Mumbai has been dealt a blow by the COVID 19 pandemic with long term implications for its citizens. Questions arise about its planning and development trajectory, its ability to deal with future environmental shocks and pandemics. In the report Resurrecting Mumbai, Prof. Amita Bhide, Dean and Professor, School of Habitat Studies, weighs in on the issues and the possible directions to guide Mumbai’s path to recovery.
Here is our 12th community story, ‘Creating Communities of Care’, where residents of Cheetah Camp in Mankhurd have transformed a BMC school in their neighbourhood into a quarantine facility. The centre is equipped to accommodate almost 25 patients, and conduct saliva tests and assess oxygen levels. In light of the inaccessibility of private and state run medical facilities during the pandemic, the members of Cheetah Camp hope to be able to ease the distress of the community through the setting up of this facility.
Our 11th community story is about Prakash, a social worker from the community in the Mankhurd Transit Camp. Prakash noticed that the transit camp, a marginalised and vulnerable community, was being left out of mainstream relief efforts. In order to address this, he contacted Professor Amita Bhide and other NGOs, and conducted a survey of over 1200 households in the area to assess their needs, their levels of access to hygiene products and food, and prioritize relief efforts. Prakash’s leadership has enabled the community to access food and water, part time employment in government quarantine centres, and timely medication.
Here is our second presentation from the NIUA Ideathon that our Masters students from the Centre of Urban Policy and Governance participated in. Here they share their innovative measures for managing the task they were assigned and how the curriculum at the Centre has contributed to their knowledge of the urban.
Topic: Conserving water at household and neighbourhood level
Team members: Vipul Kumar, Akhil Ravella, Milan Sharma, Anmol Rana
We took a problem-centric approach intending to understand why water conservation is low and what causes wastage of water at the household level. We started off with trying to understand which type of settlements were the major users in Delhi that could be easily targeted to nudge behavior. We aimed to determine how we can nudge the behaviour of citizens to reduce the demand for water while using existing meausres, and by specifically targeting the problem that causes maximum wastage within the household.
Our first intervention creates a rating system for water appliances. By promoting water rating for taps, faucets, washing machines, shower heads, etc. we wished to nudge consumers to water-efficient appliances, similar on the lines of electrical appliances. The aim was not only to nudge behavioural change, but to make water conservation a priority in the household. Manufacturers are central to this idea, who were to be incentivised for such products, while the government promotes them in the market, housing projects/public offices, public toilets, making them an attractive option. As the products find their way in the market, awareness about the importance of such products would initiate change for consumers of the new water appliance market.
Our second intervention focuses on regulation in the functioning of ROs. This was decided as we observed that most households used ROs irrespective of the TDS (total dissolved solids) in water being supplied low. ROs typically waste 3 litres of water with every 1 litre of processed water. Hence, we decided that every household that requires an RO connection needs to get an approval from the board certifying that their TDS levels are high, making it obligatory for the RO company to provide a permanent storage tank, fixed beside the sink, where the wastewater can be collected with a mechanism to extract the wastewater. Moreover, the RO provider needs to issue a pamphlet in Hindi and English regarding various ways in which water can be utilised, like washing utensils, cleaning floors, clothes, etc.
Lastly, our third intervention was to make some changes in the water bill. We came up with an idea of including some data through easily understandable graphs regarding the past 4-5 months’ usage. This would be compared to the national average consumption level and neighbourhood consumption level. The bill would show a happy face if your consumption is below neighbourhood levels and sad face if your consumption level is above neighbourhood levels. And, there would be conservation tips on the back side of the bill. This intervention would nudge citizen’s behaviour eventually with data on consumption levels displayed, which would make them conscious about their consumption behaviour.
As a group we thought about some of the limitations with regard to our proposals., such as increased financial and administrative costs on Delhi government in terms of setting up a Nudge Unit and changes in design of water bills. Water is a state subject and an important political concern in Delhi, as currently the state government provides free water to some extent. The demand pattern needs to be analyzed by experimenting at a smaller level. Regulating the functioning of ROs in Delhi is a major challenge as it is a major lobby and bringing in certain interventions can put extra financial burden on RO companies which they can pass on to customers if not regulated properly.
The UPG course helped us to analyze the topic in a structured way – that is critically analyzing the issues. The course is designed to push students to identify the problems in a constructive manner before proposing a solution. This allowed us to consider the issue from a social, political, economical, and technical aspect. As we followed the approach, it brought us to possible solutions. The group participation added to our overall experience, encouraging constructive discussion, and offering a diverse range of perspectives.
