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Samar Halarnkar is editor of, a data-driven, public-interest journalism, non-profit organization. He also writes the column Our Daily Bread inMint Lounge.

“Over the past couple of weeks, a string of scientific studies from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, have laid out the effects of India’s chaotic urbanization and how cities are headed on a rapid, downward spiral—yes, worse than today.

“Notwithstanding the talk of smart cities, it is hard to stall this sense of doom. Those who can, secede from crumbling urban public services. This secession could not be more comical—or tragic—in Delhi, where they secede from the air itself. I have been a fly on the wall to many thoughtful debates on the intricacies of indoor air purifiers.

…”What is clear is that India’s great urban explosion is proceeding with an unplanned frenzy rarely—or never—seen before in the world. That means random concretization—about half the toxic particles in Delhi’s air, the world’s worst, come from construction dust—and destruction of vegetation. A new study by T.V. Ramachandra and his colleagues at IISc’s Centre for Ecological Sciences provides statistical evidence to the process of creating India’s concrete jungles. Examples:

l Kolkata’s tree cover, a third of its area in 1980, is likely to fall to 3.37% by 2030.

l Ahmedabad’s tree cover, from 45% of its area in 1970, will likely fall to 3% by 2030.

l Bhopal’s tree cover: From 67% in 1992 (let’s just ignore 92% in 1977) to a likely 11% by 2030.” Live Mint. Read Samar Halarnkar’s column on

Our grey, grim future