URBANIZATION – BLESSING or CURSE
Urbanization refers to modernization. Modernization means upgrading both the rural community and the vegetative land resources. It is nothing but incorporating the modern means and technology to bring the rural and the vegetative lands into the developmental mainstream. It is the process of expanding the modern day facilities from the existing city to the peripheral regions. This expansion will include construction of new architectural infrastructures (buildings), laying of new roadway system and construction of huge factories. Increase in vehicle population, migration of people from the rural areas to the cities, expansion of existing city layout is some of the activities under urbanization.
Urbanization is considered to be a blessing only to some extent. People living in cities get a wider exposure to modern day facilities. People either buy good and luxurious homes or accommodate themselves in nice rented homes. People get to drive nice luxurious cars. They have the opportunity to go to exotic shopping malls. Entertainment sources like bars, pubs and cinema theatres are extensively spread across the city. Children and teens have access to good educational institutions. People work in all segments of employment. There are people who have government jobs. There are others who work in big and small corporate companies. The standard of living is based on the income of the bread winner of the family. One who has more money has access to all the facilities that the city has to offer him/ her. The lesser ones have access to some facilities wherein the least of all have very fewer opportunities.
On one hand, the people get used to the city lifestyle. On the other hand, urbanization has its own demerits and consequences. It is true that the standard of living is very high in cities but at the same time, these comforts come at the cost of losing something valuable. There a lot of things that we tend to lose in cities without our knowledge. The first thing is our health. We seem to feel that we are living a life full of good health and strength. But it is not so. The real fact is that we are losing our health each passing day. The longevity of the people living in cities is less than those living in rural areas. The major factor affecting our health is pollution. Pollution is a silent killer in urban towns. Huge profitable factories are giving enormous job opportunities for the working community in cities but the pollutants, smoke and the residual waste from these factories are ruining our lives. They are ruining not only our lives but also the lives of the birds and animals living in cities. The residual wastes from the factories seep their way into the ground water making it useless for drinking. Recycling of the residual waste is a good method of keeping our environment free of pollutants. But it does not happen at all times. Some establishments do violate the rules laid by the pollution control boards of the city. The question is,” who is the loser”? It is we who are losing a lot our valuables in terms of health. The other danger that always lurks is the life taking disasters in the factories. It is unpredictable. No one knows when it strikes. It may or it may not strike. The second question is, “why do we still embrace urbanization”? Urbanization is welcome but not at the cost of losing many innocent lives. The air in the cities contains a lot of toxic chemicals in them. This lays the foundation for all kinds of respiratory diseases. Not only respiratory diseases, the residents of the city are subject to a lot of strange diseases caused by toxic chemical waste. The results are not only seen on the earth, it affects the celestial sphere also. The depletion of ozone layer is the major result of factory gaseous toxins affecting the atmosphere.
The question that is being frequently asked is,” how do we dispose off with the industrial wastes”? This question is very difficult to answer. Most of the countries are facing this menace for a long time. Some countries recycle the wastes. On the other hand, some countries convert the toxic wastes into lesser toxic products and then release them into the environment. On the contrary, there are many countries that are dumping their toxic wastes into the rivers and oceans. These countries under estimate the consequences of toxic poisoning. Some countries are well aware of their surrounding environment. But some countries ignore these factors and keep progressing in their acts. The disposal of radioactive wastes has become one of the most challenging issues that the world is facing today. Some solution has been formulated to curb this issue but it is not a permanent solution. Radioactive contamination, if not checked, transcends into the genetic makeup of both humans and animals. Maximum care has to be taken to get rid of the radioactive residues otherwise it may lead to very catastrophic results. An entire species or an entire race may be wiped out from the face of the earth.
Urbanization has rendered the agricultural land not usable for farming. The soil has been contaminated to a greater extent. The farmers have no other choice but to switch to alternate methods of income earning. Globally, when the farmers and agriculture is affected, then the food production takes a direct hit. There is considerable decrease in food production. The quality of the produce is often not up to global standards. Extensive cropping is not practiced in some countries due to depletion of natural resources. Most of the farmers in both developed and developing countries depend on rain for their farming. Due to industrialization and green gas effects, the rains get affected. There are less or no rains to support the farmers. Lesser rains lead to drought and in turn human and cattle casualties. A chain reaction starts. For lack of farming, the rural population starts migrating to cities. Urbanization and industrialization have already played havoc on the economic infrastructure of the country. Migration to these cities causes accommodation and sustenance problems.
