Reading Comprehension – The magic of squatter cities is that they are improved


Slot – 2 – RC

The magic of squatter cities is that they are improved – Video Solution


The magic of squatter cities is that they are improved steadily and gradually by their residents. To a planner’s eye, these cities look chaotic. I trained as a biologist and to my eye, they look organic. Squatter cities are also unexpectedly green. They have maximum density —1 million people per square mile in some areas of Mumbai—and have minimum energy and material use. People get around by foot, bicycle, rickshaw, or the universal shared taxi.

Not everything is efficient in the slums, though. In the Brazilian favelas where electricity is stolen and therefore free, people leave their lights on all day. But in most slums recycling is literally a way of life. The Dharavi slum in Mumbai has 400 recycling units and 30,000 ragpickers. Six thousand tons of rubbish are sorted every day. In 2007, the Economist reported that in Vietnam and Mozambique, “Waves of gleaners sift the sweepings of Hanoi’s streets, just as Mozambiquan children pick over the rubbish of Maputo’s main tip. Every city in Asia and Latin America has an industry based on gathering up old cardboard boxes.” . . .

In his 1985 article, Calthorpe made a statement that still jars with most people: “The city is the most environmentally benign form of human settlement. Each city dweller consumes less land, less energy, less water, and produces less pollution than his counterpart in settlements of lower densities.” “Green Manhattan” was the inflammatory title of a 2004 New Yorker article by David Owen. “By the most significant measures,” he wrote, “New York is the greenest community in the United States and one of the greenest cities in the world . . . The key to New York’s relative environmental benignity is its extreme compactness. . . . Placing one and a half million people on a twenty-three-square-mile island sharply reduces their opportunities to be wasteful.” He went on to note that this very compactness forces people to live in the world’s most energy-efficient apartment buildings. . . .

Urban density allows half of humanity to live on 2.8 percent of the land. . . . Consider just the infrastructure efficiencies. According to a 2004 UN report: “The concentration of population and enterprises in urban areas greatly reduces the unit cost of piped water, sewers, drains, roads, electricity, garbage collection, transport, health care, and schools.” . . .

[T]he nationally subsidised city of Manaus in northern Brazil “answers the question” of how to stop deforestation: give people decent jobs. Then they can afford houses, and gain security. One hundred thousand people who would otherwise be deforesting the jungle around Manaus are now prospering in town making such things as mobile phones and televisions. . . .

Of course, fast-growing cities are far from an unmitigated good. They concentrate crime, pollution, disease, and injustice as much as a business, innovation, education and entertainment. . . . But if they are overall a net good for those who move there, it is because cities offer more than just jobs. They are transformative: in the slums, as well as the office towers and leafy suburbs, the progress is from hick to metropolitan to cosmopolitan . . .

Q.1 Which one of the following statements would undermine the author’s stand regarding the greenness of cities?
  1. The compactness of big cities in the West increases the incidence of violent crime.
  2. Sorting through rubbish contributes to the rapid spread of diseases in the slums.
  3. The high density of cities leads to an increase in carbon dioxide and global warming.
  4. Over the last decade the cost of utilities has been increasing for city dwellers.
Answer: 3

Q.2 From the passage it can be inferred that cities are good places to live in for all of the following reasons EXCEPT that they:
  1. help prevent destruction of the environment.
  2. offer employment opportunities.
  3. contribute to the cultural transformation of residents.
  4. have suburban areas as well as office areas.
Answer: 4

Q.3 In the context of the passage, the author refers to Manaus in order to:
  1. explain where cities source their labour for factories.
  2. explain how urban areas help the environment.
  3. describe the infrastructure efficiencies of living in a city.
  4. promote cities as employment hubs for people.
Answer: 2

Q.4 According to the passage, squatter cities are environment-friendly for all of the following reasons EXCEPT:
  1. their transportation is energy efficient.
  2. they sort out garbage.
  3. they recycle material.
  4. their streets are kept clean.
Answer: 4

