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Unplanned urban expansion of Lucknow: A decaying city

TreeTake is a monthly bilingual colour magazine on environment that is fully committed to serving Mother Nature with well researched, interactive and engaging articles and lots of interesting info.

Unplanned urban expansion of Lucknow: A decaying city

The environmental disaster brought upon by encroaching upon the vast wetlands and associated green cover of trans-Gomti Lucknow is self-inflicted...

Unplanned urban expansion of Lucknow: A decaying city


We Asked: Do you think before undertaking any construction work that may endanger the local green cover and displace local fauna, including monkeys and birds, the authorities must seek public opinion?

Lucknow, once called Paris of the East has seen quite a lot of changes in a couple of decades. Looking into the history of urban expansion of the city, which is about 250 years old, shows us the rate of decay of the city, both qualitatively and quantitatively. It coincided with the shifting of the capital of the erstwhile Suba of Oudh from Faizabad to Lucknow in 1775, by Asaf-ud-Daula, the Nawab Wazir. The extent of Lucknow then was confined to the western parts, on the right/ south bank of the Gomti. Machchhi Bhawan, a fortress located exactly where the KGMU is today, was the seat of power fringed by settlements at Thakurganj, Chaupatiyan, and Chowk. As the city grew, the royal buildings were constructed on isolated - high grounds, along the right bank of Gomti, while the settlement of commoners extended to the south towards the cluster of water bodies around Moti Jheel in  Aishbagh. The old city of Lucknow was adorned by numerous gardens (bagh) and parks like Aishbagh, Charbagh, Alambagh, Qaisarbagh, etc. Thus, an abundant green cover was ensured. The land on the left bank of Gomati was relatively low-lying and mostly a wetland. It was not until 1814 that the settlements at Badshahnagar and Hyderabad were founded in the trans- Gomti area. The cis-Gomti area got developed in the 19th century, and was anyway deficient in natural green cover, with a single wetland around Moti Jheel (Aishbagh). The last seven decades have witnessed a phenomenal increase in the population density and subsequent radial growth of the city in NW (Hardoi), North (Sitapur), East (Ayodhya/ Faizabad), SE (Raebareli) and SW (Kanpur) directions. Instead of promoting satellite townships on these five arterial routes, we are taking Lucknow to those possible sites. The development in the trans-Gomti area has permanently destroyed the wetlands and the associated fauna and flora. The Reserve Forest at Kukrail is the only saving grace, for now. Such is the bane of contiguous urban expansion. The environmental disaster brought upon by encroaching upon the vast wetlands and associated green cover of trans-Gomti Lucknow is self-inflicted. The colossal concretization of the city has removed the green patches, which were so rampant across the city. At one time, there were 30 baghs (gardens) like Charbagh, Bulandbagh, Quaiserbagh, Khurshedbagh, etc. Most of these have become obscure now due to the development of colonies or other concrete structures. Under the present scenario, public reaction is required in order to safeguard the remaining minuscule open areas. Mass media-based campaigns can really sensitize the population in general because these green patches are the lifeline for the masses. Electronic and social media can be even more effective. - Shishir Shobhan Srivastava & Dr Vibhuti Rai, department of Geology, University Of Lucknow

