Opinion By Carlos Cristo
Brasília which will be 67 years old next month is the result of a (modernist?) project of debatable quality, although its author has been intellectually canonized. The city was planned under a concept of social dispersion through the so-called ‘satellite cities’, whose fusion in the urban network follows a metastatic pattern rather than a healthy one.
Urban costs associated with this project are huge. And even if part of these costs are offset by generous transfers from the Federal Government to the capital of the country, the national civitas, they still suffocate local government and limit the development of this city-state.
Cost of transportation is one of the most important negative externalities of Brasília. As well as is most Brazil’s other cities the modal system on wheels far outweighs the scarce kilometers of rails, besides being the largest source of urban pollution. Brasilia’s road systemis gigantic and too onerous.
From the environmental point of view the Federal District’s low populational density generates two consequences. The first is the positive side of plenty of green areas, high level of rainwater infiltration, many birds and, not infrequently, wild animals roaming at night in deserted spaces. The second,however, is negative, resulting of the fact that its vast territorial extent generates high costs since unlike a “normal” Brazilian city Brasilia does not present contiguous economic agglomerations.
The city-state houses more than seventy parks, in addition to a National Park and huge reserves of cerrado (a kind of savannah vegetation) and has, in its perimeter, water springs of clear water, at the top of the specific technical classification. These springs generate streams most of them supplying the main lake, the Paranoá, after crossing neighborhoods, administrative regions and ‘satelitte cities’.
An essay to organize these variables into a holistic system, trying to reconciliate economic, environmental and social interests is under way through a project of Economic and Environmental Zoning – EEZ”, which is being conducted by public hearings, a space for the exercise of citizenship.
But to my surprise a curious kind of mobilization is emerging. In elegant, very low-density neighborhoods with two-floors houses with large lawns and orchards, there are many people assuming a posture of missionaries of the environment, preaching isolation and segregation of their homes and neighborhoods. I referr to the kind of people who seem to abhor stores, gas stations, public spaces and public transportation, and even bicycle and pedestrian lanes.
They are privileged people who do not care about if their neighbors have to travel dozens of miles a day,to take their children to schools, gymnasiums and ballet, or to buy food, medicine, clothes, whatever. Their objective seems to be to keep a distance from others, under the sacred mantle of preservation of the environment,.
Their use of false environmentalist flags, if not restrained by wiser guidance, may lead to the undesired path of social aparthei. This is the last thing we need in a country where inequality already prevails and where it lacks an effective approach to urban planning. We have to beware!
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