S Kunjabihari Singh
Plantation could be only one important factor for reducing pollution, for helping sustaining the atmosphere and maintaining the eco-system. A host of other measures are called for to arrest the rise in global warming. Global warming is a major issue; how to minimize it or maintain within acceptable levels, is yet another complex area. The ‘green house effect’ which can be construed as the summation of the air or atmosphere or vapors that overlaps and surrounds the earth, is over the centuries, increasing gradually. Steady increase in the Earth’s average surface temperature due among others, heat retention caused by accumulation of greenhouse gases, causes what they call greenhouse effect. Major factors are said to be the effect of massive industrialization, deforestation, even wild fire, like the ones in the USA right now, which happen almost regularly in Australia, excessive release of by-product of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere etc. Human activities mainly industrial revolution in the mid-nineteenth century, all over the continents distort the natural balance and thus add to the increase in the level of carbon dioxide resulting to the increasing rise in global warmth.
Experts put a figure of 40% increase in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on account of industrialization alone. A conservative estimate puts the likely rise in global warming by 2012 at 0.85 degree Celsius. It is predicted that this level could reach anything between 1 to 3.5 degree Celsius’, some 4 fold increase, in the next 100 years.
While increasing forest coverage largely through massive plantation in and around our habitats, any available space could be one major avenue, it’s only a small measure. Even refraining from driving for a day and thus reducing the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere could be a contribution to reducing earth’s temperature. The NCT government’s scheme of odd-even registration number of vehicles on the road, on specified days in the capital city, has been reported to be a great relief. The concept of car-pull to minimize the number of cars on the road, using buses, even cycles would ease the atmosphere to some extent. The introduction of CNG fuel in preference to petrol, in vehicles in Delhi is on account of this consideration.
The Earth Day, held on April 22, this year is basically to bring awareness to the people, the world over about the growing concerns about various forms of pollution of the air which we breathe. It is to remind mankind of the harmful effects of relentless consumption of the Earth’s natural resources, and the impending danger to the human race unless measures are taken to sensitize the people of the impending peril. Alternatives to supplement the measures to save the Earth have been deliberated world-wide; the common man has only to fall in line with these alternatives.
Most are within the reach of the common man; what is called for is the zeal to adopt, depending upon the level of awareness or otherwise. Simple things like, plant trees or even save trees, limit use of vehicles, save fuel, use cycles where feasible, use mass transport like buses go a long way in reducing pollution of our surroundings. Small things like switching off light when not in use, saving water in the households, on the face appear to be small steps but the benefit could be formidable when a billion people across the globe exercise it. The saying goes, “Electricity saved is electricity generated”.
The SC, this last Saturday, April 30, has ordered not to allow the plying of diesel and petrol-run private taxis on Delhi roads from the next day, Sunday the first May, 2016. Earlier the Apex Court in 1998 passed directions to the government to ensure switching over to CNG fuel to make Delhi’s air livable; had given several extensions of the deadline to enable the owners to switch over to CNG mode without much success. This time around the SC has rejected the appeal of the taxi owners for more time.
On this day the SC further went ahead in taking the role of a hard-task Head Master of a school by observing, “You wake up from your deep slumber when someone comes out with suggestion in court on the issue. What have you done so far? You need to be educated every time. You wait for someone to bring out some solution to court’s notice and then you would say that you would take step”. The Apex Court passed the observation when it was brought to its notice that there was technology available to make cars less polluting and the centre immediately lapped up the idea and assured the court that it would examine the new technology.
The concern is however, to bring about awareness of the issues to us all, the educated, the non-educated, the women groups, the children, the CSOs, even the government, as the SC was pulling up the GOI. The core issue is how to bring about a change, a shift in the mind set of the people, starting from the level of the locals, the leikais, the districts, the communities.
A California-based hydrologist Jay Famiglietti observes, “When it comes to drought, India is not alone. The world’s underground water reserves are depleting at an alarming rate.” According to him, India and Pakistan are sitting on the top of world’s most stressed aquifers, (body of rock that holds water or through which water flows), the Indus and the Ganges-Brahmaputra basin. According to one study he was associated with, the Rajasthan- Punjab-Haryana region was losing (pre -2009 study) about 17.7 cubic kilometers per year and is considered to be among the highest ground water depletion in the world. This loss is this day still on and now spreading across northern India and into Bangladesh. He opines, “I’m afraid that this does not bode well for India, now and into the future”.
Though there may not be quick-result solutions, the immediate concern could be about raising the level and quality of awareness of all the stake holders to the impending peril. Experts are of the unanimous view that changes to Earth’s water cycle are among the most palpable aspects of climate change. They warn that over the years, water cycle is intimately linked with climate change. Over the years, they are of the view that there have been drastic changes to water cycle and availability of fresh water with both flooding and drought becoming more extreme.
The World Earth Day, the World Environment Day could be occasions when these once-in-a-year observations have their meaningful significance conveyed to the public at large. That itself couldn’t be enough. Actions on the ground, actual and realistic implementation of the sub-programs, be they plantation, or cleaning of surroundings, the drains etc should constitute the core programs. This year the 67th Van Mahotsav would be held the world over.
What could be the direct or even indirect benefits the earth has gained in maintaining the atmosphere, more pointedly could the state has benefitted in any way, is a debatable. I remember the celebration of 60th Van Mahotsav in Manipur on July 4, 2009 at the historic Kheba Ching, Khongjom Memorial Complex. As was the practice the CM announced initiatives for massive plantations in office complexes across the state, at district HGs, even utilizing part of the MLA’s local area development funds that too, during the remaining days of July.
As part of a announcement-spree, the CM even toyed with the grand mission of plantations along the stretch of AH-1, from Ushoipokpi, short of Waithou to Tangjeng, roughly around 3 km, after shifting the encroachers along this stretch. The moot question is, do we find any trace of greenery along this short span of 3 km even after 7-8 years of the announcement. The position is, easily a big ‘NO’, there is no such massive roadside plantation. ‘Green Imphal’, ‘Think Green’, ‘Go Green’ are only high sounding slogans meant for the occasion to be soon forgotten about.
The overall objective of all these ‘DAYS’. The Earth Day, the Environment Day, the Van Mahotsav Week could be taking sustained measures to prevent growing strain on Planet Earth’s natural system from reaching breaking point. The Environment Day on June 5, 2016 chooses a theme, “Fight against illegal trade in wild life”. This trade in the end erodes precious biodiversity and threatens the survival of elephants, rhinos and tigers as well as many other species. This year’s slogan, ‘Go Wild for Life’, encourages us to spread the word about wild life crime and the damages.
Irrespective of the theme, can we solidly rise as a team, as a group across Imphal, across the districts by associating with the endeavor this time around? The Government has to conceive initiatives to involve the people who are already ready to join hands in the larger interest of the society, the surroundings, and the ecology. A one-day function where the VVIPs talk tall to be forgotten soon for the next year to come, need to be looked at afresh.
(S Kunjabihari Singh (SK Singh) wrote this article for e-pao.net on 9 May, 2016 – The writer can be reached at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com This article was posted on July 18, 2016.) – World News Report via EIN News