Fo­cus In­dian Pol­lu­tion Mr. Champ!

After be­ing con­ferred high­est en­vi­ron­men­tal award from the UN, peo­ple of In­dia is look­ing to­wards its PM to solve their pol­lu­tion re­lated prob­lems

The Day After - - FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK - By HumrA Qu­rAiSHi Feed­back on:re­porter@dayaf­

Now that the coun­try’s Prime Min­is­ter, Naren­dra Modi, has been awarded with the United Na­tion’s high­est en­vi­ron­men­tal hon­our the ‘Cham­pi­ons of the Earth Award’, can we, the masses of this coun­try, ex­pect to see and ex­pe­ri­ence a cleaner en­vi­ron­ment? Go­ing by the re­ports of the last fort­night the air pol­lu­tion lev­els are peak­ing in and around the cap­i­tal city, New Delhi. Blame this pol­lu­tion on the chang­ing weather con­di­tions, but the fact re­mains that air pol­lu­tion is get­ting back …and as au­tumn fur­thers, the fe­ro­cious­ness of the pol­lut­ing en­vi­ron­ment will fur­ther its grip of us. After all, en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion can­not be con­trolled or re­duced by speeches alone! Not by half-hearted mea­sures and def­i­nitely not by po­lit­i­cal tac­tics.

And if one were to travel some­what out of the con­fines of the cap­i­tal city’s Lu­tyens’ zone the re­al­i­ties to pol­lu­tion and pol­lu­tants will choke the very senses. Worst af­fected are the con­fines of the old city and the new dwellings. Mod­ern day slums and ghet­tos, just about few kilo­me­tres away from where the gov­ern­ment’s sites a large sec­tion of the cap­i­tal city’s pop­u­la­tion sur­vive in the most ad­verse cir­cum­stances. These hap­less haven’t heard terms like en­vi­ron­men­tal changes or cli­matic dis­as­ters in- the mak­ing but all that they have been see­ing are dis­as­ters tak­ing place right in front of their eyes - piles of garbage, chocked sew­ers, filth rid­den lanes, strays and their deadly bites, mos­qui­toes bring­ing along malaria and dengue and death…They live ev­ery sin­gle day in an en­vi­ron­ment which is not even fit for the wild crea­tures. Yet the thick skinned us do not re­act. Not a word in terms of protest, or a pierc­ing out­cry.

What may sur­prise many is that even age old, tra­di­tional cities look bur­dened or say over- bur­dened with pol­lu­tants. What hap­pened to all those prom­ises of clean­ing of the Ganga? What­ever lies the fate of the famed ghats and the in­ner en­cir­cling mo­hal­las of Varanasi? In fact, if re­search is con­ducted on the ap­palling con­di­tions

of our old her­itage cities then our heads will hand in shame. Yes, our age old cities are crum­bling and dy­ing be­cause of the en­vi­ron­men­tal mess com­pound­ing the po­lit­i­cal dis­as­ters around.

Not too long back, vil­lages and mo­fussil towns were con­sid­ered to be safer, at least where en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns were con­cerned, but no longer. With re­fin­ery plants and unau­tho­rized fac­to­ries and

karkhanas set up by the lo­cal land and po­lit­i­cal mafia , the at­mos­phere is rid­dled with dan­ger­ous lev­els of pol­lu­tants. But no­body would dare to close them as the nexus be­tween the politi­cian and the po­lice come in way. The dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tion seems all too help­less.

Those tra­di­tional get­away des­ti­na­tions, the moun­tains of North In­dia, are also wit­ness­ing changes along a cer­tain strain. Last sum­mer when I trav­elled to­wards Muk­tesh­war and Naini­tal, forests looked dwin­dling and in­stead parched lands stared out. Why? The mon­key pop­u­la­tion has grown and they are a threat not just to the farm­ers and his pro­duce but also the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion. And with lop­sided gov­ern­men­tal poli­cies, no­body can dare up­root the mon­keys! I was told that lo­cal farm­ers were sell­ing their land at throw­away price be­cause of the mon­key fear, which is ag­gra­vat­ing as truck­loads of mon­key are trans­ported there rather too of­fi­cially, from Western Ut­tar Pradesh.

Com­pound­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal mess are the po­lit­i­cal pol­lu­tants. Pol­luted lies the very at­mos­phere. Vi­o­lence has been ac­cel­er­at­ing in the last four years, peak­ing as never be­fore. To­day you and I can be killed, lynched, threat­ened, on any pos­si­ble al­ibi – right from sell­ing cat­tle to trad­ing in beef, if not cook­ing and con­sum­ing it. Not to over­look the other dreaded al­ibi for get­ting hacked and hounded in to­day’s so called ‘de­vel­oped’ times - the BP coined love jihad , where a Mus­lim or a Hindu has to think a hun­dred times be­fore dar­ing to fall in love and marry the ‘other’ ! No ex­pla­na­tions or counter ex­pla­na­tions are sought and, of course, no hope of pro­tec­tion by the po­lit­i­cal rulers of the day that seem hell bent on fol­low­ing a di­vi­sive agenda.

And as 2019 nears, the po­lit­i­cal ral­lies and the con­nected af­ter­math will only drag along dis­as­ters of the worst kinds. It’s shock­ing that po­lit­i­cal speeches of the who’s who do not dwell on the health dis­as­ters star­ing at us. None of the ris­ing can­cer and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and asthma fig­ures fined a men­tion in any of the po­lit­i­cal speeches. Why this ap­a­thy? Why this strange over­look? Why this by­pass? After all, can’t the rulers of the day see the grief stricken and pale and mal­nour­ished faces of those they seem to be ad­dress­ing! Nah, hood­wink­ing!

If kings and bad­shahs of yesteryears killed at one sin­gle go, to­day’s po­lit­i­cal rulers are killing us day after day. We are get­ting choked to death, liv­ing in a po­lit­i­cally and en­vi­ron­men­tally pol­luted en­vi­ron­ment.

Garbage in the Ganges River in Varanasi, In­dia A farmer burns rice stalks in Pun­jab

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