Going down memory lane, I profoundly remember the time spent playing in the rainy season, basking in the purity of fresh drops of water, relishing the sweet joy of the monsoons. But today, it’s not the same.
Not because I have grown up, but the surroundings that we live in produce toxic wastes that contaminate water – both on the surface and below the earth (not the best way to relish the monsoon rain).
Ours is a developing nation, a power to reckon with in years to come, but does that give us the right to mar the environment and natural resources? No, perhaps not. And why should it, in the first place? Why must development come at the cost of our planet?
We argue with the developed nations and demand if they can produce a certain amount of carbon emissions, so can we. But somewhere in our approach, in our fight to become rich and developed – to become the West, we forget that richness lies in the virginity of our environment and the abundance of our natural resources, which we are constantly exhausting or more appropriately, devouring.
Cities in India are expanding, exclusive societies are coming up, people are migrating – becoming ‘rich’; but at what cost? The contaminated Ganges (the most polluted river in the world – the cause of 80 percent of health problems and one-third of all deaths in India: holy, isn’t it??),the irresponsibly disposed solid waste (0.1 million tonnes of municipal solid waste generated in India everyday; only 5 percent disposed properly), the perennial drought conditions (estimating to an economic damage of 2.6 million USD annually) or the persistent deforestation (the major cause behind subsequent hotter Indian summers and depleting wildlife species)??
We recite the benefits of sustainable development, but for what – only to blabber and do nothing? Our government officials go to Environmental Summits, discuss agendas, come back and then sleep; just to awake afresh before elections.
Non Governmental Organisations, Non-Profit Organisations and certain good-willed institutions and individuals have been working and fighting for better surroundings and climate, only to find themselves screwed at the hands of the government; whose grasp, believe me, is bigger than the catchment area of an earthquake.
The politicians in India rule everything. As an analogy to this, I would like to speak of the British rule in India – they came as traders (East India Company) and then became the rulers. Our politicians, who constitutionally, are meant to serve the nation, in fact, rule it – in no less harsh a way than the British. Recently exposed multi-billion dollar scams are a testimony to this.
Second hand earnings – the sweet delicacies after a fulfilling lunch, are a favourite amongst Indian bureaucrats. As if the recent telecom scam (soaring to the tunes of 1.75 trillion rupees) wasn’t enough, the government jet-crashed the country with the coal scam, popularly known as the Coalgate (dancing high at 1.86 lakh crore rupees). The most disgraceful thing being, playing with the natural resources of the country –pushing the bruised mother earth into a valley too deep to rise, a valley filled with malice and greed, from where, nothing else, but doom seems near.
The Coalgate scam, perhaps, a wholesale destruction of the environment, has shed light on the apathy that the government shows towards environmental issues. As a matter of fact, there has been widespread corruption in the mining area – the state of Karnataka reported an illegal mining scam a few months back.
Over the past 30 years, which includes the regimes of both the National Democratic Alliance and the United Progressive Alliance governments, only 6 percent of all proposed industrial projects have been revoked on an environmental basis. Between the years 2007 and 2011, 8000 projects were given clearance. Still, more shocking was the approval of 180 mining projects by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, when most of the projects are in critically polluted regions and one-third of the existing mines have been violating the pollution standards.
Adding to the existing foes of the environment, the Government of India has tapped the funds allocated for planting trees, citing the increasing green cover in the country.
Hah!! If only our ministers could have been more reasonable.
The reality is that the so-called ‘increasing forest cover’ is mostly plantation of single specie timber trees.
The newest target to be added to the ever-expanding list of ‘ministry-hit natural resources’ is water – chemically H2O, and biologically the basis of all life on Earth.
The Union Ministry in January this year proposed the National Water Policy, encouraging privatization of water, removal of agricultural subsidies on water and electricity, and promoting giving out of incentives to private sector companies for them to recycle and reuse water.
In this entire “high level” policy making, what our “extremely intelligent” ministers forgot is, water is a common – it cannot be owned as a private property or sold as a commodity. The right to have access to clean water is the most basic human right, and privatization of water, under this prospective, is a violation of the Constitution of India.
This grim scenario of water and coal highlights the gloomy state of politics in India, and trapped in it, the citizens and their natural resources – brutally vandalized and looted by the government, demanding an end to the widespread corruption in all facets of life.
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