ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS OF URBANIZATION AND INDUSTRIALIZATION THE EXISTING SITUATION AND FUTURE DIRECTION [Madhab Mathema, S.L. Shrestha & A. R.

Joshi] EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1. URBANIZATION

1.1 There is a growing realization among decision makers within the Government and the external agencies alike that urbanization could play an important role in Nepal's social and economic development. On the other hand, deteriorating urban environment and massive resources required to correct it is often cited as the reason for not pursuing a policy of deliberate urbanization. 1.2 Over the past thirty-five years of planned development, the public sector has been able to establish considerable national physical infrastructure as well as job-creating units such as in manufacturing, service, agriculture (agro-based industries) and, to an extent, mining sectors primarily in urban areas. These activities have helped create jobs in our urban centers. 1.3 With the rapid growth in urban economic activities, the urban scene is characterized by rapidly increasing population and physical expansion. For example, between 1971 and 1981 urban population increased by over 69% to 957,000 in 1981. By 1990 the population is estimated to have grown to 1,811,000 (about 10% of estimated national population), an increase of over 89% just in 9 years. During the last decade the urban population is estimated to have doubled. By 2002 Nepal's urban population is expected to reach 3.22 million. 1.4 On the other hand the urban expansion process is occurring without corresponding expansion of basic services, resulting in a rapidly deteriorating urban environment. As of 1987, 82% of urban population had no access to solid waste service, 53% had no human waste disposal facilities, 30% had no electricity and another 34 % had no access to piped water connection. The most important feature of the growth is that it is occurring without an effective planning framework. The problem will be more severe in future as urban areas continue to expand more rapidly. 1.5 Between now and the year 2002, our towns are estimated to grow at an annual average of 5.04%. This means that the present urban population will double every 13 years. In terms of physical expansion, Terai towns will grow by over 100% and urban areas in the Kathmandu Valley will expand by 25%; overall urban areas are expected to expand by 61%. To serve the existing and added areas in terms of existing urban infrastructures, 1.8 times as many kilometers of road will be needed, 9 times as many kilometers of storm-water drains will need to be installed, and 2.7 times as many water connections will have to be provided as presently exist, and 17 times as much solid waste will need to be collected as is presently being collected. All these will cost to the order of about Rs.14 billion. The investment required is staggering but a much needed one. 2. URBANIZATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT

2.1 Physical expansion of urban areas is occurring in a haphazard manner with little planning. While there is no land use or zoning regulations to bring about compatibility among urban activities, complete lack of a service extension programme has left people with no better

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6 The problems arising out of this lack of planning are further exacerbated by incapability of planning institutions to respond promptly. becoming denser. high-density residential houses. river pollution. junk yards. 2. 2. 2. irregular practices. As loose density areas get filled. Teku on the bank of River Bagmati is a typical example of the atrocity of the existing pattern of development. increase in the land price and additional construction further diminish the possibility of expanding and improving existing roads or acquiring small piece of land for children's playgrounds. and the trustee of a town-the municipality of Lalitpur . an asphalt mixing plant. fragmented authority & responsibility among a multitude of organizations. and scarcity of drinking water have become acute. loss of green space and agriculture land. of the cultural environment but also a form of development which is highly injurious to public health and safety.4 Low-rise buildings are giving way to high-rises which are normally not designed by competent engineers nor are serviced adequately against fire and other hazards. and efficiently to the dynamics of urban growth. urban environmental problems such as air. 2. metal shops. new areas suffer from lack of road system. a hospital. noiseand drinking water pollution. which would ensure that irreconcilable uses are not being permitted in the same locality.finds justification in letting rolling shutter-shops be erected around holy temples. Thus the existing expansion pattern is such that each development is preempting possibilities for any substantial improvements in future. visual blight of age-old cultural environment. Within this area of about 30 hectares are located a national health laboratory. solid waste accumulation. a gas reservoir. not to talk of drainage or open space and playgrounds for children.finds it perfectly sensible to build its office on premium public green land.7 As a result. utter lack of commitment of planning institutions and the politicians. tea stalls. retail shops. effectively. such plans suffer from institutional weaknesses which are best described as (i) inability to take concerted action. As all building constructions are planned and carried out by owners themselves acting individually. (ii) inability to do forward-looking planning. such changes are occurring without any planning guidance and improvement in services. high concentration of economic activities in a limited area and utter lack of planning all together have accelerated the process of deterioration of the urban environment. While the technology of plan preparation has advanced considerably over the last thirty years.5 Not just one activity or lack of a service can be singled out as the one responsible for the worsening urban environ mental quality. Older parts of the city like the Kathmandu city core are. fragmentation of parcels is approaching a limit beyond which families have no alternative other than to divide old houses horizontally. and (iii) inability to be innovative enough to capture both the imagination and confidence of people from different walks of life. and poor financial management. ii . truck repair shops. 2. a sacred temple complex and a solid waste compost plant. Commercial pressure on land and building is so intense that even the Guthi Sansthan -an upholder of religious trusts. even pollution-prone industries are established in the middle of residential areas. The result is not only a mass destruction.3 Even existing built-up areas like older parts of the towns are undergoing rapid changes in response to the changing structure of the economy and shifting spatial attractiveness. these weaknesses are partly caused by (and are also the reasons for) the multiplicity of conflicting and incomplete rules and regulations. Lack of basic services that sustain the functioning of a city coupled with a low level of awareness. Of course.alternative than to first build buildings and then wait for services to be installed. 2. As in newer areas. in fact.2 Moreover in the absence of zoning regulations. traditional court yards are being bought wholesale and are built upon. as it were. poor management practices. lack of awareness.