The National Institute of Urban Affairs organised an Ideathon on the topic ‘Ideathon on ‘Nudging Civic Behavior towards an Environment-Friendly Delhi’ to invite ideas and strategies to be considered under the Master Plan of Delhi 2041. Our students from CUPG participated in the contest, and devised innovative ideas to address several concerns of urban governance, sustainability, policy, and civic participation. Students were divided into groups, with each group assigned specific problems to work on.
Here is the first installment of students’ experiences from their participation in the contest.
Topic: Segregating Solid Waste at Household Level
Team Members: Aadya Saxena, Aishwarya Dixit, Goutham Raj Konda, S. Prema Swarupa and Simran Pal Kaur.
We understand that an effective strategy for managing waste has to start with segregation of solid waste at the source of generation but this challenge has yet not achieved a holistic solution. Using the concept of the ‘nudge theory’, based on influencing how people think and behave, we aimed at improving people’s default decision-making for waste segregation among the residents of Delhi through a realistic approach.
We strategised to nudge community level accountability in order to foster household and community level waste segregating behaviour. We proposed to create smaller wing communities by grouping the society with 5 or 6 households. We proposed both positive and negative nudges with the belief that people often like to be conformists and that they often function with moral obligations. The positive nudges were: celebration of the occasion of installation of dual dustbins to remove ideas of disgust associated with it; involving the children in the process; rotation of responsibility of families every month to keep a check on segregation and using space-intensive bins in low-income neighbourhoods while simultaneously reducing dumping in the drains. The negatives nudges were: listing out the households in notices displayed on public information boards, serving letters to their homes for not segregating waste, highlighting the consequences of not segregating waste on their community and environment during the community meetings. Our strategy was based on the understanding that environment knowledge, moral obligation and perceived behavioral control will influence the attitude and separation intention which will prompt people to build a waste separation behaviour. However, this strategy has to persist regularly to be effective and achieve the goal of waste segregation.
In our course- Urban Policy and Governance, we have often critically discussed the Master Plans and have realised the significance of citizen engagement. Participating in this Ideathon was a good opportunity for us to brainstorm together and build on the learnings that we have had in our classes. Our course has often allowed us the space to experiment and ideate together for group work and helped us to improve our capacities to think clearly through classroom discussions. Our understanding of subjects such as sanitation and solid waste management, further bolstered our confidence to think about the topic. We saw this Ideathon as a chance to begin influencing some decision making in the procedure of planning for our cities to make it more sustainable and socially equitable ones. It was also an enriching experience to learn from the other teams about their ideas. The open discussion at the end of the session also helped us reflect on our ideas and opinions further.
Here is our 8th story from the community, titled ‘Helping Hands’. In this edition we talk about Mr. Sheikh, an auto rickshaw driver from Cheetah Camp who set up a community kitchen in his neighbourhood for migrant workers who have lost their livelihoods during this time and have little to no access to food and other basic amenities. Mr. Sheikh’s kitchen, that runs with the help of others in the community and local grocers, delivers nearly 500 food packets a day to those in need.
Taking Inspiration from the series of maps we created for Mumbai, Rajat Chopra from Datameet Pune Community has created a similar spatial repository of essential resources for his city.
Mr. Chopra says, the map has helped him observe patterns of infection and containment in the city. The map demonstrates that areas which have slums right beside IT offices are more likely to be containment zones, making one arrive at the uncomfortable realisation that it is the poor who are disproportionately affected by the virus. Procuring the data, which was available on the PMC website, came with its own share of glitches. The website often led to broken links, and could be accessed only in Marathi. Mr. Chopra believes this map could help NGOs working around the area to know more about patterns of contamination and design relief strategies accordingly. He hopes to be able to enhance the map by adding more information about the populations living in these areas, helping users understand the demography better.
Rajat Chopra grew up in Sirsa, Haryana (where he felt he never quite fit in), and therefore went all the way to SRM University to get a graduation degree in engineering (Computer Science). He then started working for the Indian MNC Wipro, but felt like he did not belong there either. Hence, went on to pursue his Masters in Geoinformatics from Symbiosis University, Pune. After working in Bangalore for about 4 years, he decided to return to academics, and went on to pursue his PhD in geoinformatics. He works at TomTom, Pune, where he continues to work with POIs, while continuing to work on his PhD.
Mr. Chopra likes reading about GIS in his spare time. For fun, he likes to organize and participate in cultural events, cook for friends and family and enjoy playing the Nashik dhol during Ganpati Festival.
Here is our 6th story about communities showing extraordinary resilience in the face of the global pandemic. This is a story of a visually challenged PhD student at IIT Mumbai who is reaching out with relief efforts to the fisherfolk community and the most vulnerable people with disabilities.