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Open House: What should be done to wake up political leaders to address environmental issues? : The Tribune India - Energy And Water Development Corp

Open House: What should be done to wake up political leaders to address environmental issues? : The Tribune India

Green issues put on back burner

In Punjab, groundwater table has gone down to alarming levels, which needs foremost attention. Measures such as constructing recharge borewells to contain rain/ flood water, diversification to non water guzzling crops, sewerage treatment plants, rain harvesting and minor irrigation projects must be taken in this regard. It is that a pity that long-term issues such as water conservation, air pollution and population control have taken a back seat in the political hubris. While the nearby State, Haryana has made plans to invest in rainwater recharging of village ponds and channels under panchayti raj, why the same is not happening in Punjab? The negligence of political parties to provide a road map to address the precarious condition of depleting water table is a grievous amiss during the election debates. All the more, TV channels too are indulging in frivolous episodes and engaged in highlighting freebies doled out by the leaders at soaring dimensions, whereas the long term issues of public concern get least mention. The political ethics have degraded so low that except mudslinging, none of the party is taking up this vital aspect, while the electorate is also baffled. To wake up the candidates, it would be a big service if media and intellectuals proactively sensitise the electorates to raise voice vehemently against such critical problems along with issues of everyday concern.

Nirmaljit Singh Chatrath

Declining water table a serious problem

Sidelining crop diversification, paddy-wheat cycle, poor implementation of rain harvest schemes, cement lining of canals, deep tube wells, submersible motors at home, unregulated pumping of water from tubewells are the major reasons responsible for depleting water table. Free water and electricity for agriculture sector, sowing paddy, neglecting crop diversification, due to free water the consumption of water has increased the problem manifold. Similarly, the cement lining of canals has halted recharging of groundwater. The declining water table is a very serious issue and the leaders of political parties should also raise it so that the new government takes steps to frame policies for increasing water table. Apart from this in the past in Malwa area the drinking water was not fit for drinking, the government took initiative to install RO’s. Earlier, there was a major problem of water logging in Malwa area which was amicably resolved by taking steps by constructing drains. Similarly if we will not be serious on declining water table then the areas of Doaba can witness acute shortage of water in coming years and the water table level will fall to unexpected levels which can convert the fertile agriculture areas to deserts.


Parties not familiar with such issues

As we know that already there is depletion in the water table and the water is becoming scarce in certain areas, the time of elections could be a great way to help conserve water. The parties could take up the initiative to maintain and increase the level of the water table but not let it deplete. This will encourage the people to vote for them for taking up good initiatives. There will be profits both ways, the parties could get elected and also the water table could go back to normal and there is no scarcity of water. But, the main point is that some parties are not familiar with these kinds of issues and are not taking up these kinds of initiatives. They are lost in their slumber and to wake them up from their slumber, we should make them aware about these issues first so that they can help take up these initiatives. In the end I would like to say that the parties must be made aware which would help us solve the rising water problem.

Sanidhya Bhaskar

Not on priority list of traditional parties

Since Independence, Punjab is governed by two mainstream parties which are Congress and SAD and unfortunately conservation and protection of environment and ecology were never their priorities. Punjab which derives its glorious name from five rivers is now struggling with falling water table. In the past two decades, the groundwater in Punjab has been falling at the rate of 25-30 cm a year. At this rate, the state will turn into a desert in the next 25 years only. As regards the status of forest and trees coverage, it is dismal low as 6.87% only against national average of 24.56%. Of late, Sh. Balbir Singh Seechewal, an environmentalist, has taken up the matter with the public to raise the environmental issues with all political parties in view of ensuing state elections. But unfortunately the subject appears to have taken back seat in view of prevailing massive corruption triggered by mafia rule in almost every revenue-generating fields of the state. Given the circumstances, it is futile to expect any change from the traditional political parties which are hitherto responsible for financial mess leading to 3 lakh crore debt on the exchequer and no financial support for environmental health of state will be viable. In the present election foray, the AAP is only political party which can be trusted for viable alternative to save and protect the environment due to their track record and promise of abolishing mafia rule and corruption in every field to substantially increase the revenue sources which in turn can be suitably allocated towards all the needs of environment and ecology of the state.


