HON MENTION: Delhi Manifests

September 2014

Sep 15, 2014 1:20 PM
by Aclife -  |  1 Comment

SYMBIOTIC CITYA symbiotic city is a city that has reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationships with it’s macro and micro ecosystems. It produces ecosystem services that are equal and greater than it’s net use of those services. The transition to a symbiotic city required a cultural recognition that we are embedded in and dependent upon our ecosystems. A symbiotic city maximizes biodiversity, optimizes economic development and enhances quality of life.

Definition given by: Symbiotic Cities Network

The above definition gives a crux idea of what is the vision of the Symbiotic Cities Network for a symbiotic city. This idea can be conceived to check the present reality of a city, know what could be the criteria’s to rank a city on a chart of symbiotic cities, also gives an intuition about the end point of a positive transformation. For example we can check a city on the basis of following points

  • Either city has a mutually beneficial relationships with it’s macro and micro ecosystems or not?
  • City produced ecosystem services are equal and greater than to it’s net use of those services or not?
  • What is the cultural and ecosystem recognition of city?
  • And a city can be said a symbiotic city only when city maximizes biodiversity, optimizes economic development and enhances quality of life.

Now it can be said, for transforming our cities from parasitic model to symbiotic model a correctly diagnose of the current situation of a city is mandatory. To find out the solutions, it is necessary to understand the different intricate aspects associated with the city in relation to it’s ecosystem, cultural and economic development. 

For this exercise we have set our agenda to find out the answers of following 5 key questions. Those are further incorporated in to subcategories as following. 


1. Why Delhi needs transformation?

  • City Reality check 1- (Macro and Micro ecosystems of Delhi )
  • City Reality check 2- (City produced ecosystem services)
  • City Reality check 3- (quality of life within city)
  • Conclusion 1

2.What is Vision of a symbiotic city in Indian/ Delhi context?

  • Vision of Delhi Government
  • Initiatives by Delhi for Delhi

3.Finalization of a strong statement about the transformation of Delhi.


4.What should be the focused end point to convert a vision of symbiotic city, Delhi in reality?

5.What are the strategies to achieve the target?




The year 1991 was a watermark in modern history of India. This year marked a shift in public policy from protectionism to liberalization. Doors were thrown open for the private sector and multinationals, with which Delhi became the center point for the investment.  It was the face of the industrial evolution of the city. More and more industries were established to increase the productivity and employment opportunities. Industrial revolution was nothing but the introduction of technology for mass production.  To use the technology a mass number or labor were required and this void was filled by the rural poor who migrated from village to city in search of livelihood. They had lack of resources to establish themselves in a faster growing city so they used locally available material at a higher rate. Later on this migrated population of labor class came out as BPL (Billow poverty line) society in city. On the other hand the life style of the affluent people is dominated by consumerism. Affluent people become more and more aggressive to adopt western life style.

According to the Economic Survey of Delhi (2012-13), The total area of NCT Delhi is 1484 Sq.km. with the rapid pace of urbanization; landscape of Delhi has undergone a change from majority of rural area to urban. The rural- urban areas changes during the last three census is Delhi are as follows:


Despite of urban growth the rate of growth of population in Delhi during the last decade was higher than the national level by 3.32 per cent. Delhi accounts about 0.05 per cent of the india’s geographical area but consists 1.38 percent of the nation’s population.



CITY REALITY CHECK 1- (Macro and Micro ecosystems of Delhi)

Macro and micro ecosystem of a city is based on what are the natural resources available and demand and supply relationship of the natural resources according to the city requirements. The ecological model rests on an evolutionary, adaptive view of human beings in continuous interaction with their environment. 


Rapid rise in population and speedy economic development also raised the concern for the environment degradation. The economics of environmental pollution, depletion and degradation of resources did not get as much attention as compared to the issues of growth and development (Delhi Economic Survey 2012-13). As a result there is continues degradation in environmental quality of city.

Noise Pollution

Delhi witnesses excessive noise on account of large number of vehicles of all sorts including those who come from other areas where CNG is not the fuel, construction activities, diesel generating sets etc. Use of high sound loudspeakers during festivals and many social gatherings in public place directly increase the noise pollution in the affected areas.

