This rapid development and widespread urban sprawl have drastically depleted green cover leading to habitat loss, increase pollution, and significantly impacting the quality of life of urban dwellers. Many Indian cities fall well below the standard of 9-meter square of green space per person,
Declining green spaces and rampant urbanization has also made cities more vulnerable to climate change. Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), are leading to an increase in the average surface temperature of our planet which in turn results in rising sea levels, a rising frequency of severe weather events, droughts, floods, forest fires, and declining biodiversity.
Social Forestry offers a unique solution to safeguard our planet, especially our choked cities. Urban trees have been known to significantly improve air quality by absorbing gaseous pollutants through leaf surfaces and intercepting particulate matter in the ambient air. Street trees in Bangalore for example, have been observed to reduce levels of suspended particulate matter and contributed to a 65% reduction in SO2 levels.
Trees also help in managing the local climate, for instance, transpiration of water through the leaves of a tree cools the local air temperature. A single tree can provide an air-conditioning efficiency of 20 kW by transpiring about 400 liters of water daily. Trees also provide cooling by providing shade, which lessens the opportunities for urban surfaces to absorb and radiate heat into the local area thereby helping to reduce the Urban Heat Effect.
The importance of improving the literacy rate in a region cannot be stressed enough, as education plays an essential role in both enhancing an individual’s livelihood and collectively boost the growth of the society where the highest percentage of literacy is obtained.
A well-supported, easily accessible education system is an efficient means to make people economically stable, enabling active participation in a country’s economic prosperity and cultural development. As a matter of fact, the success of a nation rests (to a large extent) in its ability to sharpen the skills and talents of its ever-growing population, especially when it mostly comprises of youths.
Several educational researchers across the globe have examined the contrast between rural and urban life scenarios. These studies also point out an academic edge that urban students have over their rural counterparts.
They have revealed that urban students often secure better grades than those students from rural regions. The factors that affect performance among rural students are lack of resources and limited opportunities available to them. On the other hand, the outstanding performance of urban students can be associated with better academic infrastructure and access to a wider range of information available across digital platforms.
Since independence, the focus of public health has been on rural areas which are clearly reflected in the famous Joseph Bhore’s report in 1946. This resulted in the neglect of systematic planning for health care infrastructure and the delivery of comprehensive healthcare services for the urban population. There were sporadic and scanty efforts such as World Bank-funded India Population Projects. These were never planned to be sustainable and taken to scale.
The rapid increase in urban population due to migration stretched the infrastructure often moving the neo-migrants and the poor into unhygienic settlements and risky environments making them more vulnerable to diseases, increasing their need for healthcare which is neither within their reach nor affordable for them.
The fast pace of urbanization in India poses many important health challenges that require collective efforts and a multisectoral approach to deal with the situation. A growing proportion of urban poor and vulnerable population presents with many health and development indicators that are much worse than that of their rural counterparts. There is a strong need to set up a primary healthcare system that links the community with urban Primary Health Centre (PHCs), Community Health Centre (CHCs), and higher healthcare centers to deal with special healthcare challenges and special needs of the urban population. These are spelled out in terms of vector-borne diseases, noncommunicable diseases, especially diabetes, and hypertension that are aggravated by unhealthy lifestyles, air pollution, and road traffic accidents and injuries.
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