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Environment days - congruent themes

WE ARE back again on 5th day of June, the day which is designated as the World Environment Day (WED). San Francisco hosted the main celebrations last year with the theme ?Green cities; Plan for the Planet?, seeking to address the life-threatening environmental issues that have emerged because of ceaseless expansion of cities and towns.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2006 14:44 IST
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WE ARE back again on 5th day of June, the day which is designated as the World Environment Day (WED). San Francisco hosted the main celebrations last year with the theme “Green cities; Plan for the Planet”, seeking to address the life-threatening environmental issues that have emerged because of ceaseless expansion of cities and towns.

Mayors from world over signed a Green Cities Declaration and agreed to implement Urban Environmental Accords within specified timeframes. ‘Actions’ commended, inter alia, were:
1. Adoption of greenhouse gas reduction plan

2-Implementation of user-friendly recycling and composting programs

3-Plan and promote higher density urban areas, with walkable/bikable/disabled-accessible neighbourhoods having open areas
for recreation and ecological reconstruction

4-Ensuring parks/open-spaces in close proximity to every city resident; maintaining a canopy coverage in at least 50 per cent of all available sidewalks

5-Providing access to affordable public transport

6-Establishing an Air Quality Index (AQI) and set goals for reducing air pollution

7-Providing access to adequate and safe drinking water; protecting ‘ecological integrity’ of primary sources of drinking water

Bhopal has made hardly any headway during the past year on any of the issues listed in the Accords. While composting programmes have been encouraged in a few villages in the catchments of the Upper Lake and steps towards re-densification and side-walk planting in some areas have been initiated, no other issue has, apparently, been addressed.

Existing parks have remained neglected, the City’s air quality is getting worse, ecologically the Upper Lake has, perhaps, worsened and a clean and orderly public transport system is nowhere near the horizon. One trusts, the coming year will see some worthwhile initiatives on the issues included in the Accords.

‘Deserts and desertification’ is the theme of the WED this year with a catchy slogan of ‘Don’t Desert Drylands’. Appropriately, City of Algiers in arid Algeria is hosting the main celebrations. The theme has empathy with
the designation of 2006 by the UN Secretary General as the International Year of Deserts and Desertification.

Only last month the UN warned that “global warming posed mounting threats to drylands, which cover more than 40 per cent of the planet’s land area…For more than one billion people affected by drought and desertification, adaptation to climate change will be a matter of survival.”

Researchers have recently revealed that the tropics are expanding and moving towards the poles, carrying along with them the rain-bearing storms, presumably, under the influence of global warming. Drought-prone tropics and expansion of their deserts will prove catastrophic for the inhabitants like us of this climatic region. Halting global warming is, therefore, the imperative for every one of us – public/private bodies as also individuals.

Appreciating the congruence of WED themes of the last and current years, the government and the civic body, regardless of the exemptions granted to us under the Kyoto Protocol, need to initiate action to curb the on-going heavy discharge of greenhouse gases.

Transport being the ‘worst offender’, they need to put a check on automobile emissions, simultaneously cracking-down on sale/distribution/use of adulterated fuel. They also need to introduce an environmentally ‘clean’ and decent public transport system, like the one recently introduced in Indore, to reduce dependency on personal vehicles. They have to make greater efforts to harness solar and wind power, too.

Individuals and families should chip in as well. In every household activity – cooking, refrigeration, machine-washing of clothes, lighting up of the house, use of motorised transport, etc – there is scope for avoiding waste, reduction in consumption and efficient use of energy. Not only will this be economically beneficial, it will also help in slowing down global warming. The government and NGOs need to educate the lay-public. Running campaigns through the media will be of great help.

Let’s all act –and not go through only the motions!

First Published: Jun 05, 2006 14:44 IST