By Amit Ranat:
Some of the major issues India is facing in 2016 are the dangerous levels of water scarcity and the rapidly rising temperature with heat waves already claiming lives across the country. In some villages, there’s not even a single drop of water available and as reports have shown some are even thriving on aid provided by neighbouring states. A majority of this environmental chaos can be attributed to the lack of rainfalls last year.
This is not surprising because our governments are on a selfish and blinded spree of development. About 30% of forests trees have been cut in the name of development under various Yojnas and for constructing highways. Now, one can even refer to the Uttarakhand debacle.
A local daily of Surat reported that a total of 1,264 trees had been uprooted for the BRTs project in the town by the local municipality in the last one year alone. Not only did this plan fail in Delhi but might also flop in Surat, thereby not generating profits but causing a huge environmental loss.
In an RTI I submitted last year, I enquired about this very concern, asking authorities how many trees they had cut and how many they had planted. From the data they offered me, of course, the number of newly planted trees were less as compared to the number of trees they had cut. I even raised the following point with the Municipality Commissioner: It is good to plant new trees but destroying old trees which are giving more benefits to the environment isn’t a good idea. Newly planted trees would take years to branch out and show benefits to the environment.
After countless tries I was unable to save 1000s of trees that were destroyed by the BRTS project despite writing many letters, sending out RTI appeals etc. No one seems to care about nature and environment any longer. This also shows a lack of empathy and awareness on the part of engineers and city planners who are involved with such projects. This same thing is happening in many Indian cities where environment awareness is nil.
Maybe all this combined resulted in the lack of rains in 2015 and the current water scarcity. If such attitudes will persist, that day is not far where we have to search for water and have to pay high prices for the most basic resources that life intends to offer free of cost to us.