Water Pollution

The 48 kilometer stretch of the Yamuna River in Delhi is highly polluted due to the flow of untreated sewage and also the discharge of inadequate treated industrial effluents. Water quality monitoring results of the drains indicate that most of the drains are not meeting the standards with respect to Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS). As sewerage system is not provided in unplanned habitats, the waste water generated in unplanned area is discharged into drains. Non-utilization of installed capacity (512.4 MGD) of sewage Treatment Plants is another important issue. Delhi Jal Board has prepared a plan to provide sewage facilities in unauthorized colonies which are now regularized. This will however be subjected to feasibility. Decentralized system of water treatment is the possible solution to this problem.

Air Pollution

The number of vehicles registered in Delhi has increased from 24.32 lakh in 1994-95 to more than 74 lakh in march 2012. The highest increase observed in taxis at 416.47 per cent from 13511 in 2004-05 to 6978 in 2011-12. During the same period, the percentage of increase was observed in cars and jeep, motor cycles and scooters, auto rickshaws, buses and goods vehicles at 63.67 percent, 63.30 per cent, 64.37 per cent, 164.21 per cent and 62.35 per cent respectively. This has automatically enhanced the pollution levels of Delhi by the emission of pollutants by these vehicles.














Solid waste Pollution

As per the data available with DPCC records, solid waste generation Delhi was around 8500 TPD. This is slated to increase due to economic and population growth. 500-600 MGD sewage is also generated, which generates organic sludge. 


CITY REALITY CHECK 2- (City Produced Ecosystem Services)

Agriculture and Rural Development

Ever increasing urbanization in Delhi is leading to diminishing rural areas. Further very fast growth of service sector is making agriculture and rural economic activities less attractive. As a result, the contribution of agriculture and allied activities in the Gross State Domestic Product at current prices in Delhi declined from 1.09 per cent in 2004-05 to 0.87 per cent in 2011-12. As per census of 2011, rural population in Delhi was 4.19 lakh (2.50 percent of the total population of 167.53 laks). Around 25per cent of the total area of NCT, as per 2011 census, was in rural and the remaining 75 percent in urban. The number of rural villages in Delhi reduced from 214 in 1981 to 112 in 2011.

Employment and Unemployment

As per Census 1991, population of Delhi was 94.21 lakh. In 2001 census, the population of Delhi increased to the level of 138.50 lakh which indicate the fact that on an average, population of Delhi increased at 4.7 per cent per annum during 1991-2001. During the same period the proportion of working population to the total population in Delhi increased at the rate of 1.19 per cent.


It may be inferred from above graph that one third of the total population in Delhi was taking care of remaining two third of the population. It is generally called dependency burden of the working class. 



CITY REALITY CHECK 3- (Quality Of Life Within City)

Poverty line

Poverty is the situation where the individual or communities lack the resources, ability and environment to meet the basic needs of life. Poverty is one of the issues, attracting the attention of sociologists, economists, government, civil society organizations and almost all other organizations related to human welfare and development. It indicates a status wherein a person fails to maintain a living standard adequate for a comfortable lifestyle.

National Sample Survey Organization’s 61st Round estimated that 22.93 lakh persons in Delhi were below the poverty line during the year 2004. Of this 97.3 per cent of them were in urban areas of Delhi. 


A movie on Sadar Bajar which is one of the most busiest market place of Delhi depicting how to people are engaged in a number of work to earn their daily livelihood 


Delhi Urbanization accompanies economic development. As city moves from being primarily agrarian economies to industrial and service sectors, they also urbanize. This is because city provides the agglomerations that the industrial and service sectors need. Delhi is at a point of transition where the pace of urbanization will speed up. It is for this reason that we need to plan our city well and cannot wait any longer to do so. The relatively low base allows us to plan our urbanization strategy in the right direction by taking advantage of the latest developments in technology.

Delhi has contributed a higher share in GDP of country also at the same time responsible for the high rate of migration from rural area to urban area. Due to industrial revolution employment opportunities has been increase but still not sufficient for the increasing population. A great concern is required for environmental issues otherwise because of continuous marred of ecological system and degradation in quality of life could create worse scenarios. 


What is Vision of a symbiotic city in Indian/ Delhi context?

The term development itself is a biological term. The biological meaning of development is a “process of growth” or in other words a gradual unfolding process supported by scrupulous involvement of each and every minute pre-existing substance by which anything is developed.

Through above biological definitions of development it can be easily understood that for a development that could sustain for a long life an indigenous fervor is necessary it can’t be an eclectic idea. So now it is required to know what is the vision of those who drive the city Delhi, those are the most significant, essential or can be said a genes for a symbiotic city. 


Indian government has recently generated a new wave of developing smart cities. The idea of these visionary cities has been presented as following.

