Environment Day blues

Random incidents that come to mind on June 5, World Environment Day

Our neighbours in Bangalore don’t like our trees. Rather, they don’t like the leaves from our trees. Also, when I tell them that about the trees’ oxygen, they say that they don’t like the oxygen either. They’ve chopped down every green or brown stem that dared set root in their compounds, and concreted every square foot of land. In fact, one of the houses has left no clearance on any side. They obviously don’t know that their lungs are dependent on our trees to keep up their oxygen levels. And they await Akrama-Sakrama.

Roadside trees in Mumbai are being pruned before the monsoons. This, so that the falling branches during the rains and windy hailstorms do not fall on people or vehicles. The cutters say that they try not to disturb birds nests, but if they’re in the way of their assigned task, they will have to go. After all, human lives and property are more valuable than the birds.

The lady who arrives at the corner kirana store in her black Scorpio buys a loaf of bread. She insists on a thin plastic carry bag (less than 40 microns), that the shop-keeper gives away for free. Without these bags, people will not come to his shop, but buy from the other shops that are also giving away thin plastic bags freely. The security guard from next door stops to buy a dozen bananas from the road-side cart. The same scene is replayed. This despite a ban on the use of these bags.

The family that has just moved in next door has bought everything new. Television, refrigerator, washing machine, dish washer, microwave. A room full of EPS (thermocol) is what they’ve left on the road. The extruded paper packaging was taken by the rag-picker. With no reliable EPS recycling system, why the EPS packaging is allowed in the first place, and not returned to the source in the second place, are unanswered questions.

The RWA recently held its AGM, that concluded with a paid residents’ lunch. Disposable plastic plates to eat, disposable cups for jamun dessert, disposable plastic spoons and forks, disposable glasses, first for juice/ tea and then for water, and the food scraps and wasted food – filled up ten large garbage bags. They will force their way to Mandur.

“Sort your waste” is the rule, but the man from the house across the road insists on putting everything (wet waste, dry waste, diapers, etc.) into one plastic bag, tying it at the top, and leaving, it not in front of his house, but in front his neighbours’ house. Sorting of waste is actually a waste, according to him, as the garbage collector mixes everything anyway.

The 80-year old lady down the road needs a routine blood test to check if her levels are in control. The diagnostic lab is just 200 metres away, so she wants to walk it, with her granddaughter. The only problem is that she has to walk in the middle of the road, because the footpaths are non-existent. So she is taken by car.

The multistoried building abutting the lake is discharging the dysfunctional STP outflow into it. This is not being done secretly. The pollution control board knows about this, because of which the building’s occupation certificate has been denied. No occupation certificate, yet the 105-apartment building is fully occupied, and owners are paying property tax to the government.

Compromises, violations, collusion everywhere. Does the environment really stand a chance?

One thought on “Environment Day blues

  1. Regunath Balasubramanian June 5, 2014 / 11:50 am

    Cant agree with you more on these incidents Arathi. The prospects does sound pretty bleak – the sad part is that people don’t realize what they are doing/not doing. Actions come only after this realization sets in.


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