For example the better-off are moving away from the older part of the towns to the outskirts. between 1986 and 1990 there has been significant growth of larger units (employing 10 or more) particularily in chemicals. mineral products. and the surrounding habitat has been the principal problem. 3. consequences from the environmental point of view could be a tragic one. and per capita food production declined. 3. vanishing open areas. who find it more economical to be in city centers.9 Improvement in the urban environment is possible only if urban management is based on a forward-looking. and deteriorating hygiene of the surrounding area. urban-based industrial production. If the present trend continues. During these periods the agriculture outputs remained stagnant. Efficient management will be the key word of the strategy. and metals. iii . only to be evicted by land grabbers and unscrupulous politicians. While the array of manu. whereas the middle class has to be content with a decreasing living space (because of family subdivisions). fixed investment.the Central Region . increasingly find themselves displaced either due to conversion of their shelter space to commercial use or by invasion from the middle class. Largely it will mean ability to generate and utilize resources to carry out improvement programmes. In fact often these terms are used interchangeably. and total value added. In the process of change the poor. if concerted efforts are not made to correct the situation.3 With increase in number of industrial establishments there has been corresponding problem of environmental pollution.facturing establishments is dominated by small and cottage agro-based industries. In many other cases there has been limited attempts in the part of the management to reconcile environmental needs with industrial requirement. Cost recovery and planning standards will determine the outcome of future endeavour. The most encouraging trend is that manufacturing output has increased by an average of 7% for the past decade. broad-based. While the affluent have greater resources to deal with the consequences. 3. and 12% per annum between 1981/82 and 1986/87. it is the poor and the middle class who suffer most. and health and welfare of urban population as well as of hinterlands. It is no concidence that the most developed region (measured in terms of contribution to GDP) of the country . INDUSTRIALIZATION 3.1 Historically urbanization and industrialization are the two complementary phenomena. This is because a speedy industrial growth occurs where a range of infrastructural services is available. Consequently. The next choice would be to buy land where the price is affordable: either far away from the city or in unserviceable locations like the flood plain. In a few cases lack of awareness of impact of pollution on the health of the workers. and the urban centers are the most convenient and efficient location for this purpose. 2.Overall the urban environmental condition is so bad that it is affecting all income groups. the problem will be serious enough to jeopardize the urban economy.is also the most urbanized as well as industralized part of the nation. the only alternative that is left to them is to squat on public and marginal land.8 Examples abound but the conclusion is the same: urban Nepal is undergoing a tremendous change that it has never experienced before and for which it is so ill-equipped that. 2. Recently carpet industry has become the most prominent feature of the industrial growth of urban Nepal.2 Over the last forty years (1951-90) Nepal has made an impressive progress in the industry sector as measured in terms of number of establishments. consensus-seeking process which aims at increasing efficiency of land use & service delivery to serve as wide a range of population as is possible.

