Keeping pace with unprecedented growth

Indore has been a consistent in developing into an optimum instance of urban development. The city, that is witnessing rapid pace of urbanisation while facing its impacts on the ecology within it, stands out in showcasing numerous urban initiatives

While the urbanisation has fueled economic growth, it has also resulted in a huge strain on existing physical infrastructure. The city of Indore, which has an unprecedented real estate boom is undergoing a profound change, but is still battling some impending civic issues. The city has indeed proven to stand alone and face the wave of changes and retain its structures intact in its urban design, policies and infrastructure projects.

Declared water deprived

As per a case study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Indore had been facing severe water scarcities for over two decades, with a steep dip in the rainfall. Compared to the region’s average annual rainfall of 1,092 mm, the city received only 517 mm of rain in 2008.

In 2011, for four months (from April to July) Indore was declared waterscarcity hit district due to potable water shortage and declined underground water table.

The city which serves as a hub of trade and commerce has a population of 1.83 million in 2001, which is expected to grow to more than 3.3 million by 2030 is located in a rainshadow area of Western Ghat. As per a city development plan report indicated that nearly 40 percent of the city populations are still deprived of tap water supply and have to depend on water tankers.

Indore is heavily dependent on the Narmada River (70 km away) for its water supply. Apart from the river the Bilawali and Limbodi water tanks, as well as from the Yashwant Sagar dam (the dam was built on the Gambhir river 20 km from the city) and a few local borewells.

Issues from Narmada

The Narmada river is the main source of water supply to Indore. Though the state government has been providing grants for the supply, there has been several challenges. For example, absence of water meters installed to keep a tab on the water being supplied, resulting in theft. Moreover the breakage and poor maintenance of the pipelines is another side of the coin that needs to be catered to.

The huge electricity cost for the Narmada water supply is also considered a big drawback.

Water tax tariff in Indore is said to be the highest in the state, as the huge power bills run up by the project in lifting water from the intake well, located over 70 km away from city.

In order to reduce the water treatment cost, the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) has thought of conserving forest cover and plantation on the bank of Narmada, the main source of water.

Speaking at an environment conservation seminar organized by Centre for Environment Protection Research and Development (CEPRD), chief conservator of forest (CCF) Pankaj Shrivastav informed that forest cover on Narmada bank from Omkareshwar to Mandaleshwar to Maheshwar will purify water and also help restrict flow of pollutants like soil particles, nitrogen and phosphorous into the river.

Managing solid waste, vital

Sewage, solid waste and storm water management seems to be a great challenge faced by the city. Being a flat terrain and poorly draining soils make it prone to flooding, which is exacerbated by an inefficient drainage system.

A study conducted by the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilence Network (ACCRN), uncollected solid waste is clogging about 200 km of natural drainage within the city.

As the city is battling with inadequate storage facility and mixing of different types of solid wastes are reported due to poor management of solid waste, as well as a lack of public participation and demand, the study indicates.

The city needs to think about sustainable solutions on solid waste, sewage and storm water management.

Indore Habitat Project

With a growing population, close to touching one million, the city’s slums are proliferating and the urban poor living in these faced the consequences of poor living conditions. It was in this scenario that the Indore Habitat Project was taken up in 1990, with the objective of reducing the serious deficit in urban shelter and services in Indore. The eight year project which was implemented in 183 slums demonstrated the potential of improvement of slums, rather than their clearance.

The major components of the project were infrastructure improvement, health care, and community development; community water supply, individual or community toilets, and paving of streets, street lighting and solid waste management. The focus on preventive health care environmental health awareness and primary health services was also a part of the project. Creation of neighbourhood groups, vocational training for women, adult literacy, pre-school and non-formal education, and development of community savings mechanisms formed an integral part of the community development component. The unique feature of the Indore project was the concept of Slum Networking as the approach to infrastructure provision.

Indore has all the charms of metro, amazing airline connectivity with the rest of the country, intricately and intelligently designed railway lines making it easily accessible and the state-of-the-art auto, taxi and bus system including 170 bus stations right in a city. With efforts on developing a new model for every state by the newly formed government, let us hope the vibrancy of the city is retained through viable solutions to the scarcity problems.

The success of BRTS corridor

Several cities in India are building or planning Bus Rapid Transit Systems (BRTS) as a strategic component of sustainable urban mobility development, but certain states experience like Delhi and Pune, had set back thinking on the attractiveness of BRTS. Indore stands apart and above, by being a leader among the 12 Indian cities currently developing BRTS under auspices of the MoUD.

Recently Urban Development ministry had announced a one-time-assistance under the JnNURM’s urban infrastructure and transport stimulus package for the purchase of buses for urban transport for all 63 mission cities. Indore was able to successfully secure funding for 170 new buses estimated at a total value of Rs.70 crores.

Including 170 new buses, out of which 20 low floor low entry air-conditioned buses, 30 low floor low entry regular buses and 120 semi low floor buses there is a potential to double the current ridership. As of April 2008, the ICTSL operated system carried 100,000 to 110,000 passengers per day.

Conserving water for slumdwellers

A collaborative project called Slum Environment and Sanitation Initiative (SESI) funded and technically supported by Water Aid India and UNHABITAT has been successfully implemented about households in 17 slums of Indore.

The project highlights that proper implementation could help slumdwellers with access to piped water and pit latrines. A survey conducted in 2006 that 72% of slum households in Indore did not have access to piped water supply from the IMC and they have to depend on standpipes, public borewells or wells and 4.7% from among these do not have access to even safe water sources.

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