Indian ITs and startups face a difficult choice. They can either stay in smaller towns and take a small salary or move to a big city. The second option at first glance seems clearly more advantageous but has a catch. In big cities, they face dangerous smog, crowded streets, and huge traffic jams.
Gurgaon, a satellite town about forty kilometers from New Delhi, is one of the country’s major technology centers. During the last census of 2011, there were 876,000 people living in it, and its regional headquarters include, for example, Google, Microsoft, and Zomato. However, attractive job offers in the city have one major disadvantage – air pollution.
Megha Mathur decided to take a job at a technology company in Gurguam almost wisely. Working at India‘s IT center seemed a dream come true. She did not want to spend the rest of her life thereafter moving.
The inhabitants of the city are faced with almost constantly present smog. Moreover, the one from the city itself merges with another blowing from New Delhi to form a toxic cocktail. Every day, therefore, people have to check via the Internet whether it is safe to go out on the street without a mask.
“Knowing that your life will be like this forever will create a lot of anxiety and stress in you,” Mathur said to CNN. Many Gurguam people feel similar. But if they want to work in growing multinationals, they don’t have much choice. In other big cities, the situation is not much better and in rural areas, the “start-up”, startup or accountant will not make a living.
Without smog, but with constipation
Mathura, 27, decided to change after nine months in Gurgaon. She and her fiancé moved to Bangalore, another of the country’s technology centers. She escaped the smog she faced in her previous residence, but she encountered another problem. Giant traffic jams.
This city in the south of India was formerly called the Retirement Paradise or City of Gardens. But the economic and population boom has turned it almost unrecognizable, writes CNN. In 2011, Bangalore had a population of 8.5 million and the number of cars in it was about the same. However, transport infrastructure is lagging far behind, causing congestion of many kilometers.
“The city looks like you stuffed ten thousand people into a room for only ten,” Mathur said. About a seven-kilometer journey to work normally takes her an hour, she said several times in the column spent an hour and a half long. “The worst part is that the situation seems to have no solution,” she added. The constipation is largely due to the fact that the city does not have proper public transport.
Smog-free thanks to its position
Although at first glance it might seem that the problems of Gurgaon and Bangalore are unrelated, they have one thing in common. This is a rapid increase in both cities, caused by the rapid growth of the Indian population. Both cities are likely to face a similar fate in the future.
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According to CNN, Bangalore has no difficulty with smog-like Gurguan because it lies on a hill. Gurgaon is likely to avoid traffic jams because it is several times smaller than Bangalore.
Last year, Gurgaon “won” the award for the world’s worst air place, with schools shutting down every winter because of smog. Both cities are now thinking of plans to build new infrastructure for public transport, but they are not yet planning to translate the plans into reality.
In the next ten years, the population of both cities could double. According to Indian government estimates, 4.3 million people could live in Gurgaon in 2031, while Bangalore should have 20 million inhabitants at that time. Thus, it can be assumed that problems with smog and transport will worsen further.
There are also problems with water
India’s large technology centers are almost literally suffocating with their own success. Even another acute problem is shared by both cities – running out of water. Next year, according to government estimates, along with 19 other Indian cities, it should fully deplete its groundwater reserves.
Millions now rely on private cisterns rather than government water supply systems. “If you look at the Gurguan Map of the 1970s, you will see a network of riverbeds,” said CNN M. D. Sinha of the GMDA City Development Planning Institute. “Currently, most of them have turned into roads,” he added.
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Wastewater recycling could solve the situation, according to GMDA. “Water can be viewed as waste and as a resource,” Sinha explained. “We are now looking at it as a resource, and that is something we have to do with other things. We have to realize that we must save them, or the scarcity will destroy us, ”he added.
Companies that are indirectly responsible for their current situation could also help technology centers. For example, the OYO startup, which operates around twenty thousand hotels worldwide and is based in Gurgaon, plans to move to new offices. These should be much more sustainable and produce fewer greenhouse gases. In addition, the company encourages employees to use public transport.
Amazon is installing solar panels in its Indian warehouses. She would also like to electrify the transport – in September she promised to send 100,000 electric cars to the streets by 2023. Indian competitor Flipkart, which is currently limiting its plastic consumption. In addition, this year the company has a new manager for sustainability.