The process of making such choices is not a simple one. "Environ ment" in its true sense is a common denominator that affects every one and all sectors. While scientific analyses are critical to arrive at an enlightened decision. unto the Khare Khola . these are not the substitute for public debates. A majority of environmental problems has arisen due to sheer negligence. although in isolated industries such a framework may not be available. industrial pollution is scattered and mysteriously obscure. This is particularily true in the case of concentrated industrial pollution. It is regrettable that the Balaju Industrial District. 4. Our own understanding is that industrial pollution ought to be a major concern in larger towns like Kathmandu. INDUSTRIAL POLLUTION 4. Study of industrial pollution has been largely confined to technical aspects of pollution. and polluted runoff from agriculture fields has impacted negatively on surrounding vegetation including crops.1 Environmental pollution is not simply a matter of not having a clean and wide road or safe drinking water. While future industries can be subjected to more rigorous environmental guidelines. The Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory dumps its waste. so goes the argument. Lalitpur. industrial pollution has the potential to become a serious problem in the future. It is a manifested consequence of a number of shortfalls ranging from lack of services to poor development and industrial practices.Whether we should preserve our age-old traditional environment of the Kathmandu city or let the people build to maximize return on their investment in buildings is a choice that can only be made through intelligent public debate. raw sewage from the surrounding habitat. and its overall impact has not been well assessed.4 The need to exercise environment-minded management in the design and operation of industries is obvious. 4. ignorance or mismanagement. where industrial establishments pay less rent than a squatter living on the bank of River Vishnumati pay for improvised homes. Such discharge combined with waste from carpet washing and dying industries. 4.4.2 Experts tend to agree that. iv . or rather environmental management. Industrial pollution problems can and should be tackled to a large extent within an appropriate urban planning framework. But it can only be managed through intelligent choices among alternative forms of development. As compared to the sheer magnitude of the problems arising out of lack of services and a overall lack of planning and regulatory framework. does not even have an effluent disposal and treatment plant. as well as aquatic life. It will be wrong to think of a good environment as something that should be achieved in place of economic growth.3 The task of pollution control. it is the existing industries where corrective measures are difficult to apply due to cost reasons. Impacts of industrial pollution on the habitat and eco-system in these towns are already beginning to be felt. Seldom development choices are of "either-or" nature. although not of a major concern at present.a tributary of Dhobikhola.Government will have to evolve and introduce innovative cost-sharing mitigation measures. chromium metal. Increased cost of production due to mitigation measures is often used to argue against "environmentally clean industry" as this will keep such industries out of the market. which contains. Some consider environmental issues a borrowed concern from the west. This is because industries in conjunction with other urban activities generate pollution problems as the net effect of industrialization is to increase overall urban activities. It is also argued that what Nepal need is more jobs and increased production. Biratnagar and Hetauda. is fraught with conflicting issues. or at best secondary to the need for rapid industrialization. among other things.

A planning framework must be in place for which the concept of public right to control the use of private and public land must be recognized. (iii) energy. 5. Industries not only create jobs but also produce goods and services that fuels the economy. although advantages from urbanization are not automatic. these are an expression of our choice of development form. the rural sector will not be able to absorb more than half of it. But these deficiencies are not intrinsic to urbanization. Towns and cities are seen as the refuge for the privileged whereas villages are deemed to be the home of the neglected.2 Urban development in the broader sense should not be seen as an alternative to rural development. For this. 5. Neglect of urbanization will diminish Nepal's chance to diversify its stagnant and predominantly agriculture economy and to create job opportunities for a growing labour force. Negative impacts of industrialization such as pollution should be addressed without jeopardizing its growth potential.e. 5. Many more suspect that urban centers are expensive to develop and maintain. 5. i. A land use plan should be market-friendly but not necessarily marketdriven. even under the "best" scenario. (iv) natural land uses. The urban economy in itself is important because of its contribution to the national economy and growth potential. and concomitant problems of environ. (ii) open space. Currently the land use plans are based on "demand-driven" principle. Experiences of other countries have shown that a sustainable urban development is not possible without the growth of a rural economy and vice versa. and commitment to direct resources in a particular fashion. The first step to control industrial pollution is to influence location of industries so that the impact on habitat is minimal.1 Our ability to bring substantive change in the existing urban environmental status will be determined by our commitment to urbanization. a land use plan and development regulations are required first. An important aspect of such a policy would be a loss in the productive potential of the urban centers which would amount to a loss of investment that has already gone into the urban infrastructure Nepal can least afford such a loss.In order to be able to manage the expected urban growth mainly due to industrialization. This is precisely the reason why land use plan should only be adopted through public debates. At the same time over the past two decades the urban sector has emerged as the most v . and that these services together are available only at urban centers. as for other activities. great efforts are required in many aspects of institutional improvement. But a land use plan and regulations are not a technical document per se. COMMITMENT There is a broad consensus that industrialization is essential for Nepal's overall development. Little is appreciated that speedy indus-trialization requires an array of services ranging from housing of the workers to an efficient intra. Many feel that the urban sector is receiving more than its share of country's meager resources.mental deterioration. A system of urban centers is also essential to facilitate this process because it is through such a system that goods and services flow across the country.3 Given the growth rate of the population and a concomitant increase in the labour force. Urban centers are not only a repository of wealth but are also the center of production. But urbanization is an inevitable and beneficial process. Urban development is dreaded in many quarters. and (v) aesthetic endowments. investment in urban areas is considered inappropriate when the vast majority are living in rural areas.. This is important to understand because many land use plans prepared so far are trendprompted and give inadequate consideration to environmental issues such as impact of the growth on (i) water resources.and inter-urban transport and communication network to bring in raw material and send out productions. response to growth trends. However existing urban development policy is not only inadequate but also lopsided and unequitable.

