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Home / Opinion / Indians need legacies that enrich their lives

Indians need legacies that enrich their lives

Indians will always be proud of a legacy that enrichens life. That’s why we love stepwells like the 1498 Adalaj stepwell in Gujarat — it is very beautiful and conserves water. We also love the modern Metro — it increases our mobility and empowers us, writes Bharati Chaturvedi.

opinion Updated: Jan 13, 2020 08:16 IST
Bharati Chaturvedi
Bharati Chaturvedi
New Delhi
Adalaj Ni Vav, a 15th century stepwell, in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar.
Adalaj Ni Vav, a 15th century stepwell, in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar. (PTI File Photo )
         

Last week, I visited Bhopal. It made me think about legacies that rulers leave behind.

Visitors to the Bhopal usually see the beautiful blue Upper Lake, or Badi Jheel, a product of 11th century vision and engineering, attributable to Raja Bhoj. Today, this water body is key to the city’s ecology and part of a protected Ramsar Site, plus a key source of drinking water.

How many cities in India lean on 10 century-old infrastructure? How many have kept them intact anyway?

Meanwhile, just 36 years ago, the city was intergenerationally scarred by the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, when 40 tonnes of Methyl Iso Cyanate gas leaked and killed thousands. It is known as the world’s worst industrial disaster. The water air and human bodies were so poisoned that the next generation was born with multiple illnesses. The site was never cleaned up. The politicians then and since haven’t sent off anyone to jail. This is one of the more painful legacies of modern India.

The existence of both truths in one city informs us about legacy making. Indians will always be proud of a legacy that enrichens life. That’s why we love stepwells like the 1498 Adalaj stepwell in Gujarat — it is very beautiful and conserves water. We also love the modern Metro — it increases our mobility and empowers us.

We’re unhappy about legacies like contamination from Jaduguda’s Uranium mining. Walking around Bhopal underscores the need for legacies that protect the quality of our lives and the environment in one go.

(The writer is the Founder and Director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)