Residents of the Green Avenue show bottles full of dirty water from their taps in Jalandhar. File

Media must play up green issues

Issues such as water conservation and environmental protection have not been on the priority list of the politicians for the reasons best known to them. Probably they are least bothered about the ramifications brought forth by the depleting green cover and shortage of drinking water in the state for not only the present generations but for the future ones too. Such sleepy, lazy, insensitive and irresponsible leaders should not be elected this time. Instead, the caring and concerned and well-educated people should be given a chance to serve. The media plays a decisive role in shaping the attitude of such leaders and motivate them to add these vital issues so that concrete steps can be adopted before it is too late. I personally believe that plant saplings can be gifted to vote-seekers when they knock at our doors to seek our precious vote and support. In addition, home-made cards highlighting water conservation and related issues can also be presented to them to open their eyes. In addition, songs can be composed and sent to the official channels of our worthy leaders to stir their sleeping souls. Moreover, they can also be taken on task to clean the water resources available in their respective constituencies to teach them a lasting lesson. There is nothing wrong if they can be encouraged to put their sincere endeavours to look after the nearby community parks and give them a new look. Even the environmentalists can work in unison and organise tree-plantation drives in all those segments which are in the proximity of our visionary leaders to show them the fillip a green cover can give to the milieu. The real thing is we all need to work on our mindset and develop an eco-friendly attitude.


Due to shortage of water, residents of Birring village are forced to fetch water from the local gurdwara. File

Water is the elixir of life

It’s no doubt that environmental degradation is the worldwide issue and so is the issue of water scarcity and conservation. In India both these subjects are of extreme importance. The forests are being destroyed and so are the Amazon forests in Brazil. Trees are being uprooted to make way for the roads and building housing colonies. The builders of these colonies pay election funds to the political parties. Increasing population and increasing number of vehicles are the cause of polluting environment and water scarcity. The political parties and their leaders are not at all interested in raising these issues and also making public aware of the future ill-effects of the environmental degradation and lowering water table. They are interested only in vote catching and making money. Many social activists like Sh. Seechewal and another celebrity of Rajasthan, who was given Magsaysay Award about water conservation, make people aware of these issues. Now, it is the responsibility of political parties, their leaders and people in general to save the environment and water conservation. Water is the elixir of life and needs to be saved.

Dr JS Wadhwa

Green journalism should be encouraged

It is worrisome that that the environmental concerns are not an integral part of India’s election discourse. Except for continuously paying lip service, neither political parties nor politicians seriously talk about the poor air quality, severe pollution of water bodies, depleting water level and deforestation that take heavy toll on public health and welfare. Leaders are traditionally focused on bagging, buying or manipulating votes for wresting political power for self-aggrandisement. It is unfortunate that during elections, environmental issues find no mention in the media and a large majority of people are interested only in the political circus and the satisfaction of their daily needs. It is high time that environmental issues should occupy the centre stage of our political narrative and parties and leaders should focus on their addressal. For that, efforts should be made to spread environmental awareness among the masses to press for its inclusion in the election manifestoes of major political parties. Environmental journalism should be encouraged to highlight environmental deterioration, ecological decline and water. The country’s air is the world’s dirtiest, and that the country is the world’s third-most emitter of carbon dioxide after China and the US. Environmental challenges need an active, coordinated approach which includes harnessing of resources, ensuring sustainability and checking global warming. Though environment is gradually making inroads into the Indian political process, it will take some more time before it gains momentum in the future.

Simran & Tajpreet S Kang

We are heading towards a disaster

The challenge of environmental degradation can be attributed to a substantially growing populace, constantly expanding economic development and the unregulated application of new technology. Unfortunately, successive governments and political parties have given scant attention to address the problem. Even the mainstream national media has callously ignored this all-important issue in the wake of political frenzy in the run up to the Assembly elections. The tragedy is that the present class of politicians is semi-literate, short-sighted and selfish and is mindlessly engaged in promoting their own monetary interests or those of their relatives and friends. Despite the creation of a number of agencies, like the National Green Tribunal and the Commission for Air Quality Management, nothing much has been achieved on the ground level. It is time green issues become a part of election manifestos and campaigns. Of late, young internet-savvy voters and the educated middle-class voters in metropolitan cities, including New Delhi-NCR region, are becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues and are questioning political parties about their respective stand. It is imperative to form a Green Party, as in the West, to foster environmental protection. Civil society, NGOs and religious and social organisations should excite the imagination of the public at the grass root level to base their voting decision on the assured deliverance of ecological promises. Environmentalists like Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal should continue acting as pressure groups for the government to evolve a holistic approach to contain ecological imbalance. Otherwise, we are fast heading towards an environmental disaster for which our coming generations will curse us forever.

DS Kang


It’s election time and political parties are leaving no stone unturned in garnering maximum support they can. They rope in VIPs to campaign for them, but it is the common man that bears the brunt as every now and then roads are blocked for smooth passage of these VIPs. What should be done to end this practice or find a way out to end common man’s woes, especially during VIP movement?

Suggestions in not more than 200 words can be sent to jalandhardesk@tribunemail.comby Thursday (February 3)

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