How the air-conditioned city became a furnace

How the air-conditioned city became a furnace

The city that used to be an escape from the summer heat until a few years ago has now become a burning furnace, especially for Bengalureans who have been living here for a long time.

“I’ve been living here since 1964 and the Garden City has slowly turned into a city of chaos. Back then, we didn’t require fans or refrigerators but now the weather has become horrible,” says Imtiaz Shariff.

Bengaluru’s highest-ever maximum temperature (39.2­°C) was recorded in April 2016. This year, too, the average temperature in April is 36°C. The theme of this year’s International Earth Day is ‘Environmental and Climate Change Literacy’. It is high time people “warmed up” to the idea. This year, the mantra to chant is ‘Plant a tree, save a sin by thee’.

A rising concern in Bengaluru is the ‘heat island effect’ which causes a rise in temperatures within and around the surrounding areas. It is a very common phenomenon in cities. Some causes are the use of insulating material for construction of buildings such as glass, a large number of people concentrated in a small space, construction of buildings close together and traffic.

One such example of a heat island would be JC Road. Vijay Nishanth, an urban conservationist and tree doctor, says, “There has been no plantation of trees since two years in Bengaluru and it is very important for citizens to naturalise their surroundings. The initiative of vertical gardens is also turning out to be inefficient due to high temperatures and new and more innovative ways.”

A solution to the problem of heat islands would be having terrace gardens and green roofs as a part of the infrastructure. Chitra Vishwanath, an architect, and her husband Vishwanath designed their house to be a zero-waste house.

The house is built with mud blocks, they use solar energy and natural sunlight to prevent the usage of electricity during the day, all the water in the house gets recycled and the waste produced is used as manure for their terrace garden.
 

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