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What do you understand by “Urban commons”? Examine their importance in ensuring ‘Just and liveable cities’ to all in the urban areas.

Topic: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies..

1. What do you understand by “Urban commons”? Examine their importance in ensuring ‘Just and liveable cities’ to all in the urban areas. (250 words)

Reference: Down to earth

Why this question:

Urban commons represent those rare spaces in increasingly segregated cities where the rich and the poor can still meet, children of all classes play together and collaborations for conservation can occur. Yet, across cities the commons seem to be the most dispensable of spaces. Forests like Mumbai’s Aarey are threatened for infrastructure projects, wetlands in Thiruvananthapuram acquired for technoparks and trees in South Delhi felled to build apartments.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss the importance of urban commons and how they act as a nutritional buffer and safety net for migrants who flock to cities from distressed parts of the country as well as for other classes in the urban areas.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Give a definition of Urban commons with examples.

Body:

Discuss the importance of urban commons in urban areas

They act as a nutritional buffer and safety net for migrants who flock to cities from distressed parts of the country by providing them with wild plants, greens and brushwood, places to bathe, defecate, wash clothes and protection from winter nights.

The middle-class and wealthy residents of the city are no less dependent on the commons, though they may not recognise the extent of it.

Lakes, parks, wetlands, rivers and even roadside trees play a role in cleaning the air, raising groundwater levels and maintaining people’s physical and mental well-being.

Discuss about the various challenges faced by the urban commons and how we have failed in India to conserve the same

Forests like Mumbai’s Aarey are threatened for infrastructure projects, wetlands in Thiruvananthapuram acquired for technoparks and trees in South Delhi felled to build apartments..

smart city plans and restoration projects take an approach that de-commonises the commons by evicting people who depend on them most.

Beach sides, river fronts, lakes and parks become gated spaces, accessible only to those who can pay, and available only for recreational use, often coupled with “entertainment” in the form of flashing lights, loud music and food courts that evict wildlife.

What measures are needed to tackle it?

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward about how Our cities can hold out any promise of a better future only if the commons play a central role in urban planning