By Binoy Viswam
The greed of the capital along with its market-controlled path of development is making the lives of people more and more miserable. The people are being denied even their basic rights of safe air, water, and landmass. The capitalistic rulers everywhere are doing only lip service to the safety of the people. Their policies one after another are breaking all the fundamental structures of a decent life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. The more they preach, the less they act as it can be seen from the Modi government policies evidently moving in this direction.
The first chapter of Communist Manifesto has discussed about this nature of capitalist greed and the ethos of its governance. Marx and Engels in that context even characterised the bourgeoise government as the “executive committee for managing the general affairs of the capitalists.” That statement remains true in the era of . RSS controlled BJP Government which has made a lot of sermons on environment protection.
In their Manifesto for 2014 Elections, they stated that, “The present generation has to make this world a better place to live. A better place not only for us, but for our future generations as well. We have to nurture the environment, institutions, people, resources and amenities… We will take Climate Change mitigation initiatives with all seriousness and work with the global community and institutions in this regard. We will: (do) Ecological Audit of projects. Pollution indexing of cities and townships will be done on scientific basis. Pollution control mechanisms will be set up on priority basis.”
Once in power they never looked back to it. Let the country have a look at the amendments made by the Modi Government in the forest and environment related legislations. They were all meant for the destruction of forests and environment, not for their protection. The Greater Nicobar development project was a great assault on the richness of biodiversity abundance of the islands with disastrous impact on the air, water and environment conditions of India.
The much-boasted Central Vista project of BJP government caused unimaginable damage to the air safety of the Capital city. The 20,000-crore project brutally ate down tens of thousands of trees in the Lutyens’s Delhi. For achieving the Central Vista Project, the government just disregarded the existing laws in the country and found shelter in outdated Government Building Act of 1899! Pollution from the indiscriminate demolitions, recently 80,000 tonnes in NOIDA only and carbon dioxide emissions from evergrowing number of vehicles, 3.38 million private cars in 2021, these are the data taken from government sources.
Instead, their air pollution discussions always revolve around stubble burning and farmers only! Tortured breath undertaken by millions of citizens in Indian cities is the aftermath of this profit motivated development. Air pollution looming over the big cities cause seven million premature deaths annually. Cancer, lung disease and strokes are ever on increase, affecting the life expectancy by nine years at present stage. While the IQ Air – the World Air Quality Report 2020 ranked Delhi as the 4th most polluted city in the world, the National Clean Air Programme was launched in 2019. It was supposed to cover the 131 most polluted cities in the country. But due to the utter negligence of the government, the programme ended as a non-starter.
When the G-20 was hosted by India with great fanfare, the Narendra Modi government was preaching that, India, the ‘Vishwaguru’, was standing ahead on every developmental yardstick. But the reality that stares on us reveals the pathetic living conditions of our people. The adapted safety standards of WHO set 5mcg/mc as the safe concentration of PM (Particulate Matter) 2.5 per cubic metre of air, India could reach nowhere near that goal. The existing alarming situation of air pollution in the country warrants urgent proactive action plan to protect the life expectancy of the people of India
The government should understand that the people and their lives are of paramount importance, not the profits of their cronies. If the government is serious in this matter, the government should find time to discuss the crisis caused by air pollution in the forthcoming winter session of the parliament. There are various worthy practices like “wind path forests” carried out by different countries. This is the time to act, to give hope to people. The Prime Minister should convene an all party meeting urgently to set the ground for India’s fight for safe air and environment. (IPA Service)