Unfurling the city of Howrah - Question of Contextuality

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Submission Summary
Howrah, unlike Kolkata, has seen industrialisation for the past 200 years ever since the British rule. With time, though many of these industries faced closure, the land occupied by the industries continued to act as an inhibiting factor for the city's urbanization plan. The infrastructure built by the British did not witness any development in years and has now become outdated and unutilized. To tackle the growing need of land resources, cities are opting for newer growth centres, ancillary cities and towns, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) by having lesser insight about what the city wants and what are the upcoming challenges to cater to these needs. As no two cities are alike their past and the predicted future, a city must be developed as an exclusive, self-dependent entity which can take care of itself depending upon how adaptable it is to the emerging challenges. Here sensitisation of issues assumes significance while embarking upon planning a city. To get better cities, one has to learn from the mistakes, limitations or ill effects that other cities have faced or are facing or going to face in future. A city with a healthy and functioning gut with fewer threats to deal is considered a healthy and environmentally sound city. One such example in Kolkata is the Dhapa Dumping Grounds and the East Kolkata Wetlands, both are under growing threats of the environmentally insensitive and wrongly planned development. These developments are to come up through reclamation of land in areas falling within the EKW and Dhapa Grounds, directly affecting the city's capacity of the nature-propelled waste management process. Each city has its own way of nature propelled waste management which has developed parallel to the growth of the city to cope with the ecological and environmental needs of the city. The city and these processes work hand in hand to get the balance needed for a greener and healthier city. Howrah has the inherent advantages of having biodiversity parks, a network of water bodies, Botanical Gardens and Santragachi Jheel which are inherent to the city's core. That calls for more environmentally sensitive development plans and land-use policies. These areas too are facing neglect and are exposed to the threat that is faced by the Wetlands of Kolkata. The growth that Howrah witnessed was private sponsored residential developments which tried replacing the slums and shanty areas, but such top-down approaches make it even worse at the ground zero level, as the growth opportunities pooled in local developers. Their role hinged on converting existing temporary built forms into permanent structures which added to the already failing residential models. Over the years, it witnessed unorganised developments to cope with the large scale migration from neighbouring rural areas. Howrah met the inevitable fate of becoming a residential counterpart of Kolkata with the attendant limitations and emerging more as an outgrowth of Kolkata, even after occupying a more centralized and strategic location for large scale commercial and industrial developments which it witnessed during the larger part of the past 200 years of pre and post-independence period. It doesn’t take an eye of an expert, to look through the complexity of the cities and to plan a better development plan for the untouched industrial riverbanks of Howrah; Reinterpreting the existing 200-year-old riverbank road into an upcoming business/commercial corridor for the unhindered development of the industrial lands bounding it and also connecting it to nearby regional nodes of transport. The idea of repurposing the obsolete resources & its context towards better capitalization can be the mantra towards a better Howrah.
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1: Understanding Urban Metabolism
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