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food for thought

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  24 Oct 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Preserving the environment is very much a recurring theme in the ongoing festive season. Many Durga puja marquees in the State were designed this year around eco-friendly themes, while district administrations will be handing out Green Puja awards soon. A fortnight later during Deepawali, air pollution will again be an issue with crores of rupees of firecrackers to be burnt up within a couple of nights. But air pollution, as indeed all other forms of pollution, ought to be a matter of serious concern throughout the year. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently led a bicycle rally to mark the first car-free day observed in Delhi. In the backdrop of Delhi now the world’s most polluted city in the WHO list, its government is seeking to create awareness among the public about the chronic traffic and air pollution there. On the 22nd day of every month, residents of desigted areas in Delhi will be encouraged to use public transport — Metro rail running on electricity or three-wheelers and buses running on CNG, which is cleaner by far than petrol or diesel. However, Delhi will need much more drastic measures to make its air fit for breathing again, as it is adding 1,400 cars to its streets every day. If this is the situation in the country’s capital, the risk posed to the Himalayan foothill region, including the Northeast, can be imagined. Its fragile ecosystem is even more at the mercy of extreme weather triggered by global climate change. This is aggravated by haphazard development and urbanisation, with buildings, roads, dams and growing cities complicating the problem. The roads of Shillong are now choked with cars, while the Transport department and pollution control board keep passing the buck about checking pollution. The tiol Green Tribul had taken the Meghalaya government to task last year for failing to check vehicular emission and pollution by industrial units and coal mines. In Dimapur of galand, the coming dry season is again likely to give residents a bad time with ‘suspended particulate matter’ (SPM) generated by automobiles, crumbling roads, stone crushing, sand extraction and burning of waste. As for Guwahati, gateway to the Northeast, emission by around 5 lakh vehicles clogging up its streets and lax emission control regime, rampant earth cutting, construction boom and other factors are combining to create a serious problem of dust, soot and toxic gases. Unreliable public transport running primarily on diesel completes the dismal picture. How the country will keep its promise to the UN of meeting 40 per cent of its energy needs by 2030 from renewable sources, is something we all need to think deeply about and contribute to the best of our ability.

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