The population growth rate of humans in the world hit its highest in 1963, and the overall number of people on Earth has risen dramatically since then. The population of humans on Earth is estimated to be more than nine billion by 2050. This rise in population is likely to have some detrimental impacts on the climate. In reality, environmentalists contend that most, if not all, environmental challenges, ranging from species extinction to climate change, are the result of a large growth in the human population. Similarly, the surge in urban populations carries with it many environmental issues, such as pollution. This paper will take a look at some of the approaches that two major cities in the world, London and Delhi, have actually taken to improve their local environment. The factors that will be discussed in the paper are water pollution, air pollution, green spaces, and waste management.
Water pollution is one of the major local environmental issues facing both London and Delhi. Some of the causes of water pollution in both cities include rapid population growth, urbanization, and industrialization (Benna and Garba, 2016). Water-borne diseases are very common in areas that are affected by water pollution. Fifty years ago, River Thames in London was heavily polluted that it was even pronounced biologically dead. In the 1830s-1840s, thousands of individuals succumbed to cholera that was as a result of the Thames heavy pollution. Yamuna River, on the other hand, is considered as the most heavily polluted river in India, particularly around Delhi. Luckily, both cities have taken various approaches in dealing with this issue of water pollution.
In London, strict rules have been implemented to stop industries from releasing polluted effluent into the Thames together with its tributaries. London together with its neighbouring areas now treats their sewage before exporting it. Additionally, improvement changes are also being made to the smaller streams and rivers that drain their waters into the Thames. In Lewisham and Greenwich, thorough transformations are underway to re-naturalize the rivers that for several years have been flowing unnoticed beneath the people’s feet (Gray, 2010).
Authorities in both cities have also been actively involved in dealing with this water pollution menace. Back in 2014, Delhi’s government took on a sophisticated sewer project aimed at evaluating the pollution levels of Yamuna River. In addition, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has formulated a Sewerage Master Plan 2031, which entails laying sewerage systems in the areas that do not have any sewer lines. A sewer interceptor estimated to be 59 kilometres in length will be established along Delhi’s three main drains; Najafgarh, Shahdara, and supplementary. Sewage from approximately 1900 supplementary drains will be treated by this sewage interceptor before being directed to the closest sewerage treatment plant (Delhi Jal Board, 2014). In London, the Environmental Agency together with the local authorities along the River Thames has embarked on getting rid of most of the old concrete barriers that were used to contain the rivers. They are instead constructing mud banks and letting reed beds take hold. Rubble piles on the side assist in capturing sediments that offer a rich habitat for moluscs and invertebrates, which serve as food for other species. All these approaches by both cities are aimed at improving the quality of water.
Air pollution significantly contributes to several health conditions. Some of these conditions are very serious and could even lead to death. Some of causes of air pollution include emissions from cars and industrialization. Some effects on air pollution on the general population include; increased respiratory issues such as pneumonia and bronchitis, increased cases of kids with asthma, eye irritation, higher risks of lung cancer, and increased cases of allergies just to mention a few (Vallero, 2014). It has been estimated that air pollution reduces the life span of individuals across the European Union by an average of nine months. In Delhi, the smog levels in the air have risen to levels that are now considered to be life-threatening. Air pollution is clearly an environmental issue that needs to be addressed in both cities. Each of the cities has taken different approaches in tackling this issue.
Sadiq Khan, London’s Mayor, has made cleaning the city’s air one of his main priorities. He intends to have the city’s buses modernized; new city buses purchased after 2018 will be hydrogen or electric-powered. He is even trying influence other cities to take a similar approach. He is also pushing for the introduction of “ultra low emission zones” which should be in place by 2019. Only the ‘cleanest’ cars would have access to these zones. Additionally, apart from planting more and more trees, the city of London has also been investing and devoted to cycling projects for several years now. Mayor Khan has even suggested turning Oxford Street completely pedestrianized (Matters, n.d).
In Delhi, the Supreme Court of India and the state government have proposed several measures aimed at making sure that future generations are safe from the polluted air. Below are some of the measures:
The registrations of diesel cars that are above 2000cc and luxury SUVs in the capital have been barred by the Supreme Court. Diesel cars have been found to be a chief source of vehicular emissions.
The top court has commanded that each and every taxi working in Delhi should change to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) from next year in March. What’s more commercial cars that were registered prior to 2005 will not have access into the city.
Directions have by issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to all local authorities to firmly implement initial orders about fine on construction dust emissions and the ban on waste burning.
The National Green Tribunal has asked both the state and central government not to purchase diesel cars for its employees. It has also requested municipal bodies and departments of public administration to make efforts in the gradual eradication of diesel cars.
