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

By Humra Quraishi

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 throw-away 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.