Its 6 am on a Sunday Morning, January 2018. I set out for my 5 K walk with a group of hikers in Hyderabad’s Financial district (15 KMs from the picturesque Hyderabad Golf Club)! The weather is a pleasant 60 degree Fahrenheit (16C). A heavy fog fills the air while the Sun is still abed.
As I cross the Wipro junction, I realize that I’ve been acquainted with this area for over a decade. I remember a time when I adored the adjoining village of Nanakramguda. Little quaint houses, simply dressed people, small dirt roads, cattle/poultry farms and a gigantic Baobab tree. Fascinating!
Since then, the neighborhood has been enveloped by building and development. Yet, several spaces of land existed with an abundance of plant and animal life. Monkeys, peacocks, buffaloes, bluebirds, parrots, pigs, red-winged bulbuls, snakes, hawks and many more! Enchanting!
I would smugly think to myself, “No Financial district in the world can claim a co-existence with such flora and fauna.” But, alas, it was not to be so!
Nanakramguda is now part of Hyderabad’s Financial District. Names such as Apple, Google and Amazon decorate the horizon. While trees are continuously being felled and oxygen sucked out of the air, construction fills the void and particulate-dust invades the lungs. Depressing!
As we trekkers trudge along,
Latha: Are you noticing the layer of smog over our heads?
Surabhi: Oh yeah! But, this is nothing! You should see cities like Delhi and Bangalore.
Latha: Well, it certainly looks like we are headed towards a similar fate? A future filled to the brink with Traffic jams, Smog, Water contamination, Noise pollution, Trash recklessness……… basically a lifestyle filled with toxicity!
Now, that would be a shame! The metropolitan of Hyderabad, today, is a genuine cosmopolitan. Residents hail from not just many parts of the diverse country, but from the world overseas. An experienced linguist would be very busy detecting accents of Bengal, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Patna, Lucknow, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, various parts of Europe, North America, Korea, Asia, Africa, South America, Middle East, etc. It’s really Impressive! People love Hyderabad for its glorious weather (through most of the year) and appreciate it for its affordable real estate.
Surabhi: You know, the last few weeks of November had been really delightful. The city never looked or felt better.
I couldn’t agree more. Hyderabad was proud to be the first city in all of South East Asia to host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, November 2017. The highlight of the summit was the theme itself. A tribute to women entrepreneurs! Residents of the city witnessed around-the-clock preparations to welcome delegates such as Ivanka Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is part of our Indian culture to clean and beautify our homes to welcome guests. And so, roads were laid and spruced, sidewalks defined and painted, construction halted, trees planted in dividers and roadsides. One couldn’t help appreciate the sudden burst of oxygen in the air and the enhancement of greenery to the ambience. And almost everyone enjoyed the increase in vigilance of traffic and parking regulations/restrictions. Very Encouraging!
I: I wish it could have continued being delightful. But, sadly, demolition has begun again.
Latha: Do you think, Hyderabad can be saved? We know what expansion has done to all the other cities. Vicious circles of environmental, health and societal damage!
I: I don’t know! The most basic requirement for survival, ‘Availability of Clean Air’, is clearly under attack.
Surabhi: But, there is some good news. The new Metro!!!
Latha: The Metro will certainly reduce air pollution to some extent, however it cannot remove pollution/carbon from the air.
Surabhi: True! What we desperately need are carbon-sinks. Carbon-sinks such as Parks, Gardens, Rivers, Lakes, etc….
A great leader in this sphere is Bhutan. It is not just carbon-neutral, in fact, it is carbon-negative. That means, the country not only produces more than enough oxygen for its people, but also absorbs the nation’s carbon-emissions as well as some of its neighbor’s. The Bhutanese accomplished this by adopting 2 basic systems:
1) Reduce carbon – Save rivers and lakes; Produce more electricity for substitution; Reduce consumption of paper and fuel;
2) Increase oxygen – Plant Trees, Build parks, Preserve forest and wild life.
Truth: Hyderabad is sinking!
While she doesn’t have enough trees to meet the oxygen requirements of the growing population, she watches helplessly as the existing foliage gets cut and replaced with carbon producing and oxygen requiring inhabitants.
Some of us shake our heads with scorn and wonder what the future holds, some live in blissful ignorance and the remaining minority tries to keep our ship afloat.
What we must understand is that it is not possible for one body to save a sinking ship. The captain, crew and passengers all need to work together to make a difference.
It is imperative that the entire lot of us step forward!
For starters, Heal our Air!
- Be aware: (i) Every breathing body needs 2-3 trees worth of oxygen for survival. If you factor in pollution/carbon-emissions and particulate-dust, this number increases;(ii) Every light-bulb, non-electric automotive, camp-fire, cigarette, etc., emits carbon;
- Act aware/be responsible: Plant trees in our homes, turn off unnecessary lights, use natural cleaning agents, quit smoking, etc;
- Spread and enforce awareness (talk and teach kids, elders, staff, etc);
- Help stop ‘Cutting-trees’ and Regulate them;
- Help save the rivers and lakes,
- Help/convince government and non-profit organisations infuse all neighborhoods with carbon-sinks such as trees, parks, gardens and water bodies.
What we do today determines our present and future! We must save Hyderabad! We must prevent Lung-cancer from infiltrating every household. We must create carbon-sinks to balance development and modernization. We must act!
Facts for thought:
|Trees/Square Feet required in Hyderabad|
|Total area: 650 Square Kilometer|
|Total estimated Population = 9.5 Million|
|Population Density = 14615 per Sq. Km|
|No of trees required by an average person = 2.5 trees|
|No of trees required in Hyderabad for effective oxygen consumption = 1 Tree per 27 Sq. Meters
(1 sq. km or 1Million sq. meter /(Population Density x No of trees required per person)