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Tuesday 21, January 2020
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Environment warriors

That the pollution levels in India are among the worst in the world is well known.

That the pollution levels in India are among the worst in the world is well known. Equally established is the fact that unless ordinary citizens actively supplement government efforts, the problem will persist. Especially inspiring in this regard is how the overpopulated Indore transformed itself from a filthy city to the cleanest one with the residents’ participation. That other cities are having difficulty in replicating its model of waste collection and garbage disposal is a sad reflection of the general apathy and lackadaisical attitude of both the administrators and citizenry. Balbir Singh Seechewal, the ‘Eco Baba’ of Punjab, has shown how an aware and concerned group of people is enough to tackle problems that seem insurmountable by the mighty authorities. Along with his volunteer warriors, he spearheaded an anti-pollution campaign to rejuvenate and beautify the Kali Bein rivulet near Jalandhar. As it spurs numerous similar plans to rid water bodies of sewage, the key to success will lie in a zero-tolerance approach.

In an encouraging trend, as the catastrophic effects of pollution are sinking in, people concerned are pitching in to remove the stink around them and ensure a healthy atmosphere. Behind the Rs 3-crore fine imposed by the National Green Tribunal recently on Panipat Thermal Power Station is the complaint filed by Jatal villagers. They believe the plant’s callous manner of fly ash disposal is at the root of the public health crisis gripping their area, with over 90 per cent of the residents suffering from various ailments, including cancer, asthma, skin and eye diseases. In Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, two officials were suspended on Wednesday after a clip of panchayat trucks dumping garbage into the Vellar river went viral.

But, sadly, for every act of alertness and action taken, there are many more painfully slow battles being fought in courts to counter eco-unfriendly ventures and practices. Transgressions continue as efforts lack the punch required to set and implement strict timelines for the industry to meet the green regulations. A strong enforcement system with no more backpedalling is urgently needed.

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