Q.5 We can infer that Calthorpe’s statement “still jars” with most people because most people:
  1. consider cities to be very crowded and polluted.
  2. do not regard cities as good places to live in.
  3. regard cities as places of disease and crime.
  4. do not consider cities to be eco-friendly places.
Answer: 4
Explanation: This passage is written in a narrative style conducive to a magazine article. In this passage, the author discusses the advantages that cities and urban settlements have on the environment. In slums, there are vast recycling industries of almost every material conceivable and most people travel on environmentally friendly modes of transport such as rickshaws or bicycles or on foot.
The author quotes Calthorpe who is of the opinion that cities are the environmentally most benign form of human settlement since each city dweller consumes less land, less energy, less water, and produces less pollution than his counterpart in settlements of lower densities. The concentration of population and enterprises in urban areas greatly reduces the unit cost of piped water, sewers, drains, roads, electricity, garbage collection, transport, health care, and schools.
The author though also offers some disadvantages of cities. They concentrate crime, pollution, disease and injustice as much as business, innovation, education and entertainment. However, he ends the passage by stating another advantage that cities possess; they have a transformative effect on people.

Solution 1: Option 1 is incorrect as “violent crime” does not have an adverse impact on the environment.
Option 2 is also incorrect as “the rapid spread of diseases” does not directly impact upon the environment.
Option 3 is the correct answer. If the high density of cities leads to an increase in carbon dioxide and global warming then it would undermine the author’s assertion that cities are relatively environmentally benign.
Option 4 is also incorrect. Increased cost of utilities is not likely to have an adverse impact on the environment.
Hence, the correct answer is option 3.

Solution 2: The passage clearly implies that cities are relatively more “green” than other less densely populated areas. Therefore, option 1 can be inferred and is not the correct answer.
Cities do offer employment opportunities. Refer to paragraph 6. Thus, option 2 can also be inferred and is eliminated.
Cities do contribute to the “transformation” of residents. Thus, option 3 can also be inferred and is also eliminated.
Option 4 has not been mentioned in the passage at all. The passage has not demarcated cities into suburban and office areas. Therefore, option 4 cannot be inferred and is the correct answer.
Hence, the correct answer is option 4.

Solution 3: The relevant extract in paragraph 5, “[T]he nationally subsidised city of Manaus in northern Brazil “answers the question” of how to stop deforestation: give people decent jobs. Then they can afford houses, and gain security. One hundred thousand people who would otherwise be deforesting the jungle around Manaus are now prospering in town making such things as mobile phones and televisions. . . .” clearly reveals that urbanization has led to less destruction of the environment in Manaus. This points to option 2 as being the correct answer.
Option 1 is incorrect and cannot be inferred from the passage.
Option 3 is also incorrect as the example of Manaus is given to show how jobs and urbanization has led to less destruction of the environment.
All cities are employment hubs for people and not just Manaus. Eliminate option 4.
Hence, the correct answer is option 2.

Solution 4: Refer to paragraphs 1 and 2 of the passage. Most residents in squatter cities travel on foot, by rickshaw or by bicycle. Therefore, their transportation can be said to be energy efficient. Eliminate option 1.
The author gives the example of the slum at Dharavi which has 30,000 rag pickers and in which six thousand tons of rubbish are sorted every day. Eliminate option 2.
Again the author gives the example of the slum at Dharavi which has 400 recycling units. He goes on to say that every city in Asia and South America has an industry based on gathering old cardboard boxes. Eliminate option 3.
Option 4 has not been stated in the passage.
Hence, the correct answer is option 4.

Solution 5: Refer to the relevant extract in paragraph 3, ‘In his 1985 article, Calthorpe made a statement that still jars with most people: “The city is the most environmentally benign form of human settlement. Each city dweller consumes less land, less energy, less water, and produces less pollution than his counterpart in settlements of lower densities.”’ This statement jars with most people because the conventional wisdom up until that time was that cities were actually very destructive towards the environment. Note that the passage is about the relative benign impact of cities on the environment. This points to option 4 as being the correct answer.
“Crowded”, “polluted”, “disease” and “crime” are characteristics of city life which the author has mentioned as negatives of living in cities but he has gone on to conclude the passage by also stating the positive impacts of living in cities and by suggesting that the positives of living in cities outweigh the negatives. Secondly, these negative facets of city life are not relevant to Calthorpe’s statement which was solely about the environmental impact that cities have. Thus, options 1, 2 and 3 can be eliminated.
Hence, the correct answer is option 4.



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