The other factor that arises due to urbanization is constant saturation of toxic chemicals in the air we breathe. People tend to compete for better standards of living. Each one of them wants to live in a better home, drive a better car, have a better job and the most important of all be 1% superior to others in social status. More and more cars tend to hit the road each passing day. Though, there are greener cars plying on the state highways, there are cars that contribute equally to the gas pollution in the city. The personal vehicles increase the toxic chemicals in the air in addition to the gaseous toxin already spewed by the factories. There arises traffic congestion. People find it difficult to commute from one place to another place. Not only the private vehicles, the public transport system faces the same problems as well. The amount of polluted air that we inhale all the day is very high when compared to people who live in rural areas. The amount of oxygen in the air is more in the rural areas than in cities. The toxic wastes in the water and in the air are so high that it ultimately becomes a death trap in disguise. Urbanization has considerable impact on the environment as well. It directly or indirectly affects the entire ecosystem. In the process of urbanization, the forests and other vegetation belts are destroyed thus creating an imbalance in the ecosystem. Trees in the forests are the homes to many birds and animals. Man is at the top of the food chain system. When the trees are cut and the forests cleared, the homes of end number of animal species are destroyed. The birds and animals find it very difficult to translocate to another region for food and shelter. Because of this, many a species have become extinct. When the forest vegetation is disturbed, the entire ecosystem is disturbed. When the ecosystem is disturbed, the urban infrastructure is disturbed as well. When the trees are removed from their habitation, the soil in that place tends to lose its water holding capacity.
Roots are the soil binders in a vegetation belt. But when trees are felled extensively, there arises imbalance in the topography. In the event of rain, the absence of trees will no longer support the process of water holding and slow releasing. It paves the way for the water to run down the soil without any check. This water gets accumulated from all sides and culminates into a flash flood. The flash flood has no way to drain themselves out. They direct their flow directly towards the urban settlements. The waters hit the cities with catastrophic consequences. Loss of numerous lives is a result of urbanization. The loss of life applies to animals also. Urbanization dumps its wastes in the seas and ocean. It results in the death of exotic sea creatures. Apart from the sea creatures, the well nature preserved coral reefs too get affected. Coral reefs are the home for a vast variety of fishes. When coral reefs deplete, the fish population also gets affected. Sea food harvest gets affected as a result of this condition. For no fault of theirs, the birds and animals are facing death and extinction. Mass deaths of birds and animals in the wild create a new fear of epidemics. The spread of animal epidemics pose a threat to the entire urban infrastructure. However cautious the health departments are, some human casualties do occur as a result of these epidemics. Urbanization causes a lot of geographical changes in a particular country. The entire topography of a particular area will be changed without any trace.
Urbanization is good as long as the ecological balance is maintained. Huge price is being paid by countries which have joined hands in the process of modernization. Natural resources are very limited across the globe. The renewable resources are depleting each and every day. A city may look Porsche under urbanization but the city may or may not be healthy. There is very less scope for oxygen regeneration in cities when compared to the rural areas. Planting new trees is the only way of increasing the saturation of oxygen in the air. But it is impossible to do it in a successful way as most of the land resources come under construction. Rather than planting saplings, the bare lands are taken into consideration for architectural construction. Money, both in terms of earning and spending is the basic requirement for everyone residing in towns and cities. In case of metro cities, the requirement is on the higher side. We tend to compromise with a lot of safety standards in cities. Laws and rules are overlooked in every segment of the society. We look only for better facilities without thinking the after consequences. On the other hand, if we look for remedies and solutions to solve the problem arising out of modernization, one will have utmost satisfaction and enjoy life in an urbanized community.
Maintaining equilibrium between nature and manmade is good. We take a lot from the nature and it is our duty to return the same to the nature. Looking into the past with respect to the entire process of modernization, we have not done justice to nature. Our natural resources have either been robbed of or meddled with. We owe a lot to our future generation. Our kids need the natural resources as well as the comforts of modernization. We should be aware of the fact that the entire human community survives on the lap of the nature. Creating awareness among the public about the good and bad effects of modernization should be our top priority. It is advisable to join hands with such environment groups who put all their efforts to save the planet and make the world a better place to live.