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Published on 12/6/2017 2:55:33 PM
Visual pollution is an ugly blind spot in Pune's Smart City plans
Recently, Delhi and the NCR region have been in the news for extraordinarily high readings of air pollution.

But what are we doing to avoid a similar situation in Pune? It is being developed as a Smart City, but at what cost?

Apart from the obvious land, air and water pollution, there are certain other types of pollution that affect the quality of life in a city. Visual pollution is one such type.

Visual pollution — that includes irregular formations, illegal waste dumps, billboards, unsightly cables, dilapidated buildings, mounds of construction debris, ugly graffiti etc. — severely affects a person's ability to enjoy a view. This kind of pollution affects overall quality of life, reduces aesthetic appeal, economic health and civic-sense.

In Pune, even the suburban areas are mismanaged and it is impossible to enjoy nature anymore. Visual pollution not just offends the eyes, it also has an impact on the economic health of a city. Ugly sights also trigger irritability. Children who grow up in such areas never learn to value pleasant environments. So, visual pollution has a very distinct characterchanging effect.

An interesting study by a student compared the quality of life of people living in a visually pleasant area to those living in unpleasant ones. The study looked into people's psyche and the reaction to the visual quality of the immediate environment. Social civility and people's behaviour around solid waste were observed. It was observed that visual pollutants are omnipresent. Residential areas, schools, hospitals, places of worship... no place is free of visual pollution. This kind of pollution was found to create deep displeasure and decline in the civic sense. It was also found to adversely affect the psychological health.

Moreover, many kinds of visual pollutants are also linked to diseases such as asthma and chikungunya. The visual environment is as indispensable as clean water and fresh air. There should be a joint effort from different organisations and institutions — government, NGOs, research bodies as well as the public — to stop the problem of visual pollution.

Everyone wants a beautiful environment (natural as well as built) that can inspire creativity and productivity among the people. I hope Pune will be "smart" by the aesthetic parameters as well.