Going down the memory lanes, I profoundly remember the time spent around playing in the rainy season, basking in the purity of the fresh drops of water, relishing the sweet joy of monsoons. But today, it’s not the same.
Not that I have grown up, but the surroundings that we grow in produce toxic wastes that contaminate the water – both up and below the earth.
Ours is a developing nation, a power to reckon 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, at the first place? Why must development come at the cost of our planet?
We argue with the developed nations and question if they can produce certain amounts of carbon emissions, so can we. But somewhere down 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 all this at the cost of what – the contaminated Ganges (the most polluted river in the world – the cause of 80% of health problems and 1/3rd 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% 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 extincting 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 fresh before the election period.
Non Government 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 government; whose grasp, believe me, is bigger than that 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 kings. Our politicians, who constitutionally, are meant to serve the country, but ironically, they rule the country – in none less harsh way than the Britishers. Recently exposed multi-billion dollar scams are a testimony to this.
Second hand earnings – the sweet delicacies after a fulfilling lunch, are a favorite 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 the doom seems near.
The coalgate scam, perhaps, a wholesale destruction of the environment, has shed light on the apathy that the ministry shows towards environmental issues. As a matter of fact, there has been widespread corruption even in the mining area – the state of Karnataka reported illegal mining scam a few months back.
Over the past 30 years, which includes the regimes of both NDA and UPA governments, only 6 percent of the proposed industrial projects have been revoked on environmental basis. Between the years 2007 and 2011, 8000 projects were given clearance. Still, more shocking was approval of 180 mining projects by MoEF, given the situation that most of the projects are designated for critically polluted regions and one-third of the existing mines have been violating the pollution standards.
Adding to the existing foes of environment, the Government of India has tapped the funds allocated for afforestation, citing the increasing green cover in the country.
Hah!! If only our ministers could have been more reasonable.
The reality is that the so termed ‘increasing forest cover’ is mostly plantation of single specie timber trees.
The latest target of the ever-expanding ‘ministry-hit natural resources’ list is Water – chemically H2O, biologically the basis of all life on Earth. The Union Ministry in January this year proposed 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 all this ‘high level‘ policy making, what our ‘extremely intelligent‘ ministers forgot is, water is a common – it can not be owned as a private property or sold as a commodity. The Right to clean water is the most basic Human Right and privatization of water, under this prospective, is a violation of the Constitution of India.
The 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 in all facets of life.