demonstration. These efforts are laudable but need to be continued.4 Thus. and help the country to move out of the circle of despondency. can play an important role in helping government agencies and national NGOs in implementing some of the recommendations made by this study. Although Nepal is not in position to launch a grand environment improvement programme. THE FUTURE 6.1 The array of studies in the area environmental implication of urban development and industrialization is impressive. 5. as most polluting industries tend to locate within or in close proximity of the towns. UNDP/CEDA made a unique contribution in the area of the urban environment by launching a broad-based study of the environmental situation at three towns of Nepal. 6. urbanization is a phenomenon that can neither be reversed nor ignored. 6. Such initiatives will induce a sense of confidence among people. Many government agencies are moving in the direction of conducting at least IEE before launching major construction projects. both from the point of view of national development strategy and addressing the problems arising out of a rapidly deteriorating urban environment. expanded and strengthened. Such standards must also be affordable and within the range of institutional capacity to enforce. Several external agencies are involved in one way or other in this area. Externally funded projects now require that all major investments in infrastructures be preceded by environmental impact assessments. NPC/IUCN has undertaken important steps in starting the process of "public debate" by bringing out the National Conservation Strategy and reportedly starting the preparation of land use plans in two districts. it must be seen within the framework of urban environment improvement. NGOs like the Save The Bagmati Campaign and the DISVI (in collaboration with national NGOs) have made notable contributions either by advocating a responsible public response or by conducting pollution-related studies. That vi .4 Donors in general. and UNDP in particular. The Constitution has declared that environment will be an important consideration of our development strategy. With the advent of the democracy the country is in the right mood to start this process of consolidating public insights. There is also a great need to simplify the existing anomalous relationship between various agencies. The most important strategy to bring in improvement in the urban environment is to extend support to small. The first part deals with issues of fundamental importance. Further studies in a few areas of environmental concerns can very well be supported by external agencies. It is followed by recommendations related to improvement in operational area. if the standard of industrial effluent is established. 6. For instance it is easier to determine whether a certain industry is violating a good environmental behaviour or not when it dumps effluent directly unto a river. 6. in immediate future what will count most is a successful implementation of small but people-related improvement initiatives.dynamic and leading sector of the national economy. Thus the employment generating potential of the urban sector is one and perhaps the only medium-term hope available to Nepal for absorbing the growing surplus labour force. A central quasi-judiciary body may be needed to formulate environment-related guidelines and monitor their enforcement. While industrial pollution poses a somewhat different problem. people-based projects. Environment should be the concern of all agencies and organization.3 Recommendations have been listed into two parts. We hope. meanwhile the country will ensue public debates to deal with issues of fundamental importance.2 Many environment-related issues in Nepal have become complex in the absence of an appropriate legislative arrangement.

vii .demonstration of a few successful projects will send a strong single that all studies should lead to actions.

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