WE NEVER seem to learn any lessons from the past. Mumbai’s woes during the 2005 monsoons were a creation as much of legal/illegal constructions along and on natural water channels as of tons of polythene that clogged its drains.
While action to clean up channels was, apparently, tardy, the Maharashtra Government promptly banned manufacture and sale of plastic bags.
Yet, refusing to draw a lesson, nothing has been done elsewhere to guard against the threat that polythene arguably is to human (as also stray animal) life and property. The MP Government is also among those that are yet to initiate action in this regard. The Chief Minister had stated on the last Environment Day, June 5, that the Government was ‘mulling’ legislation in this respect.
Obviously the mull is still continuing. People, even collectively, have been trying to persuade the Government to expedite action in this matter. I, too, had joined the chorus through columns of this newspaper early last July. Authorities, however, have remained impervious. The monsoon, however, did not tarry long enough to enable Government to make up its mind.
It came this time with awesome ferocity to reveal how needless procrastination on the part of those who govern could cause human misery that is essentially avoidable. Proving to be the prime ‘villain’ (Bhopal Live, 22/8) polythene wreaked havoc on the City and its citizens. Not only did people suffer, even the Government had to put in extra effort involving, perhaps, (to a great extent) needless expenditure from the public exchequer. This is precisely what happens when even a democratically elected Government fails to accord primacy to the larger interests of the people.
The monsoon has certainly not shown its ferocity this year for the last time. It may do so again and in not too distant future. Scientists have predicted that a warming globe will in future see heavier rains with consequent widespread flooding and misery, mostly for the poor. The Government, therefore, needs to hurry up and take steps to, amongst others, banish from the City (and the State) polythene bags before the next monsoon. Let not the sad story of this year be repeated ever again!