To provide alternative transport modes to the residents of the city.
Delhi’s government has inflicted an environment compensation fine of Rs 50,000 on 38 different major projects across Delhi for dust pollution (“The 10 steps aimed at curbing rising air pollution levels in Delhi”, 2015).
Even though both cities have taken different approaches in dealing with air pollution, all these strategies are aimed at achieving the same goal, which is improving the quality of air.
Green space refers to land that is partially or fully covered with grass, shrubs, trees, or other kinds of vegetation. They include community gardens and parks. Green spaces have remarkable benefits to the environment. They provide nice shade and reduce temperatures in the urban regions, they minimize soil erosion, and they filter pollutants from the air (Archer and Bezdency, 2016). The environmental significance of green spaces is something that cannot be overlooked. They should, therefore, be maintained at the highest standards possible.
Funding from charities has helped to enhance the quality of green parks. In London, funding from charities like the Heritage Lottery Fund has contributed 850 million pounds. Additionally, Park Trust for cities is also being promoted by National Trust. They maintain that Parks Trust would offer the parks management and finance them via a model of enterprise and endowment, thus creating a financial model that is sustainable founded on the importance of green spaces.
Delhi, on the other hand, has taken a different approach in improving its green spaces. The Greening Delhi Action Plan is normally launched annually to embark on additional plantation in the city. This has considerably increased the total region under green cover in Delhi (Anand, 2010). Moreover, to control environmental pollution and sustain ecological balance, Delhi’s development plans have allotted high priority to its afforestation programs. Various agencies have taken up plantation programs on both private and government land.
Waste management refers to actions and activities needed to manage waste right from its inception up to its final disposal (Chandra, 2015). If not properly managed, not only pollutes the environment but also creates major health concerns to the residents of such areas. It is for this reason that major cities in the world are investing a lot in proper waste management.
London and Delhi have assumed different approaches with regards to management. London is more focused on recycling its waste whilst Delhi is more focused on converting its waste to energy. In London, boroughs play a significant role in waste management. London’s Mayor published a Municipal Waste Management Strategy (MWMS) back in 2011, accompanied by a plan for its implementation. Boroughs, being the city’s waste authorities, are responsible for the strategy’s implementation.
Unlike London, Delhi is more focused on converting its waste to energy. Timarpur Okhla Municipal Solid Waste Management project, India’s very first commercial waste-to-energy facility, intends to convert a third of Delhi’s waste into electricity. This project is not only the first, but also the largest waste management project that has ever been set up in India that aims to achieve a sustainable solution (Zero Waste Concept) (“Timarpur-Okhla, Waste incineration project, India – Carbon Market Watch”, n.d.).
Both approaches, through different, aim for the same thing, which is improving waste management.
The rapid population growth rate in urban areas has without a doubt had some adverse effects on the environment. Not only has the increased in human population worsened air and pollution, but green spaces are also at risk of destruction and waste management is becoming a difficult issue to handle. Dealing with these issues is important in improving the local environment and this is exactly why cities such as London AND Delhi have stepped and are now making efforts to better their local environment. The local authorities in both cities are all actively involved in these efforts and great changes positive changes in the environment are already being noticed in these places. Other cities are also advised to take the necessary steps needed in improving their local environment. After all, a clean and well-maintained environment translates to a healthy population.
Anand, S. (2010). Solid waste management. New Delhi: Mittal Publications.
Archer, K. & Bezdecny, K. (2016). Handbook of cities and the environment. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Benna, U. & Garba, S. (2016). Population growth and rapid urbanization in the developing world. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
Chandra, R. (2015). Environmental waste management. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press LLC.
Delhi Jal Board. (2014). Sewerage Master Plan for Delhi-2031 (pp. 1-167). Retrieved from http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/file/Sewerage_Master_Plan%20for%20Delhi%202031.pdf
Gray, R. (2010). The clean up of the River Thames. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/wildlife/8059970/The-clean-up-of-the-River-Thames.html
Matters, T. Ultra Low Emission Zone. Transport for London. Retrieved 14 May 2017, from https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone
The 10 steps aimed at curbing rising air pollution levels in Delhi. (2015). The Indian Express. Retrieved 14 May 2017, from http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/the-steps-aimed-at-curbing-rising-air-pollution-levels-in-delhi/
Timarpur-Okhla, Waste incineration project, India – Carbon Market Watch. Carbonmarketwatch.org. Retrieved 14 May 2017, from http://carbonmarketwatch.org/campaigns-issues/timarpur-okhla-waste-incineration-project-india/
Vallero, D. (2014). Fundamentals of air pollution. Amsterdam: Academic Press.