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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Our rights to greens

Bharati Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times   November 30, 2009
First Published: 00:38 IST(30/11/2009) | Last Updated: 18:29 IST(14/12/2009)

Fewer people in urban India can hang around in greens anymore. We live in concrete shells, with car parks where shrubs once flourished.

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That’s why the few remaining parks in our cities mean so much more now — they are where even a poor man can enjoy nature. For many young children, parks are the green sanctuaries of their city.

Bangalore, once the city of gardens, has forgotten this. During its rapid urbanisation, several water bodies were lost and trees cut. Still, people flocked to the famous Cubbon and Lalbagh parks. But things are set to change. Now, every time you want to get a sliver of the greens, you’ll have to pay Rs. 200.

All over the world, the best city parks are free to everyone. Anyone can go in, and all kinds of people do.

Imagine now, with this policy, an old pensioner being forced to take a morning walk on the roads, or a mother taking her children to see the birds in the park only as a treat. As for the poor, their access to these heritage greens is doomed. Such policies alienate people from nature. There is only one solution — scrap this bad idea.

Safety Shield Still Missing

This week, on the 3rd, it will be a quarter of a century since the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. I won’t get into what’s not happened for the victims and the next generation, or even those responsible for it. But the most serious issue is that we still don’t have any rules to protect us from such disasters.

If there was another tragedy like this one, government would still struggle to figure out how to hold the company head accountable, if at all. We need a protective law in place, so that investors are careful.

Other kinds of protection are needed too. Currently, companies are marketing BT products, and we don’t know how they’ll impact our health.

A stringent liability and transparency regime is the shield we need. Without this, our government can’t protect us adequately.


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