Written by Pranavi Khaitan, a grade 12 student and senior editor at I Kid You Not.
“What is the city but the people” – William Shakespeare
For centuries, cities and people have shared a relationship of interdependence where the people build and shape the city and in turn the city shapes the people. Given the impact that a city can have, it is imperative not to take decisions regarding the design of the city casually. Our building and surroundings have been found to affect our mental as well as physical well- being, especially during this pandemic where we must constrain ourselves within a limited area (houses, colonies etc.). One feature that allows for stress release and overall mental enhancement are green spaces.
What are green spaces?
Green spaces are any vegetated land in an urban area like parks, gardens, playing fields, woods, green corridors etc.
Why do we need green spaces?
Green spaces aid in the improvement of environmental conditions in cities. They support water management and climate adaptation strategies to the extent that they can reduce the ambient temperatures of cities by one degree Celsius. Green spaces also play a major role when it comes to health. Danish Civil Regestration System researchers found that citizens who grew up with less green spaces near them had as much as 55% increased risk of developing disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse in later years. Additionally, a study in England found that the health effects of inequality are reduced in greener areas.
Unfortunately, the green space cover in many cities in India has been reduced due to development and construction ventures. As a result, several communities lack access to well- maintained green spaces.
Green open spaces in select Indian cities as per master plans
Source: Urban Green Guidelines, 2014, Town and Country Planning Organization, Government of India, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, India
A study conducted by V. Sathyakumar, Raaj Ramaskaran and Ronita Bardan compared the quality and quantity of green spaces to their socio- economic status in 88 census wards of Mumbai. They found that rich and poor sections did not experience any inequality in the amount of green space around them. However, the more prosperous areas had better quality and more accessible spaces. Mr. Ramaskaran said that the findings “call for overall greening of Mumbai with a focus on developing more parks in low income neighbourhoods.”
Given the benefits provided by green spaces, it is essential to ensure increased accessibility of good quality open space through urban planning and design.