Monday, January 4, 2016

Air pollution is symptom , not a disease.

The beginning of the year was a bit unusual. All our TV channels were busy reporting live coverage of not an entertainment event but implementation of the odd-even scheme launched in Delhi to curb the menace of the air pollution. One may agree or disagree with this small step but no one can deny the fact that some drastic and strict measures are required to keep our next generation in good health and make our cities - a place worth living.

Air pollution is not a problem in itself but the manifestation or the outcome of a series of wrong doing which we all as a society have been doing for decades now. It is more to deal with our faulty economic development, the degradation of the social values and the failure of the administrative machinery.Perhaps the biggest contributor is centralized opportunities of livelihood in big cities. The mass migration of people from village to big cities in search of opportunities in itself talks a lot about our skewed development. No matter what we plan things can not improve in cities unless this migration stops. The real solution is to provide opportunities at village / small cities level.

Personal mode of transport – the target segment of the odd-even scheme is another area. It has its origin from both i.e. economic as well as social reasons. Our public transport system is not that good particularly the last mile connectivity and hence people are forced to have their own vehicle. But the social status attached with owning a “big car” is also a great contributor. The filthy way of wealth display is making inroad in our social system. Many a times “log kya kahenge” is the real decision making factor rather than the real need. Here is the need of social intervention. If our role models from the different walks of life start using public transport – masses would follow.

The failure and the corrupt practices of our administrative machinery add more to this issue. They cannot do anything pro-actively. They need the “danda” kind of follow up from Judiciary or NGT to do something which they are expected to do on their own. “Save Environmental” has become the biggest catch word giving a good opportunity for crooks to make money. The failure of “Clean Ganga / Yamuna” kinds of schemes is glaring examples where crores have gone in to drain without any visible impact. Rules are there in books, the issue is of implementation. One of the bigger polluters – the real estate companies do not follow prescribed norms. Few months back I was passing through the Noida Extension locality and could feel the level of pollution there coming from the worksites. One can only have a sense of empathy for the families who are to stay there with young kids because of economic reasons.

We cannot expect miracle from this small initiative of the Delhi Govt. But it would surely have a long lasting impact on the thought process. The involvement of the young student in the campaign is really worth appreciating. If they get sensitivized – things would definitely improve by the time our next gen gets in to driver’s seat.