Prince Charles Builds Eco-Friendly ‘Utopia’ in India

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Britain's Prince Charles dances with villagers at Tolasar village near Jodhpur in India's state of Rajasthan on October 5, 2010. REUTERS/Sunil Verma

By going green and dreaming big in an impoverished area of the sub-continent, the Prince of Wales may earn yet another title: Slumdog Millionheir.

Prince Charles has plans to transform 25-acres of wasteland on the outskirts of Calcutta or Bangalore into an oasis of sustainability. The unnamed town, which will be modeled on his existing eco-friendly development in Poundbury, England, will feature a dense network of homes similar to those in India’s shantytowns. But unlike those makeshift developments that typically lack sewage facilities, the town will have palm trees that hang overhead to collect rainwater that will be used for showering, washing and sanitation before being recycled to water plants. Their shade and natural ventilation will also help keep residents cool in a region that routinely cracks 100 degrees.

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In addition to championing environmental causes, Charles has fought for the rights of low-caste Indians for decades. As such, the town will provide low-cost housing to workers from those lower castes. Construction, funded by the Prince’s Foundation for the Built ­Environment, begins this autumn.

Charles drew inspiration for the project from Mumbai’s Dharavi slum—featured in the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire—which he visited in February 2009. He heaped praise on the town upon his return. “When you enter what looks from the outside like an immense mound of plastic and rubbish, you immediately come upon an intricate network of streets with miniature shops, houses and workshops, each one made out of any material that comes to hand,” he said at the time. “We have a great deal to learn about how complex ­systems can self-organise to ­create a harmonious whole.” (via Daily Mail)

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