What do you do immediately after you come into this world as a newborn? What do you do immediately after you wake up each morning? You take a breath – a good, deep, breath, taking in all the air your lungs can hold, filling you with new life and energy. What would happen if this very element (that grants you life), were to be degraded, polluted, and becomes that which slowly kills you?
Air pollution is certainly a very pressing concern – and it really doesn’t help that humans are taking away possibly the only defence we have against it, bit by bit. Trees are cut down for various reasons – be it as fuel, construction resources, for other industries, etc. Nowadays, they’re also cut down to make space for construction sites – thanks to the population explosion that has caused cities to expand beyond the free space that is readily available.
Now, in most cases, tree plantation drives are conducted elsewhere, to compensate for this tragic loss of natural wealth – which works fine when only an acre or two has to be made up for. But when close to 70 acres of trees are cleared for something as trivial as a metro car-shed, it really begs the question as to how this hole in the environment will be plugged. And let us not forget that this will not only create problems for the ecosystem, but also for the quality of air in the region. After all, trees (or for that matter, the plant kingdom as a whole) have quite the miraculous mechanism by which they take in noxious carbon dioxide and give out life-sustaining oxygen.
The Aarey Milk Colony is spread over 4,000 acres, out of which 1,300 hectares are forest land. According to official specifications, 70 acres of forest area faces the axe to make room for a metro car-shed. The simple question here is this – is a metro car-shed worth decreasing humanity’s chances of having a healthier future?
Every tree, on an average, produces nearly 120 kilograms (260 pounds) of oxygen per year. At the Aarey Colony, the current fiasco is set to claim around 70 acres (30 hectares) of forested land. Assuming that there are close to 200 trees per acre facing the axe (though this number is may be larger in reality), this amounts to a loss of close to 16.8 lakh kilograms of oxygen per year, and entails a risk to the respiratory health of around more than a lakh people.
While considering this calculation, we are taking into account only the area proposed for the car-shed. However, if we were to consider the fact that Aarey has lost 1,000 acres of land for various projects (in 50 years), then the loss stands at a staggering 6 crore kilograms of oxygen, that may consequently affect around 90 lakh people (if it hasn’t already). All this, and we have not even talked about the loss in biodiversity yet.
Common sense should have indicated to everyone’s conscience that this is wrong (to put it mildly). Those responsible should understand the severity of the ‘environmental crime’ they are about to commit and desist immediately – or else face the full extent of nature’s wrath, that can already be seen, judging by the drastic climate change. We must realise that all this is not so that only we can enjoy the benefits of a cleaner atmosphere – this is a movement to ensure a healthy future for those who will come after us and will carry the journey of the human race forward.
Do you remember the last time you closed your eyes, took a breath of fresh air and thanked the Almighty for blessing us with nature’s bounty? Try that now – and as soon as you open your eyes, the only thing you’ll feel is far from gratitude for the Creator. You will feel only shock and pity for the concrete and metal that has replaced the shady tree canopy, and for the incessant bustle of the city that has replaced the quite whistling of the breeze through the trees. Breathe better air, build a better tomorrow.