Do the CW Games in 2010 have anything to do with Delhi’s environment? A lot.
These Games will bring to India not only tourism, infrastructure, wealth and profits, but also pollution, traffic jams and deforestation. Delhi, already under the strain of high levels of haze and smog, will be further blinded.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI), which holds the overall responsibility of conducting these Games, has proposed infrastructural upgradations, which include overhauling and building up of various new stadiums and buildings, in the already congested Delhi. Where will the land for all these come from? The answer is, first, banks of the river Yamuna, and, secondly, the green belts in Delhi.
The project of Games Village has been earmarked Rs. 1350 crore by the Delhi Government. About 4% of the work has already been completed on this much-controversial project; the High Court had stayed it after environmental concerns were raised. The PIL petition filed by environmentalists argues that its construction would affect groundwater recharge and environment regeneration. The Yamuna River, already in the grip of high levels of toxic and non-degradable wastes cannot be stressed further, it says. The residents of East Delhi and Noida are witnesses to the fact that the underground water table has gone down by 200% in the last two years.
In the same vein, Delhi will witness the construction and overhauling of over a dozen venues, the key ones being the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, the Indira Gandhi Stadium, the Major Dhyanchand Stadium, the SP Mukherjee Swimming Complex and the Talkatora Stadium. On the top of it, Tyagaraj Complex in Tyagaraj Nagar is also a major project. So, basically, Delhi is all set to lose another portion of its lungs- the trees, for some more concrete.
Apart from the above mentioned changes in infrastructure, the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) and the public transport system are being worked upon. To improve the state of public utilities in the city, the Government has ordered 2500 low-floor buses to Tata Motors.
Ordering new buses is indeed a good initiative towards improving public utilities; however, not curtailing the mammoth sale of cars in the Capital is a failure. About 1000 cars roll out daily on Capital roads, and their sales are ever increasing. No wonder, the number of cars in Delhi will some day compare the number of citizens! On another front, Tata motors has a capacity of producing only 100 buses per month, and still hasn’t been able to completely deliver the earlier order of 500 buses. Thus, expecting Tata to produce 2500 buses in following one year is foolish dream.
A significant development in Delhi has been that of the Metro Rail. It has made life easier for the lakhs of Delhiites who commute by it every week. But, it too comes at a cost. The Hindu reports that over 3000 trees have already been chopped off in Delhi for its construction. Although the DMRC had promised to plant 10 saplings for every tree it cuts, it remains to be seen how dutifully they’ve fulfilled this promise. I have visited the sites at Najafgarh drain and Karkola, where the DMRC claims to have planted saplings. I found nothing but rubble there.
Another recent accident mars the reputation of the DMRC. On 19th October, 2008, an overhead Metro bridge under construction collapsed in Laxmi Nagar in East Delhi, causing the death of two people and seriously injuring over 15 people. It fell on a Blueline bus, two cars and two trailers. This unfortunate incident clearly demonstrates the pressure under which construction companies have to work against the over-ambitious deadlines set by the DMRC in view of the Games in 2010.
The government boasts of building 78 bridges and 20 under-passes in the Capital. Not surprisingly, inspite of the behemoth expenditure on flyovers and road expansion, the average driving speed in Delhi has plummeted. It is so true that Delhi now measures its distances in hours rather than in kilometers, as BJP says.
Now, add to this 2500 buses, and an additional 2 million cars that’ll be sold by then (including the Nano), and it turns out that the cumulative length of vehicles will compare the total length of roads in Delhi. This implies that there’ll be no space left! It may seem impossible, but statistics prove this fact.
Another problem associated with vehicles is that of air pollution. Vehicles running on petrol and diesel produce lethal amount of carbon dioxide, which is harmful to human beings, animals and atmosphere. India ranks 4th after USA, China and Russia, among the countries which have the highest levels of total, as well as per capita, CO2 emission. It is worth noting here that China and USA have taken this problem seriously, and have formed laws to curb the sales of further vehicles, while limiting the use of existing ones. China, in particular, has been successfully able to promote public transport by controlling the above mentioned problems by a whopping 10% in the last one year itself.
Do I need to conclude my article? I don’t think so. I’m sure all of you are smart enough to judge where to we are heading- as I said: towards Development or towards Disaster? This is a question very important to all of us; it is not just a hot topic to discuss or debate on- it is our future.
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