Reclaiming The Paradise

5th June has been celebrated as “World Environment Day” (WED) since 1972, it is hosted every year by a different city with a different theme. It has grown to become one of the main events for the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) to spread awareness about the environment. This event is not only about spreading awareness but also to encourage political attention and action, as it is not a hidden secret that politicians have only tried to doge or sideline the Environmental issues rather than taking them head on.

Through WED UNEP tries to personalize environmental issues and make everyone realize their responsibility and empower them to become change agents by highlighting the effect & power of our individual actions.

This year WED was hosted by Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the theme was “Green Economy”. The UNEP defines the Green Economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

World Environment Day (WED) celebrations  got underway on Friday (1st June) at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue with the Government of Brazil and the UNEP launching the Green Passport initiative, which is aimed at changing the behavior of travelers and  tourists within and outside the country.

The technology has made world a smaller place with knowledge and news being shared instantaneously. All the countries in the world try to learn from each other and try to emulate the best practices, but we here in Kashmir are satisfied with taking up what everyone else kicks out. With the world focusing in transforming their economies in to greener ones, we are satisfied with making it blacker with the ever increasing soot from cars & trains.

The bureaucrats and politicians of Kashmir are well versed when it comes to figuring out how to take their percentage from each project, when defending their actions which sometimes are in gross violation of rules & regulations. While doing all this never seem to be at the loss of words, but somehow they never seem to have heard words like planning, implementation, green technology or sustainability. These are the same bureaucrats who with criminal nexus with corrupt politicians tore the Green-Belt to shreds for their own greed. These people should have been tried in the court of law but our judicial system doesn’t dare to touch them, can someone dare to raise even a finger towards the erstwhile bureaucrat’s farm house in Dachigam- National Park?

Kashmir is known as the “Paradise on Earth”, it beauty is unparallel, it takes any visitors breath away at the very first glimpse and thus it has a greet tourism potential, which yet remains to be exploited fully. With every spring a rush of tourists visit valley and with almost no infrastructure to support it, a lot of problems come to fore. There are no public lavatories or urinals at any of the tourist places, be it inside Srinagar or outside! So tourists and common people are forced to take natures call by violating the nature only. Dustbins are an endangered species here in Kashmir, so if a person in need of one finds it he/she feels extremely lucky. These are very basic facilities that should be available to everyone and their absence only helps in the erosion of beauty that we are so proud of. Government should take steps on war footings to make these facilities available at all tourist & market places.

Government should start a campaign similar to “green passport” which would help in informing the tourists about do’s & do not’s. We could use such an initiative to sensitise tourists about the importance of different historical places and how we as a nation would appreciate of them not spitting on the walls of our history. Tourists could be encouraged not to through rubbish from their vehicles on roads or anywhere else except in dustbins, if they can’t find a dustbin on road they should carry it to their hotel and make use of hotel dustbin. Same applies to us, the residents, only if we care for our environment.

Agriculture land is being converted into residential at an alarming rate, despite a ban in effect, but no one seems to be bothered. Where from are we supposed to satisfy our food needs in future? It will transform us into a beggar nation, knocking on every door (neighboring states) asking for some food, is that what we want?

We certainly cannot blame government for everything; a society is what we as people make of it. So if our society is full of filth we are to blame, isn’t it we who throw rubbish around or is it someone from outside who comes and does it. We always rue about non action of government, take the case of polythene, when there was no ban we wanted it to be banned when it was banned we still complain about governments inaction. And all along what did we do besides complaining, we demanded polythene (carry bags) from shopkeepers, as we feel ashamed to carry a paper or cloth bag from home. If we stop demanding and using polythene wouldn’t the government ban be more effective.

There are certain aspects in which government certainly cannot shrug of it responsibility, like the upcoming Hydroelectric power plant in Gurez. Many environmentalists have been claiming that it is an environmental disaster and it will uproot a lot of people. So can we ask why, despite these apprehensions and without answering them properly, the government is still allowing the project to go ahead? Is it our own Mr. 10% at work or is it 20%?

When we as a state should have been pioneers & promoter of green technology, we are just satisfied with second grade technology which just enhances the rate of erosion of our environment. Government allowed diesel engine trains to run in Kashmir when they could have easily made railways to opt for electricity driven trains in J&K or Kashmir at least. Are they waiting for the pollution levels to reach near to that of other metro cities in India and only then will they make such a move, Haven’t our bureaucrats heard precaution is better than cure and in this case there is no cure at all.

With the number of cars and buses increasing rapidly, the amount of green house gases that are being added to our environment is astronomical. Government should seriously think about emulating Delhi in making Public transport to run on CNG, but it seems our government has other priorities than attend to the environmental mess.

Even the Srinagar Airport clearly shows that environment is not our priority. This energy guzzling building is a blot in the name of state of art technology that exists today. When Empire State building in New York can be converted into world’s one of the most energy efficient buildings why can’t we transform our little Airport into one? An airport introduces a place to the tourists or visitors and portrays (communicates) that places priorities to them, well our airport communicates a lot but certainly not a thing about our concern towards our environment!

It is our environment that makes Kashmir Paradise on earth, and to preserve it should be our highest priority. Technology has provided the ways and means of transforming an environment into a greener one, we certainly should, without further delay, promote and become pioneers of green technology in our quest to reclaim our paradise.

Also Appeared in “The Kashmir Monitor

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