By Vijay Darda | 04-06-2018
Land is turning barren, rivers going dry, forest getting denuded, air getting polluted, things are not hunky-dory any more!
Alarming as it is, a recent report by the Centre for Science and Environment has shocked me. The report states that by 2030, 21 cities in India will be ‘dead zero’ as far as availability of water is concerned. The ‘dead zero’ means an extreme shortage of water when citizens would crave for every drop of water. The cities to get affected by this phenomenon will include the financial capital of the country, Mumbai, as well as Amravati and Solapur. There is no reason to disbelieve this report because we can already see the plight of Shimla, the tourist spot which figures in this list. Recently, people in Shimla could not get drinking water for 11 days! The acute scarcity of water is not a phenomenon exclusive to India. Ten cities of the world have already joined the dead zero list. Today whether it is South Africa’s Cape Town or Mexico City or Istanbul, they are all struggling for every drop of potable water.
But the moot question is, has this situation cropped up suddenly? Of course not! It is our materialistic hunger and lax government policies that are responsible for this situation. Do you know that about 100 crore people in the world cannot get pure drinking water. Those whose financial condition is fine, they either install water purifier at home or use bottled water, but what about the common man? The World Health Organisation report says that the situation is worse in developing countries, where about 22 lakh people die of water borne diseases every year. The situation in India is no less frightening. Every year thousands of people are killed by the outbreak of diarrhoea and jaundice. Lamentably, our governments have failed consistently in providing clean drinking water to the people. Statistics of the Government of India and the Central Pollution Control Board show that 68 crore Indians use groundwater and more than 50 per cent of India’s groundwater is contaminated. The water of rivers and lakes has also become polluted.
Now look at what is happening to our earth. If you study different research reports then a terrible reality comes to the fore. Nearly 25 percent of the world’s land has become barren. Different regions of nearly 100 countries of the world are considered to be drought-affected. Most of these lands will turn barren in the coming decades. There is no water for irrigation. Now even those rivers have started to dry which one never imagined will ever go dry. The rains have become unpredictable. Besides, the indiscriminate use of chemical fertilisers to increase the yield and the repeated cultivation of crops is weakening the nutrients in the soil. The carbon value in the soil should ideally be from 1 to 1.5 but in the larger part of the country the value has decreased to 0.3 to 0.4. The use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides on a large scale in agriculture is affecting the life of human beings. We have abandoned the traditional style of dung and neem manure. If we have to save our soil, we will have to return to cow dung and neem manure. India needs to be especially cautious because our share of the world’s total land is only 2.5 per cent, whereas 16 per cent of the world’s population lives here.
We the humans have harmed every element of the environment by our actions. Even our air has become so polluted that we are suffering from various diseases. The pollution in the cities has assumed such alarming proportions that our lungs have started to get tired. Asthma is spreading rapidly. The incidents of smog in different cities of the country are occurring many times a year. People who burn the stubble do not think that their actions can be deadly for crores of people. The government also does not exercise any vigilance in this matter. More than that, no attention is paid to the vehicular pollution. Auto rickshaws and trucks, which run in almost every city and town of the country, release the most carbon monoxide in the air. The vehicles which were supposed to be in junkyard, are still lying on the road. The government should take strict action against them.
The most tragic aspect is that the trees that control the pollution are being mercilessly cut down. The forest cover is on the constant decline. We should understand that destruction of forests is actually destruction of mankind. Government will have to make a lot of efforts to reverse the trend. On personal level, each one of us needs to contribute to preserve environment. The more trees we plant, the better our environment will be; the more rainwater we allow to percolate to the ground, the luckier our generations will be. And yes, we must get plastic out of our life as it is the biggest enemy of the environment.
I would like to ask the government as to how much it is aware about its own production units spreading pollution. I have been a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Environment and I have visited factories, forests and have seen the condition of rivers. Electricity, steel and fertiliser units are spreading pollution. Same is the case with liquor factories. Why is the government not stopping this pollution? The plight of the Ganga is visible to everybody. I really feel like telling Donald Trump to come and take a dip in the Ganga so that our government is shamed and the holy river is cleaned!
I congratulate the Chhattisgarh government which has raised a new forest cover near Raipur and built a network of lakes. But it is sad to see the plight of Chandrapur in Maharashtra which has become the most polluted city. Union home minister Hansraj Ahir and State finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar come from this area. The programme of the state government to plant crores of trees is welcome but curbing environmental pollution should be the first priority.
Before I conclude…
This order of the Madras High Court that children of the first and second standard should not be given any homework is indeed very welcome. Actually childhood should not be destroyed in the name of studies. Childhood is full of curiosities and sports and stories fulfill that curiosity. Today’s schooling in fact emphasises on making children bookish.
We will achieve nothing merely by celebrating the Environment Day and expressing some concerns on the occasion. We have to ignite the desire within us to save nature so that we could hope for a better tomorrow. Today’s reality is that if we continue to meddle with nature like this, the day is not far when the humanity will be pushed to the verge of extinction.