For over 15 years, Citizen Matters has been covering urban environments from a local, citizen-centric lens. The idea is to find answers to questions like: How real and palpable are environmental/climate risks for me? Is there something I can do to prevent or mitigate the effects? What should we collectively push for? And how can I help to bring this into the agenda for policy makers and decision makers to act?
Our job is to connect people who want better cities with knowledge and information they need to make it happen. We are grateful to the RainMatter Foundation for supporting this work.
In 2022-23, we published more than 150 articles - from stories of individuals and local communities to documenting the extent and nature of urban environmental threats.
We have also recently initiated the Citizen Journalism for Changemakers – CJC Programme. The online programme is meant for citizen journalists and those interested in becoming one. It includes learning sessions and master classes. Participants are mentored to write stories, sharing their learning and personal experiences on civic topics. They gain both systems knowledge and practical skills to help them in civic problem solving, and weaving narratives around the realities, challenges, opportunities and solutions in their communities.
If you’d like to be part of this programme, you can express your interest here: Citizen Journalism for Changemakers (CJC) Programme
If you have any stories to share of local environmental issues and solutions, click here: https://citizenmatters.in/submit
Here are some recent environment stories published in Citizen Matters.
The fisherfolk of Hanuman Koliwada in Uran, India are struggling without land or livelihood due to the destruction of their fishing areas by development projects. The Koli Community, which has a customary right to fish in the Uran Creek, has seen their traditional fishing practices and agriculture impacted by constant digging, dredging. Hanuman Koliwada, where the community was relocated by JNPT, lacks basic amenities and livelihood options. JNPT has proposed a new site for their relocation, but the community is demanding to be relocated to their original village site, which is unutilised and leased by JNPT. The community is fighting for their constitutional right to protect their cultural heritage and traditional fishing practices.
Uttarakhand, an Indian state lying in a highly sensitive seismic zone and characterised by problematic topography, is ill-prepared for a major natural disaster. Historically, the civilian administration has struggled to deal with such events, which only the National Disaster Relief Force, army, police and para-military can address. While the Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority has trained personnel up to village panchayat level, there is no special disaster plan for the region’s geographic and topographical conditions. The state is also seeing major road and construction projects, whose ecological effects have been repeatedly ignored.
A study by ActionAid Association has found that sewage treatment plants (STPs) managed by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) are failing to meet mandatory monitoring requirements with regard to treated water quality. The Central Pollution Control Board mandates that water quality must be monitored for seven parameters including the presence of bacteria such as faecal coliform, which BWSSB has failed to do. Treated water from some STPs is released into lakes in the area. Despite claims made by BWSSB that all lakes in Bengaluru will receive treated water by 2025, several lakes associated with poorly performing STPs have been classified as only fit for industrial and irrigation uses.
The lack of proper planning for stormwater drains in Bengaluru is increasing the risk of flooding in the city. This was highlighted during the August-September 2022 rainy season when thousands of houses were inundated due to heavy rainfall. The city’s haphazard growth, rampant construction on wetlands, and inadequate planning and governance have made it vulnerable to flooding. The loss of wetlands in the city has also contributed to the problem, and government bodies themselves have been found to be encroaching on water bodies and violating regulations.
The proposed construction of a four-lane flyover on Sankey Road in Bengaluru, India, has raised alarm among neighbourhood groups and NGOs who warn that the project would destroy over 50 heritage trees and harm the habitat of the area’s biodiversity. A report by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) notes that several species of insects and mammals have been spotted in a radius of about one kilometre around the proposed flyover. Citizens for Sankey, an advocacy group, surveyed residents in the area and found that 92% were against the project.
For other stories on the environment across the cities visit the following link.
About Citizen Matters
Citizen Matters serves as a knowledge exchange with insightful reports on critical urban issues, ideas and solutions for cities, diving deep into issues which affect our quality of life, including water, commute, public safety, air quality, governance, education, environment, local economy and more.
We bring together civic media, data and diverse voices to help citizens build sustainable, equitable and liveable cities.