Ecological perils of discounting the future

With growing environmental distress, policymakers cannot shy away from adopting best eco-management practices
In a report last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) called the Chennai floods of 2015 a “man made disaster”, a pointer to how the encroachment of lakes and river floodplains has driven India’s sixth largest city to this ineluctable situation. The Chennai floods are a symbol of consistent human failings and poor urban design which are common to most urban centres in India if not urban centres across the world. Now, Chennai is in the midst of another crisis — one of water scarcity. Chennai, however, is not alone in terms of suffering from the consequences of human folly. Urbanisation at the cost of reclaiming water bodies is a pan-India if not worldwide phenomenon. There are examples in cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad and even Mexico city. In Bengaluru, 15 lakes have lost their ecological character in less than five years according to a High Court notice to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, the city’s administrative body responsible for civic amenities and some infrastructural assets. The lakes, which are now encroached areas, find use as a bus stand, a stadium and, quite ironically, as an office of the Pollution Control Board. In Telangana, the byzantine network of tanks and lakes built by the Kakatiya dynasty has disappeared over the years. However, the question is not about what follies were committed in the past, but about what we can do in the present and, more importantly, for the future. By 2050 It is estimated that in just 30 years from now, half of India will be living in cities. If we truly envision a great future for this country, how can we possibly risk the lives of half of our people and the next generations who could be facing a life in cities parched by drought, stranded by floods, mortified by earthquakes or torn by wars over fresh water? What has happened in Chennai now or what happened in Kerala last year in the form of floods are not a case of setting alarm bells ringing, but one of explosions. If we do not wake up now, we have to be prepared to face the consequences of nature wreaking great havoc on humanity. We would not need nuclear bombs for our obliteration. Kalvakuntla Kavitha is a former Member of Parliament and the founding president of the Telangana Jagruthi

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/ecological-perils-of-discounting-the-future/article28432502.ece

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