Balanced development is the need of the hour

Rajasthan: On the issue of cleanliness of the Ganga, it is clear from the strict attitude of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that whatever was done in the name of cleansing this holy river was a mere pretense.

The matter is not just about a river, but almost all rivers of this country; especially the rivers passing through North India have become so polluted that they cannot be considered as life-giving in any aspect. In the name of development, the harmful chemical waste discharged from the factories on the banks of these rivers, have completely transformed them into dirty drains.

As a result, not only human life but all living creatures have to suffer. While people are suffering from new life-threatening diseases, there is a threat of extinction of aquatic organisms. This is affecting the entire ecosystem.
In fact, modern manpower development goes with two conflicting ideologies. One mentality is about earning money by exploiting resources and then the second ideology talks about balanced development. The principle of equilibrium and underprivileged development states that production and development should be done to meet human needs, to improve the quality of life of the people living on earth, to produce equipoise and distribution of production and resources and income, and to maintain the balance of the environment, the prospect of a future generation is likely to remain.

At present, development is progressing with the first ideology in which limited people are blinded by the aspect of profit making using all of the earth’s resources. As a result, not only have environmental problems emerged today, but the disposal of solid and liquid waste products – which are emerging from the production process – poses as a serious crisis. There are some examples based on which the discussion should be taken forward.

Case 1: The Luni river of Rajasthan, also known as ‘Maru Ganga’ of Rajasthan, has become a big public garbage dump for industries, society and city corporations. This river, coming out of the Aravali hills in Ajmer district, flows through the 330 km Thar Desert passing through the districts of Pali, Nagaur, Jodhpur, Barmer and Jalore, finally ending in the Rann of Kutch. This river was recharged from ground water from the cities and villages coming in its downstream area, and the surrounding villages were irrigated. The ignorant section of society has filled this river with waste today.

To continue the supply of water to big cities, the river was dried up by the dams built on the river and the industries of the cities settled on the river’s banks, polluting it with liquid and solid waste. Most of the dyeing-printing industries of Pali and Balotra are on the banks of the river and empty millions of liters of chemicals per day into the river. The trash of towns and villages is also dumped in this river, which has also deteriorated groundwater. Similar is the case with all our rivers, which have been turned into garbage dumps by people.

Case 2: This 12-coach train has gained its name from a sudden increase in cancer cases in Punjab that many blame on pesticide use, growing pollution and hardly any response by authorities. This train carries hundreds of cancer patients every day for treatment at cancer hospital in Bikaner district of Rajasthan. The use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides for increasing the production of food grains have been a major cause of soil pollution, water and air pollution which has caused cancer in the lives of many. This is not the only example of messing with people’s lives by ignoring the consequences of development. There are innumerable such examples in developing countries like India.

Case 3: When you think of the Bhopal gas tragedy of 2nd and 3rd December 1984, the heart is filled with sadness. It is estimated that about 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals leaked from the Union Carbide factory. Methyl isocyanate is extremely toxic and if its concentration in air touches 21ppm (parts per million), it can cause death within minutes of inhaling the gas.

In Bhopal, the level was multiple times higher. The owner of the factory went abroad with the help of the government. 34 years after the incident, victims are still awaiting justice. The welfare provided by the government has only benefitted false financial companies, industrialists and corporate houses.

These are only three examples which show that when the development of the country is measured only by economic growth, industrial production, market purchase and import export data, the face of some forces related to production and distribution comes out, which governs people’s lives through the market. The same producers and market forces introduce non-neutrality by ignoring national security, national law, laws related to environmental protection and protection of people’s lives.

Today, the situation is that all the rivers, oceans, earth, sky, air and water have become polluted because of the rapid so called development. The government is helpless in balancing and controlling these powers of development, but it would be more precise that the system also remains under the control of the productive and market forces. Managing the disposal of all kinds of waste that have been created from production – in which e-waste has also been added – seems to be a matter of concern, but there is no accountability.

In the midst of the international conventions, seminars and announcements and the people representing the powers of the market and their beneficial governments, the constant determination of the law to be enforced, seemed to be progressive and beautiful in sight, but the commitment to implement them is hollow.

One such international resolution is the SDG 12 which says, “Ensure sustainable consumption and production Patterns”. Target 12.4 says, “By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment”. Target 12.5 says, “By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse”. Target 12.6 says, “Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle”.

In all the objectives, it is mentioned that the exploitation of resources will be controlled by 2030, disposal of waste in which chemicals, liquids, concrete, plastic etc. will be encouraged and environmental degradation prevented, but it has not been said that it will be legally stopped. There is no mention of how the developed and developing countries will stop this. As a result, it can be said that balanced development around the world, environmental balance and the resolution of this kind is required.

The views expressed in the above article are that of Dilip Bidawat of Charkha Development Communication Network. (ANI)