handled a combined population of 50 people. How will this street be able to handle the burden if 50 more nits are built here and the number of people increases substantially? We would build flyovers, etc., to tackle traffic woes, but what would become of the pedestrians? There would hardly be any space for them to walk.
Question number 3
It has been some time and this gentleman has now saved some money. He plans to buy a house in the big city. However, his finances leave him only with options lying in the suburb. He is told they are affordable. He is also quite glad to know that in the coming five years he would enjoy a Metro connectivity. As it stands today, he will have to depend on his private vehicle to commute as complete reliance on public transport is not possible. Again a new question pops up in this man’s head ─ If I had to move to suburbs to buy a house, how can I be expected to own an automobile? Even if I can manage one for myself, I do not have the resource to provide other family members the luxury of having another automobile at their disposal. We are talking of affordable housing here. How is it affordable, anyway?
Question number 4
Slums are a common sight in big cities. This gentleman hopes authorities will soon be successful to move them away. He might be disappointed.
Those who slowly make their way into the mushrooming informal settlements of big cities are often farmers who got tired of making ends meet in their villages. They may also be workers who small jobs in their small cities did not pay them enough to be able to afford two square meals in a day. Their living conditions may break your heart, but they do not seem to be minding as long as they have work to do that pays them better than what they got earlier. Do urban resettlements plans involving slums not factor this in? Why would a slum dweller agree to leave his tiny-dingy residence in, say, Dharavi and settle in the periphery (in a bigger and better house, of course) when his job is here?
Question number 5
The previous question is pregnant with another question. As all of us move to cities, who will be responsible for farming? Where will the food come from? Well, this is not a question that would start bothering us any soon. Sixty per cent of India’s population still lives outside cities, and India produces enough grain to feed its entire population and export it, too. However, farmers do not have much incentive in staying in their villages and breaking a sweat to grow things. AS more and more of them come to cities in search of a better life, the cost of food may go up many fold in future.
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