Thursday, 15 November 2007

Guntur comes to Bologna

Mayor's office from Bologna had sent me an invitation explaining that mayors from Indian city of Guntur and Philippines province of Bahol were coming to Bologna as jury members for an ecological project. It seems that Bologna with some funding from European Union and in collaboration with a Swedish city was promoting this project for the improvement of environment and ecological sustainability and it had started with the two pilot projects in India and Philippines.

These days when they speak of global warming and climate change, often they end up by saying that enormous growth in India and China is going to put additional pressure on the climate and that the developing world should look for some alternate paradigm of growth. I find that extremely hypocritical.

The other day I was reading that USA alone consumes hundreds of time more energy than all of Africa and if China and India continue to grow the way they are, by 2020 they will be consuming 20% of the USA energy level. So it is not about reducing India or China's energy use, it is about reducing their own energy use if they are serious about climate change and global warming. In the end every drop counts, but isn't it a little shameless to not to look at oceans and focus only on drops?

European energy consumption is not at the American level but it is probably not too much far behind. How much success have they achieved in reducing their own energy consumption?

I feel that in USA and in Europe, the trend is towards more efficient use of energy, less polluting ways of using energy and there is no attempt to change the general paradigm of living that is based on intensive use of earth's resources. Almost everything, from cars to computers, are going towards "use it and throw it" kind of mentality. So how can they preach to developing world about what others should do?

If the developed world is really keen on reducing pollution in the developing world, they should be willing to waive copyrights and protectionist measures to share ideas, efficient technologies with the developing world, and not allow their own multinationals to shift their polluting businesses in developing world without proper technology improvements.

In Bologna itself, there is lot of pontificating about using bicycle and public transport and not using cars, but in reality the city does everything to discourage people from using bicycles and promotes use of cars. In my opinion, as someone who goes regularly to work on bicycle, in the last ten years the number of bicycle users in the city has decreased and number of cars has increased many folds.

I had all these thoughts in my head when I went to this meeting. Fortunately they did not give any hypocritical speeches about climate change and global warming. The emphasis was very much on ecology for improving the lives of people who live in our cities, about improving water supply, solid waste management, traffic, greenery, etc.

Kanna Nagaraju, mayor of Guntur was there with his wife, Kirti. Nagaraju a BTech in mechanical engineering was in real estate business when he entered politics 2 years ago and at 25 became one of the youngest mayors of India (or may be in the world?). Kirti is also a BTech, is still studying, doing MBA and the couple do not yet have a child.

Nagaraju's was not a very fluent or coherent speaker but his presentation was good. He presented some big successes in Guntur after this project - they are now testing water supply for pollution and making sure that people get drinkable and pollution free water. He told that they are almost near to achieve 24x7 uninterrupted water supply, and they have a new system of solid waste collection from the house holds that is separated for recycling. He also said that Guntur is now a garbage free city, they are managing traffic better, building more parks and planting greenery, etc.

Is this change real or is it just a big political speech-giving by exaggerating whatever little has been done, this only the persons from Guntur can tell. I hope some bloggers from Guntur will send comments.

In the meantime, some pictures from yesterday: (1) Nagaraju (right) with Pamela Lama (from the Bologna Mayor's office), Anna Patullo (Bologna counsellor) and representatives from Phillipines (2). On this occasion, Sogni d'oriente, a Italian-Persian music group presented some fusion music. There were also some  (3) products from Guntur on exhibition; and (4) closeup of Nagaraju with interpreter and Ms. Lama.


1 comment:

  1. One of the things I've been complaining about since I arrived in Modena is the lack of 1) public transportation 2) bicycle paths 3) common household recycling. Having lived 2 years in Stuttgart where the public transportation is excellent, where you can cycle almost everywhere if you want to, and where individual households are obliged to recycle (we had at least 3-4 bins at home and you get fined if you do not recycle or do so wrongly), I find Italy backward and a mess.

    And coming from Singapore where everything is done to discourage car ownership, I find it sad that I am obliged to drive here and that I should feel lost and helpless if I don't. That was exactly how I felt when we were living in the States too.


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