“As the fruits of development reach an increasingly large number of people, the pace of migration from the rural areas to the cities is increasing. A neo middle class is emerging which has the aspiration of better living standards. Unless, new cities are developed to accommodate the burgeoning number of people, the exisitng cities would soon become unlivable. "The Prime Minister has a vision of developing ‘one hundred Smart Cities’, as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernising the existing mid-sized cities.”

What is a smart city?

Smart Cities are those which have smart (intelligent) physical, social, institutional and economic infrastructure.It is expected that such a Smart City will generate options for a common man to pursue his/her livelihood and interests meaningfully. In this context:

Competitiveness refers to a city’s ability to create employment opportunities, attract investments and people. The ease of being able to do business and the quality of life it offers determines its competitiveness.

Sustainability includes social sustainability, environmental sustainability and financial sustainability.

Quality of Life includes safety and security, inclusiveness, entertainment, ease of seeking and obtaining public services, cost efficient healthcare, quality education, and opportunities for participation in governance.



The capital of India, the symbol of sovereignty of India ,the den of India Gate, Parliament House, Red Fort and many such historic institutions and monuments of our national importance; “Delhi” has surely been gifted with an added privilege. But, needless to mention, privileges do come with their repercussions. Even Delhi has failed to escape those and has been struggling for over decades now with issues starting from the ever-increasing migration, leading to uncontrolled urban sprawl to the declining ecological balance of the city. Among the others, issues of water-logging, waste disposal, traffic congestion and parking issues, etc. have depleted the basic standard of living of the localities and has portrayed a degraded image of the city to the nation.

The city’s present scenario has made both the government and citizens realise the importance and necessity of community involvement in areas like water management, energy conservation, waste management, etc.

Over the past recent years, steps like citizen-government partnership programs have not only scaled up the involvement of the citizens but has even lead to an improved government responsiveness. Attempts are made to resolve issues hampering the growth of the city.

The present article showcases a few instances where the citizens have come up with solutions or schemes which could in future provide a model for helping Delhi become an ideal city…

  • The citizens of New Delhi, recently inaugurated the weekly car-free event with a motive to improve the air quality and promote sustainable active transport. Under this event, activities like yoga, cycling, dancing, etc. were organized to help citizens reclaim their streets and bring physical activity back into their day.


People doing yoga on busy vehicle road of Cannaught Place, Delhi
Source: http://www.embarq.org/sites/default/files/styles/featured/public/Raahgiri-Delhi-1140x518.jpg?itok=hs4UvOwB

Two men take a break during a yoga class on the usually busy inner circle road of Connaught Place in New Delhi, on a day called Raahgiri Day, which is a car-free citizen initiative. (Enrico Fabian/For The Washington Post)

Hundreds of people dance to modern Hindi pop music played at one of the main stages in Connaught Place. (Enrico Fabian/For The Washington Post)


Women from the Central Reserve Police demonstrate self-defense methods on one of the stages during Raahgiri day in Connaught Place. (Enrico Fabian)

A boy jumps on a pogo stick on the usually busy inner circle road of Connaught Place in New Delhi. (Enrico Fabian)

  • With, reaching the zenith of pollution levels to now running with 160,000 vehicles on CNG, Delhi has surely focused on zero-carbon approach. The introduction of metros, CNG- autos and buses as public mode of transport has not only made travelling convenient but has also contributed in curbing of pollution levels.


                                                                                                         CNG based transport in Delhi

  • Concerning the environmental issues, campaigns to plant samplings throughout the city have helped generate public awareness and has even encouraged community involvement to a greater extent. Infact, Delhi has now become the only city in the country which has developed 42 city forests.


Plant sampling on Delhi Van Mahotsav

Source: delhigreens.com
  • To counteract the energy crises, efforts are made to incorporate alternate energy sources. People are encouraged to incorporate solar energy alternatives for a cheaper and reliable source.







Polices interventions For: More employment opportunities in satellite towns or village 

                                         Maximum use of zero-carbon technologies
                                         Segregation of dry and wet waste
                                         Public awareness programs for waste management
                                         Appropriate technologies to be used for treatment of waste 

                                         Maximum use of public transport
                                         Maximum use of zero-carbon emitting fuels

Planning For:                   Put in place an effective waste collection and disposal system

Design For :                     Conversion of over size dumping  site into agriculture lands through appropriate technologies

                                         More pedestrian friendly roads
                                         Different types of road sections for better mobility



Strategies to various issues

Mahatma Gandhi frequently pointed out “Gramin Swaraj is the pathway to Purna Swaraj”. Also while addressing some young students who wanted to serve rural India, he made the following observation about eighty years ago.