Someone wants to talk to us… it’s a tree from the twenty-first century that has never utilized plastic or drained petrol or diesel from the Earth. It has no desire to become a social media influencer. It simply takes from Earth what is absolutely necessary for its growth and survival. But we humans gradually enslaved its habitat, the rainforest. We slaughter its forefathers in order to create a gray world for ourselves. We set up our electricity, water, housing, and agriculture and gathered fashion items from them in exchange. We forget that a green cover is home to thousands of big and little animals, insects, and birds that live in synergy with them. It is a market for a variety of products. It is also a world for a variety of little plants that thrive in the shadows of larger ones. Typically, such tree canopies retain enough moisture in the soil to sustain a good volume of subsurface water, which also delivers adequate water to lakes and ponds. On the other hand, it saves rivers from floods. In general, these jungles play an important part in global temperature regulation. When we discuss global warming or the greenhouse effect, we discover that these plants serve as a frontline warriors for Mother Nature’s survival. For us, they serve as a natural air conditioner. Even the dry leaves of plants supply critical nutrients to the soil, which biomagnifies and provides essential nutrients to humans through our food. When we tear down a green cover, we not only injure the ecosystem, but we also have long-term environmental and societal consequences. However, when such green covers are taken down for any form of urbanization or industrialization, public opinion remains non-existent. Most of the time, the public stays away from such circumstances, despite the fact that it is a critical issue to stimulate their opinion on this problem through various media and public platforms. An interactive social media group can re-energize the community in examining these critical issues, as we must evaluate what legacy we are leaving to future generations. A massive public outcry to save these green patches with Mass Communication through Media can perhaps change the scenario in this chaos of uprooting plants in order to install an industrial plant. Nature is crying and the tears of this cry would fall on us to destroy the civilization. It is the final clarion call to save the Earth! -Richa Mishra & Dr Vibhuti Rai, department of Geology, University of Lucknow

People in a democracy have a right to be heard. Vox Populi must not be restricted to political issues only but should be sought for every developmental issue, especially in matters which involve the well-being of the flora and fauna around humans. Every industry or developmental project will inflict some amount of harm to the immediate environment, and local flora and fauna suffer the most. Communities that live alongside the wildlife and have been dependent on them for sustenance for centuries and decades are the storehouse of knowledge with regards to the importance of the existence and continuance of local flora and fauna. They know exactly the heavy impact that will cause with the destruction that comes with large-scale development. Construction pollution will affect both humans and their surrounding lives. Any industry or developmental project will cause biodiversity loss and will lead to climate change. The homes of the wildlife will be uprooted, the green cover will be demolished and, as a result, wildlife will start straying into newly developed urban areas, causing them to be labelled as a “menace” or “nuisance”. Some species may evolve and adjust to their new surroundings, but overall, the decimation will prove to be damning to the area. Communities may come up with suggestions, borne out of natural wisdom, to weave development with green ideas that will minimise destructive effects. It is therefore of utmost importance that the voice of the local community as well as those who are authorities in subjects concerning any developmental issue, be heard and their suggestions deliberated upon. However, one needs to be careful in selecting the public for opinion. Careless or random selection of people, especially those with vested interests, will dilute the entire purpose of seeking public opinion.- Shakumtala Majumdar, president, Thane CPCA (Community for the Protection & Care of Animals)

In the relentless pursuit of progress and prosperity, we often witness a surge of construction projects in our midst. Among these ambitious endeavours, the government's smart city initiative is one of them. This is done on the name of urban development. However, in the race towards building smart cities, we unknowingly disregard the significance of green spaces. Regrettably, the first casualty of such development is often the reduction in green cover, rendering the concrete jungle devoid of the vibrant patches of nature it once hosted. Initially, the consequences may not be readily apparent, but over time, we begin to witness the silent decline of butterflies, birds, and even monkeys. It is then that we realize the profound impact of the eradication of local flora and the subsequent disturbance it wreaks upon the delicate balance of ecosystems. Alas, this disruption doesn't stop at the borders of the natural world; its repercussions extend to human life as well. Commercialized projects often dangle the promise of compensatory measures, assuring the planting of countless new trees. However, what remains glaringly overlooked is the well-being of these newly planted saplings. Are they thriving as promised? Moreover, we must pause and reflect on the crucial question of which trees are being felled and which are being planted. The ramifications of replacing native species with invasive varieties, at great cost, cannot be understated. By doing so, we inadvertently disrupt the very fabric of biodiversity, as the fauna depends on specific flora to thrive. Disturb the balance, and the entire ecosystem teeters on the edge. To ensure a harmonious coexistence of development and the natural world, it is imperative that the government engages in open discussions with local communities, environmental conservation societies, and local authorities before making any decisions. In doing so, a well-considered plan can be crafted and executed, one that safeguards biodiversity and ecosystems from the ravages of development. Let us not sacrifice our natural heritage in the name of progress, but rather embrace a path that nurtures both human advancement and the delicate web of life that sustains us all. – Dr Archana Shukla, conservationist & teacher, MP

