Skip to main content

Gujarat polls: Vadodara environmentalists wonder why none talks of pollution issues that affect health, nature

By Our Representative
In a belated attempt, senior environmentalist Rohit Prajapati, accompanied by several prominent citizens, has sought to make his voice heard asking whether political party candidates, competing to win Gujarat assembly elections in the second and final round (December 14), have at all cared to raise environmental issues facing our cities.
Belonging to Vadodara, the signatories of the statement he has floated -- including Prof Shishir R Raval, Landscape Architect and Ecological Planner; Neha Sarwate, Environmental and Urban Planner; Ranjitsinh Devkar, Zoologist; Dr. Deepa Gavali, Wetland Ecologist; Dr. Jitendra Gavali, Botanist and others -- say that "political parties are slamming each other over issues of religion, caste, reservations and engaging in petty one-upmanship".
The statement, the only one so far in Gujarat on the need to focus on environmental issues, comes amidst Ahmedabad-based environmentalist Mahesh Pandya of the Paryavaran Mitra admitting to Counterview that in the current situation, anything related to environment is "will not be taken seriously, nor would it click", adding, "I plan to take up environmental issues after the polls."
Referring to their city, Vadodara, which goes to polls on Wednesday, the Vadodara group has expressed concern over "environmental neglect" and its negative impacts which "affect not only people but also other species", adding, "The so-called floods, increase in water pollution, stink and smog in the air, traffic congestion, loss of natural vegetation cover" are some of the "examples of such issues and impacts."
Coupled with this, they say, "Slums have been demolished rendering many people unemployed and homeless under the label of encroachment", even as new buildings spring up on the banks of the river and into the lakes under the pretext of development", bypassing "environmental and building laws."
Especially referring to Vadodara, known as the cultural capital of Gujarat, the statement says, "Construction permits have been awarded to buildings that encroach on rivers, ravines and lakes, thereby increasing the potential for floods and water-logging. Existing buildings, some with great heritage value (Nazarbaug Palace and Shantadevi Hospital), have been demolished."
Calling it "shameful" that the city is aspiring to become 'smart', spending "crores of public money for it is planned without inputs from qualified planners, genuine public participation, and proper contour surveys and plans", the statement underlines, "The so-called floods are not natural. They take place due to bad planning and human errors."
Taking strong exception to what they call "wall-to-wall carpeting of roads" to accommodate more traffic, the signatories say, while doing so, it is not realised that this reduces "groundwater recharge", even as increasing "storm water runoff into the nearby low-lying areas."
"More paving and buildings actually damage the environment. The rain / storm water accumulation cause water logging. Withdrawing more and more ground water and releasing polluted water into the nearest river, nala, or pond are rapidly causing severe water quantity and quality issues", they point out.
The statement continues, "Deteriorating ground water quality with high fluoride and other contamination not only cause health problems but also will lead to water drought in Vadodara in about five years... Similarly, expansion of the city without systematic solid waste reduction and management is an open invitation to public health disaster that is experienced by the citizens of Delhi and Beijing."
Noting that "smoke, dust, smog, and stink from the industrial, vehicular traffic, and construction activities are causing very serious health hazards that, in turn, affect productivity and economy", the statement refers to how the the riparian zones of the city's Vishwamitri river "are choking due to dumping of solid waste of all kinds".

Comments

TRENDING

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Iswarchandra Vidyasagar was a 'frustrated' reformer who turned into a conservative

By Bhaskar Sur "If someone says the Manusamhita was written by all wise Manu and the principal scripture of the land and if he asks me to throw it away, I'll say it is nothing short of atrocious audacity." -- Iswarchandra Vidyasagar

Odisha bauxite mining project to 'devastate' life of 2,500 Adivasi, Dalit farmers: NAPM

Counterview Desk  While the public hearing on mining in Mali hills has been cancelled due to protests by Adivasi and Dalit farmers of the Mali Parbat Surakhya Samiti, Odisha, who have been protesting against the proposed bauxite mining project, India’s top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said it is “deeply concerned” at the decision of the Government of Odisha to push the project in a Schedule-V Adivasi-belt Koraput district against the interests of the people and environment.

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

2002 riots: Gujarat assembly 'misinformed' about dereliction of duty, says ex-DGP

By Rajiv Shah  Former Gujarat topcop RB Sreekumar, an IPS officer of the 1971 batch, has alleged that the Gujarat government gave “totally false information” on the floor of the State Assembly regarding the appeal he made to the Gujarat governor for the “initiation of departmental action against those responsible for culpable negligence in maintenance of public order and investigation of genocidal crimes” during the 2002 riots.

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

'Devastating impact': Rural workers suffer as Govt of India NREGA budget down by 34%

Counterview Desk  A civil rights group, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj stating that 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 has added to woes on India’s rural population, already suffering from “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.