The City

Flying over Doha in Qatar, one is immediately struck by the by contrast. Surrounded by Saharan dunes is a small patch of green and concrete. The overwhelming impression is one of fragility. The green is a man-made imposition supported at immense expense against a hostile environment.

Two views of Doha by plane

One would imagine the people living on such a precarious edge would be acutely aware of their limited resources. The facts tell a different story. Whereas the average Indian consumes 135 litres of water a day and the average Qatar citizen consumes 430 litres a day. Oil fuelled consumption has created a monster of unsustainability that has to be fed constantly.

Near Delhi, there is the township of Gurgaon. Entering it, one is struck by the number of sky scrapers and Fortune 500 company offices. The skyline is one that seems to dream of challenging Singapore. What one does not see is that the town has almost no sewage system. The city was entirely developed by private companies like DLF who focused on profit maximization at the expense of public infrastructure. Sewage is often dumped directly into the river.


For a city to be sustainable, it must look after 3 things:

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Waste Management

Gurgaon violates practically every principle of civic planning. Almost every building has an autonomous power supply fed by inefficient diesel generators which run at great expense and pollute the air.

As long as money flows and there are no checks, Gurgaon will continue to grow at the expense of its surroundings.

The problem is not privatization per se. It is the abdication off civic governance and responsibility. A BBC media unit that had obtained all necessary permits from the Government of India was stopped from recording in Gurgaon as they did not have permission from the PR department of DLF. Basic civil liberties have been sacrificed to unsustainable efficiency.



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