Visitors to Agra often complain about the city’s poor traffic management system. Severe traffic congestions on the main as well as arterial roads are everyday occurrences. Tourists, who come to see the Taj Mahal, recount of harrowing experiences on the roads.
Agra is spread over an area of over 4000 sqr km, with the projected population for 2021 to be around 2.3 million. In the last few decades, the city has emerged as a leading centre in western Uttar Pradesh for trade and commerce. Since Agra’s roads were built and expanded organically and periodically without much planning for the future course, traffic load in the city has far exceeded the carrying capacity of roads, leading to traffic jams on the roads for major part of the day.
Besides, the inter-mixing of slow moving and fast moving vehicles are further reducing the travel speed of all vehicles. Other problems like inadequate road width, concentration of major activities in one region, encroachment, dumping of garbage on roadside, improper design of road junctions, inadequate public transport, lack of sidewalks for pedestrians,, parking spaces and dedicated space for hawkers, are adding to the mayhem.
SPHEEHA decided to address these issues by involving all stakeholders through a seminar on ‘Traffic in Agra: The Sustainable Course’ held in November 2014.
A detailed action plan for traffic issues in Agra, developed by a team of IIT-Delhi professors in association with SPHEEHA was released by the Commissioner of Agra, Pradeep Bhatnagar in June 2015
In 2013, a number of people were already aware about Environmental Damage. SPHEEHA had already worked upon the concept of an Eco-Village and the members felt it was time to look at our Consumption levels. Thus a Seminar was organised on Consumption levels, Environmental Damage & Sustainable Settlements. It was unique and the Chief Guest was Dr. Anil Kakodkar – Chairman Solar Energy Corporation of India and Former Chairman, Atomic Energy. He was pleased to observe that SPHEEHA and residents of Dayalbagh Township in Agra – which had seen a lot of inputs being put by SPHEEHA was working on the principle of reducing needs and thus towards sustainable development. The Seminar was lauded by national media and the work of SPHEEHA was now reaching to people beyond Agra.
In 2011, SPHEEHA took the concept of an EcoVillage to the next level and organised a workshop on the Concept of EcoVillage – A Role Model for Sustainable Environment and Development. The proceedings of the conference is cited as a bible on the subject by many. It has been published by Tata McGraw Hill and is available for sale via them. Copies of the same are also available from SPHEEHA office.
In 2010, SPHEEHA continued it work of implementing Rainwater Harvesting systems in and around Dayalbagh township in Agra and to keep a check on the systems and process also held a Seminar on Water, Climate Change and Concept of Eco-Village/Eco-City. You would be glad to know that the township of Dayalbagh has now been declared as an Eco-Village.
The Seminar reiterated that water is one of the basic resources of life on this Blue Planet covering two thirds of its surface. The continual renewal of water is performed by the world’s hydrological cycle. Today we face the problem of water management on account of its overuse, misuse and increasing demand. Getting water from where it is to where it is needed, and keeping it clean, would help in its sustainable management. Agriculture, industry and urbanized regions could not exist without using tremendous quantities of water, polluting a lot in the process, and lowering the water table to precarious levels. Water also moderates the weather, making it possible for temperature restricted chemistry of life. Therefore proper management of water is a prime necessity. Like human life, it needs continuous thought and attention. It is high time to start conserving and protecting water usage and conservation of water, the planet’s most precious resource, before the wells of life run dry. Thus we can live without water-woes.