The world has seen the disruption of healthcare and urban facilities done by the onslaught of Covid-19 which has affected the activities of people all over the world, especially in constricted areas. There is a rude awakening for the healthy and green city concepts in India.
Many have started doubting the concept of urban density, as in terms of City Planners, Economic geographers and Policymakers have always advocated adhering in the concept, which aims at increasing the density of urban areas to minimize consumption and increase the coverage of facilities to more people in limited space.
Urban density is a term used in urban planning and urban design refers to the number of people inhabiting a given urbanized area” (Berggren, n.d.)
Urban Density after Covid-19
Many theories were also introduced based on it, Transit-Oriented Development and Core Concentrated development, in the former one the density of population is planned to be high around the transit station (Bus or Train).
TOD aims at limiting the use of private vehicles and increase ridership of public transport and the latter one aims at providing a dense settlement pattern with relief in F.S.I (Floor Area Ratio) and building bye-laws to allow the growth of more population in a very constricted area.
COVID-19 poses a new challenge in terms of city planning and building which has put concepts of Urban Planning like TOD (transit-oriented development) and concentrated development in lime-light of scrutiny.
Although according to World Bank study done for 284 Chinese cities with extremely high population densities showed fewer confirmed cases per 10,000 people and many economic geographers state higher density helps economic growth and more exposure to opportunities as proximity increases for business and parts of the supply chain, etc. the major reason behind the failure of cities due to COVID were related to inadequate social and physical infrastructure.
The need for in cooperating Healthy and Green city concept into the development frontier has become more essential in the current situation, as the sector has adjusted to the changing global scenario and making their system more efficient similar steps are needed to maintain the economic growth of the cities without risking public health.
After World War II, Britain and many European nations had the chance to change their rusted systems and policies to delve themselves into future technologies and pattern, so this is the right time for the nations to include these changes especially in developing ones where the sole motive for higher growth rates ignores the ill effects on public health.
Healthy city: “equitable access to all”
“One of the more important determinants of physical activity is a person’s immediate environment. Most people who live in neighbourhoods with parks, trails, and greenways are twice as healthy as people who live in neighbourhoods without such facilities”.Kimball Crangle, a senior developer with the Denver Housing Authority
The aim of this concept is to provide room for development of pedestrian facilities while holding back on car infrastructure along with recognizing the economic benefits that is provided by a healthy population.
Engagement of community in improving the community health by energizing shared spaces that should have equitable access to all strata of people in the society.
Incentivizing healthy decision making by the general public, as physical and social environment, plays an important role in the health of communities which can be regulated by an urban planner whose job is the creation of sound places for people which is intrinsically linked with public health.
The urban sprawl development that was in demand few decades ago has fallen short to maintain public health and added to the pollution levels in the city as citizens had to travel by car from the peri-urban region to the core for business and daily activities.
A California study showed each additional hour spent in a car per day is associated with a 6 per cent increase in body weight, whereas every kilometre (0.6 miles) walked each day is associated with a 5 per cent decrease, according to a study in British Columbia.
Healthy places can create enhanced economic value for both the private and public sectors as recent demographic and lifestyle shifts show that consumers of all ages increasingly want to live in walkable, mixed-use, transit-rich communities, compact areas that offered mobility choices, local parks, and nearby retail and transit.
Accessibility to primary health care for citizens
The concern forever planner and city authority will be of Disease control, Illness prevention, Accident reduction, General safety. This can be fulfilled by providing the basic infrastructure that the city dweller requires in a decentralized manner so that huge gathering and dependence will be avoided.
Providing a resilient health care service by completing the coverage of PHCs (Primary Health Centres) in every ward especially in developing nations like India which saw a soaring rise of hospital bed prices in the capital city Delhi as not only the local residents relied on its health care network but also population travelling from adjoining states.
Green city: From car centric to green centric
With an aim to provide a change in the industrial lifestyle which resulted in the “concrete jungle” and “car-centric” models of growth that affects the public health in a drastic manner.
Green city concept tries to provide a solution by introducing nature within city boundary acting not only as a mere recreational area but to encourage the growth of biodiversity (in terms of flora and fauna) within the city premise.
Green spaces and other nature-based solutions offer innovative approaches to increase the quality of urban settings, enhance local resilience and promote sustainable lifestyles, improving both the health and the well-being of urban residents
Urban green space is a component of “green infrastructure”. It is an important part of public open spaces and common services provided by a city and can serve as a health-promoting setting for all members of the urban community. It is therefore necessary to ensure that public green spaces are easily accessible for all population groups and distributed equitably within the city (WorldHealthOrganization, n.d.).
Impact after Covid-19 : Urban green spaces intervention
Opportunities to involve urban green space interventions in urban planning include development of new residential neighbourhoods, community facilities, business parks or transport infrastructure projects; regeneration projects and urban renewal initiatives; brownfield development and rehabilitation of industrial areas; urban gardening/agriculture projects; initiatives to enhance biodiversity through Urban Forests and Greens.
Through improved air and water quality, buffering of noise pollution and mitigation of impacts from extreme events, urban green spaces can reduce environmental health risks associated with urban living.
The joint impact of providing a stable health care system to revive the ill and the serene facilities provided by the greens which will make citizen more active and mindful of nature.
As during the onset of coronavirus and the resultant lockdowns imposed by authorities affected the mental wellbeing of citizens and the lack of empty hospital beds created a chaos at the time of instability, which left people in dire situations, exposing the fragile system hence proving that our cities are not compliant with the future needs.