विकास का समर्थन हम सब करते है, लेकिन जो  विकास हमारे पर्यावरण संसाधन को नष्ट कर दे एवं समूची मानव जीवन को खतरे में डाल दे यह विकास हमें स्वीकार नहीं। जंगल हमारी शोभा ही नहीं हमारे जीवन का प्रमुख आधार है। वन्य जीव उस समय तक जिंदा है जब तक जंगल सुरक्षित है। विकास कार्यों के नाम पर जंगलों को उजाड़ना एवं वन्यजीवों के अस्तित्व को खतरे में डालना उचित नहीं है। ऐसे विकास कार्यों को शुरू करने के पहले आबादी बस्ती के लोगों से सहमति प्राप्त करना, उनके विचारों एवं भावनाओं का सम्मान करते हुए नए निर्माण कार्य किया जाना चाहिए। ऐसे क्षेत्र  जहां पर्याप्त हरियाली है पेड़ पौधे हैं एवं जैव विविधता के अच्छे स्रोत हो उन स्थलों वह सुरक्षित  रखकर, उसके विकल्प में अन्य क्षेत्रों का चयन किया जाना चाहिए। मैं भारत सरकार से अपील करना चाहूंगा की पर्यावरण को सुरक्षित रखते हुए विकास कार्य करें। यदि हम जंगल ,पहाड़ एवं वन्यजीवों की उपेक्षा करते हुए विकास कार्यों को ही अपनी तरक्की की सीढ़ी समझने लगेंगे तो निश्चित रूप से आने वाले समय में पूरी मानवता जाति को इसकी भारी कीमत चुकानी पड़ेगी। - सतीश उपाध्याय, वरिष्ठ पर्यावरणविद, नेशनल ग्रीन को जिला एमसीबी मनेंद्रगढ़ छत्तीसगढ़
आज हम इस बात से इन्कार नहीं कर सकते कि मानव की प्रकृति प्रतिकूल गतिविधियों की वजह से हमारे धरती ग्रह की बहुमूल्य जैवविविधता खतरे में है। यदि जीव-जंतुओं के विनाश के कारणों की बात की जाये तो अब ये सर्वमान्य तथ्य बन चुका है कि प्राकृतिक आवासों का नष्ट होना जैवविविधता क्षरण का सबसे बड़ा कारण है। वैसे तो पर्यावास का विनाश ज्वालामुखी, वनाग्नि, भूकंप आदि प्राकृतिक कारणों से सतत होता रहता है लेकिन भौतिक सुखों की अंधी दौड़ में मानव ने सड़क, रेलमार्ग, बांध जैसी कृत्रिम संरचनाओं को बनाकर पर्यावास विखंडन की गति को बढ़ा दिया है। बुनियादी ढांचे के विकास के लिए व्यापक पैमाने पर जंगल काटे जा रहे हैं, आर्द्रभूमियों को पाटा जा रहा है और पहाड़ों को ढहाने की कोशिशें की जा रही हैं तथा इसका खामियाजा वन्यजीव, पक्षी, सरीसृप आदि विभिन्न प्राणी भुगत रहे हैं। गूलर, महुआ, पीपल, साल, जामुन आदि विशाल वृक्षों की कटाई से उन पर आश्रित जीव-जंतु अपने अस्तित्व के संकट से जूझ रहे हैं। यदि ध्यानपूर्वक गौर करें तो एक वृक्ष अपने आप में पूर्ण पारिस्थितिकी-तंत्र होता है जिसमें जीव-जंतु घोंसले बनाते हैं, प्रजनन करते हैं तथा आहार जुटाते हैं लेकिन जब ये वृक्ष मानवीय विकास की भेंट चढ़ जातें हैं तो उन पर आश्रित कई जीव नष्ट हो जाते हैं या फिर पलायन कर जाते हैं। किसी भी प्राकृतिक पर्यावास (हैबिटेट) के विनाश के चलते जीव प्रजातियों के लुप्त होने की संभावना बढ़ जाती है, भोजन की कमी से कई जीव-जंतु दम तोड़ देते हैं, भागने-छिपने की जगह के अभाव में कई प्राणी शिकारियों के चंगुल में फंस जाते हैं। बांध जैसे बड़े बड़े कृत्रिम जलाशयों के कारण नदियों का प्राकृतिक प्रवाह अवरुद्ध