EDN-India Holds Forum on Green Space in Crowded Cities

India, the second most populous country in the world, has several cities where the pressure of population and construction has resulted in very little green cover. Kolkata is one of these cities. On December 5, Earth Day Network – India, in collaboration with the American Center, Kolkata, and the NGO Center for Contemporary Communication (CCC) hosted a discussion on this topic called “Policies and Land Use for Public Parks and Gardens in Big Cities.” 

The Member, Mayor in Council, in his remarks, observed that Kolkata’s green cover was down to a mere 6 percent! In his keynote address, Prof. Rob Verchick from the Center for Environmental Law and Land Use, Loyola University, presented examples of ways to increase the green cover even in cities that are over-built and teeming with people. He discussed rooftop gardens, buildings that are specially designed to include green spaces, rail tracks, and more as examples.

The panel discussion was moderated by the founder of CCC, an organization that has made the effort to verify whether the parks and gardens listed with municipal authorities actually exist and, if so, in what condition.  (Earth Day Network is one of the partner organizations that helped put together the booklet that resulted from the CCC survey, which showed that a large majority of the parks and gardens listed are no longer green spaces; some spaces have been totally gobbled up by construction, while others are mere dumping grounds.) The very eminent panel included the head of a chamber of commerce and an environmental activist who is recognized as one of the leaders in filing public interest litigation to protect the environment.

The audience turnout was remarkable. It included councillors from several boroughs, NGO representatives, the media, and students who work through their school nature clubs to do their bit for the environment.

In her remarks, Karuna Singh, Country Director for Earth Day Network – India, spoke about the work EDN has already done to build awareness about the need to increase green cover, globally, nationally in India, and locally as well.