“The fact is the villagers have lost all hope. They suspect that every stranger’s hand is at their throats and that he goes to them only to exploit them. The divorce between intellect and labour has paralyzed our agriculture, the worker should enter villages full of love and hope, feeling sure that where men and women labour unintelligently and remain unemployed half the year round, and combining labour with intelligence cannot fail to win the confidence of the villagers.”


An approach for the Regeneration of the livelihood in Rural area 



Delhi, which is the largest municipal solid waste producer in the country, generates over 7,000 metric tonnes of solid wastes every day followed by Mumbai with 6,500 tonnes.Growing by heaps and mounds, Delhi’s garbage crisis may soon reach its breaking point.By 2020, the Capital needs an additional area of 28 sqkm, to dump 15,000 tonnes of garbage daily.


SOURCE : http://www.hindustantimes.com/news-feed/chunk-ht-ui-indiasectionpage-htfordelhi/delhi-may-drown-in-its-own-waste/article1-1052381.aspx

People in Delhi are also bitterly opposed to new landfills coming up in their neighbourhood as they have seen the authorities did not maintain the past ones scientifically, turning them into massive, polluting heaps. The black thick liquid, leachate, created when rainwater filters down through the landfill, has made the soil highly toxic. Rainwater runoff goes into surface water drains while methane poisons the air.

For a rational planning of a comprehensive strategy to cope up with this problem,assessment of total sewage generation,its collection,treatment and disposal is essential.

Land being scarce in Delhi, volume of such huge quantity of waste would lead to mounds of monstrous filth causing environmental and health problems.                                                     


           SOURCE: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2571042/Delhi-drowns-waste-High-Court-panel-calls-aggressive-solution-solve-Capitals-alarming-litter-problem.html

What’s the way out?

The need to understand community participation and community based environmental management initiatives have been addressed for several years now.public participation is equally important as the role of the government bodies to improve the present scenario.

Some of the easy RECOMMENDATIONS to counter the issue of solid waste management involve:

  •  The municipalities have to work more effectively by increasing the capacity of waste treated & collected on daily basis by strengthening the partnerships with PPP projects
  • Working with the informal sector would increase the efficiency and coverage of the waste  management process across the initiatives.
  • Reducing the amount of garbage tipped in the landfills should be regulated by checking that the waste has been strictly passed through segregation and treatment process to reduce the carbon foot print and pollution of the environment.
  • As the society is susceptible to throw the garbage anywhere unthinkably,many public dustbins should be placed at 10 mtrs distance, educating the citizens about the civic sense and hygiene is important. Most importantly public areas like vegetable and meat markets.
  • Collection of garbage from source and segregation of garbage from source so that the quality of garbage procured for recycling is good.As the waste gets more contaminated or decomposed for days the treatment of the garbage for recycling gets ineffective and difficult.

(Integral Review - A Journal of Management, Vol.5 No.2, Dec.-2012)


                                           SOURCE: http://www.hindustantimes.com/news-feed/chunk-ht-ui-indiasectionpage-htfordelhi/delhi-may-drown-in-its-own-waste/article1-1052381.aspx  



                                                                         SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BipNIixhTmU



Our cities are faced with rapid motorization. This has led to severe congestion, deteriorating air quality, increasing incidence of road accidents and a rapidly increasing energy bill. Walking and cycling have been rendered unsafe due to poor infrastructure and public transport has been inadequate. So far, urban transport planning has emphasized providing for the personal motor vehicle. Public transport systems have been planned in isolation with the result that a well integrated multi-modal system has not come up. This has resulted in high cost facilities not giving the outcomes that were sought

To counter the present scenario the transport system should emphasize on  walking, cycling and public transport as the primary means for mobility with personal motor vehicles being actively discouraged. In fact, smart cities lay considerable emphasis on the walkability in the city. The pedestrian is given a place of prominence as every trip has a leg that involves walking.

Hence, improved mobility will involve a three pronged approach whereby there are:
1. Improvements in public transport – metro rail, BRT, LRT, Monorail, etc
2. Improvments in infrastructrure of other motor vehicles – ring roads, bypasses, elevated roads, improvements in the existing road ways
3. Improvements in infrastructure for walking, cycling and waterways

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