Cities around the globe are trying to figure out ways to tackle the pollution problem. But often these solutions are extremely expensive. London spent over a million Pounds (nearly INR 88 crores) to spray their streets with an adhesive chemical that would absorb pollutants. The Netherlands, on the other hand, has started using “Smog Free Towers” to purify air. But the solution to this problem need not be this complex and costly.
The Kodungallur municipality in the Thrissur district of Kerala seems to have realised this and has proposed to make it mandatory for newly constructed buildings to have at least two trees planted. The new rule states that any building that has 1,500 square feet building area or built-up area of more than 8 cents, will need at least two trees to be planted. The local body will grant the building number only if this criteria is met.
The rule will be implemented in two phases.
- When someone applies for a building permit, they will have to show where the trees will be planted in the building plans.
- After the building is constructed, officials from the municipality will visit to ensure the trees have been planted before issuing a house number.
The municipality is also planning on providing guidelines for houses that have less than 1,500 square feet area, asking for shrubs and flowering plants to be planted.
But would this legislation actually lead to a better environment?
Over the years, researchers have discovered that trees do at least two important things:
They soak up pollutants from cars and factories. This has a huge impact as these particulates lead to the death of around 3.2 million people worldwide each year.
Trees cool down the environment anywhere from .05 degrees Celsius to 2 degrees Celsuis. This would make summers more bearable and reduce instances of heat strokes.
But here’s the deal. Trees can clean and cool only the immediate environment around it – upto a 100 foot radius. And thus, it becomes important for planning officials to ensure that the density is maintained across neighbourhoods.
Kodungallur has taken the first step towards creating a better environment. We hope that other municipalities in Kerala and India draw inspiration from this and do the same.