Is it the poor only who pollute?

It cannot be denied that the poor population of the country has a major share in polluting the environment. They are not properly educated and are not aware of the harmful effects of many of their activities. Burning ‘chullhas’ for cooking purposes emits a lot of carbon monoxide and pollutes the environment. Most of them do not have proper bathrooms and hence use the nearby rivers or ponds to do their washing and bathing. In winters, to keep themselves warm, they burn wood or coal, leading to more air pollution. Even their sanitation is not proper, and hence causes various kinds of diseases due to poor hygiene. (Not that that is their fault, but it nevertheless remains a fact). Deforestation, killing of animals, smoking ‘bidis’ further disturbs the balance of nature.

But is the poor only who pollute? We say they are illiterate. What about the educated masses who know every bit of the consequences of pollution? They are fully informed but still engage in acts that pollute the environment. Most of the pujas, havans, and all are carried on in the rich and the middle-income households. In the name of god, many are actually badly affecting the air we breathe. I’m sure God can be pleased in other ways too. Ashes of dead bodies are thrown in rivers, and it is this water that many people drink, considering it to be holy. Furthermore, the number of vehicles on the roads is increasing tremendously, leading to jammed roads and so much pollution. Factory owners who have the riches, have a major share in polluting both the air, and the water, because they dump their waste material in there. The use of polybags is also increasing by the day which further deteriorates the quality of the soil. Use of air conditioners, refrigerators etc. emit gases which affects the ozone layer of the earth.

The consequences of pollution are borne both by the rich and the poor, but it is the poor who tend to end up suffering more. They derive their living mainly from nature, and hence are affected to a greater extent. Adding to this is the fact that they do not even have money to buy thing or conduct activities in a manner that does not pollute. For example, bathing requires proper bathrooms. These people live mostly in ‘jhuggis’ where this facility is not available and hence find no alternative but to use the common water. Since the urban poor lives in unrecognized slums, they do not have access to cleaner fuel which is LPG and hence have to resort to the hazardous chulhas mostly.

Perhaps it is true that the poor pollute. But so do we – we the literate masses. We certainly have more money and more facilities to stop environmental pollution; why don’t we do so? Aren’t we bothered about our future generations? We crib about poor harming the environment, but what are we doing? Education makes people think. Yet, even after knowing what is wrong, we still let the Yamuna and Ganga remain polluted. We still use our cars to travel to even small distances like the next block. We waste electricity and use the aerosols which contain the harmful CFCs. .

We the ‘literate’ masses of the nation must join hands and help the poor become aware of pollution. Also, steps must be taken to provide them with proper channels and funds to improve their living conditions.Furthermore, we must ourselves also take concrete steps to stop mercilessly polluting the environment. Our nation and our Earth needs to be protected and sustained, not only for us, but also for the sake of the future generations. .

Aparna Vyas

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