When it comes to trees, planners are in such a hurry to build grand cities, they can’t wait to cut them down. Take Bangalore. There's been a citizens’ Public Interest Litigation against tree-cutting. An outcome was a committee, set up in June, to look into road widening and transportation, since this was the reason why the trees needed to go. According to environmentalists, the committee hasn’t come to any conclusions about anything as yet.
Yet, Bangalore’s tree officer has said he has their clearance to cut 300 trees. He has no written order to this effect. Last week, 50 older trees from a shaded section of the city were cut down. But, as citizens observe, many other structures-religious places of worship and telephone utilities, for example-remain untouched. Consequently, the roads can’t be widened, but they have lost their invaluable tree cover. It’s almost like a fight against the city's green lungs.
The most serious part is the lack of transparency. The deliberations of the committee and its decisions are not made adequately public, although it arises from a PIL. The tree officer only has to verbally declare he has the permission, and isn’t accountable to people.
Exposing Fatal Four
What are the four least recognized environmental hazards? The Blacksmith Institute in New York released its annual list of the world's biggest pollution problems. I found them almost predictable — air pollution, sewage and contaminated surface water.
But it also pointed some of the planet's least recognized pollution sources. In no particular order, artisanal gold mining, lead acid battery recycling, old chemical weapons and chromium are the Most Wanted.
The tragedy is that in India, we have a policy on lead acid batteries, which says only authorized recyclers can handle them. I couldn’t find any government evaluation of the success of the move and I’ve never been to a safe recycling plant in north India. Why aren’t the state pollution control boards get strict? If not, we’ll be stuck with a toxic legacy.
If you feel for planet Earth, write to email@example.com