हो जाता है जिससे बाढ़ जैसे खतरे उत्पन्न होते हैं तथा कई जंतु एवं पौधें नष्ट हो जाते हैं। जंगलों की कटाई से जनजातीय समुदायों और ग्रामीण क्षेत्रों के निवासियों की आजीविका पर भी खतरा पैदा हो जाता है अतः आज जरूरत है कि सड़क एवं हाइवे जैसी परियोजनाओं के क्रियान्वयन के समय सरकारों को वहाँ की स्थानीय आबादी से विचार-विमर्श करना चाहिए। बिना जनभागीदारी और बिना प्रकृति से तालमेल बिठाये यदि सरकारी विकास किया जाता है तो ये तानाशाही ही होगी और इसे विकास नहीं बल्कि जानबूझकर मानव-जीवन को खतरे में डालना एवं पर्यावरणीय संकट को बढ़ावा देना ही कहा जायेगा। -हरेन्द्र श्रीवास्तव, पर्यावरण विशेषज्ञ, विन्ध्य इकोलॉजी एण्ड नेचुरल हिस्ट्री फांउडेशन, उत्तर प्रदेश
एक आंधी की तरह निर्माण कार्य प्रगति पर है जिसमे शहर के साथ ग्रामीण क्षेत्र भी शामिल है। मनुष्य के द्वारा किए जा रहे निर्माण का उपयोग कम और हवस ज्यादा है । अपना वर्चस्व दिखाने और विलासिता की पूर्ति के लिए ही 90ः मानव द्वारा अनुपयोगी निर्माण किए जा रहे है। सरकार द्वारा निर्माण के पूर्व कई नियम बनाए है जो कुछ पर्यावरण  के हित में है मगर 99ः नियम कागज में ही सिमट कर रह जाते है। जिस क्षेत्र में मानव निर्माण शुरू करता है उस क्षेत्र को पहले दिन से ही प्रदूषित और बंजर बनाना शुरू कर देता है । सुविधा और सौंदरियाकरण के चलते क्षेत्र को कंक्रीट का बनाता जाता है और आसपास की कई वनस्पति को साफ कर घास उगता है जिससे वहा रहने वाले जीव जंतु भी उस स्थान को स्वत ही छोड़ देते है। नियम बनाने वाले नियम का पालन करने वाले अधिकारी - किसी के भी निवास देखेंगे तो पाएंगे कि जरूरत 1000 वर्ग फीट की थी और निर्माण 10000 वर्ग फीट में किया हुआ है। आसपास सिर्फ सजावटी घास नजर आएगी । जब स्वयं अधिकारियों को ही पर्यावरण अनुकूल नियमो का महत्व नही पता तो आम आदमी को कैसे कोई समझा पाएगा। यदि जनता की राय लेना संभव न हो तो अधिकारियों को कम से कम उस क्षेत्र के पर्यावरणवादियों, शोधकर्ताओ और संरक्षणवादियों से परामर्श करना चाहिए। इन स्थितियों के कारण बेचारे बेजुबान जीव अपना आवास खोते जा रहे। उनके निवास का क्षेत्र फल कम होता जा रहा। सबसे बड़ी दुविधा तो यह है की आखिर किसके पास वक्त है इन बेजुबान और पर्यावरण पे हो रहे असर के बारे में सोचने का। - पुनीत उपाध्याय, अध्यक्ष, आइ र ई-जंगल नरसिंहगढ़-मध्य प्रदेश

Topic of the month: Do you know the world has lost 69% of forest land only because of cheating it away for agricultural purposes? Do you think artificial non indigenous agriculture like growing soybean and almond on much larger scale today mainly to satiate the vegan makes sense? You may send your views (either in Hindi or English) in 300 words at [email protected]. Please also attach a colour photo of yourself.


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