World Earth Day Update : Green activists say Covid-19 is Earth’s angry revenge

Insight Online News

Agra, April 22 : The Taj city’s green activists think Covid-19 is mother Earth’s angry revenge against wanton exploitation of nature and mad civilisational craze for development without a human face.

At an interactive session early Thursday to mark Earth Day at the Yamuna bank, environmentalists blamed developed countries for the pandemic that has threatened life in an unprecedented way.

They warned of serious consequences of untamed, profit-motivated industrialisation and haphazard urbanisation chiefly responsible for the deteriorating quality of life and threats to mass health.

After the all-out war against pollution launched a little over three decades ago at the initiative of the Supreme Court, Agra should have been a model of planned urban expansion and a cleaner environment, but the city continues to struggle to contain both air and water pollution that has alarmed nature lovers.

“More than a thousand crores have been spent but the results are a huge zero,” lamented activist Shravan Kumar Singh.

Environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya said the lifeline of the city, the Yamuna river is highly polluted and virtually dead, while the ambient air carries a huge load of desert sand and dry river silt, further compounded by emissions from the rising number of vehicles on the roads.

Earth Day is a reminder to the governments and the public to wake up and taken appropriate measures to reduce pollutants and slow down on the exploitation of natural resources, said Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.

Several citizens’ groups joined the Earth Day celebrations, though at a low key due to the pandemic, to raise awareness about the challenges that Earth and its fragile environment face.

Ranjan Sharma of “Paryavaran Mitra” said that “the decreasing green cover in the eco-sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone, was a matter of deep concern”.

Speakers at a virtual meeting organised by the River Connect Campaign said there was greater need for restoring balance among the five components of nature (the panch tattvas: water, sky, air, fire, and earth).

Rahul Raj said that “time has come to reduce wants, recycle products and discourage the western use and throw culture”.

Shahtosh Gautam said water had to be saved through judicious use.

While Deepak Rajput wanted water-harvesting made compulsory in all urban areas, Chaturbhuj Tiwari said that “municipalities were encouraging concretisation of pavements and wide use of interlocking cement tiles which prevented seepage and percolation of rainwater”.

This practice needed to be changed.

Activists said all political parties should specifically commit themselves to measures that would restore a happy balance in nature and prevent further degradation of the environment.

Sri Nath ji Jal Sewa that runs a network of water huts in the city, asked people to conserve the fast depleting water resource.

“Each drop needed to be saved for posterity,” its director Bankey Lal Maheshwari said.

Environmentalists raised concern about the increasing number of vehicles in the urban limits adding to the overall pollution load.

“The suspended particulate matter (SPM) level continues to be much higher than the permissible limit of 100 micrograms per cubic metre. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide levels were also rising according to data released by the state pollution control board for the Taj Trapezium Zone,” according to activist Rajiv Saxena.

The depleting green cover around Agra continues to pose a serious threat to the health of the Taj Mahal as does the polluted Yamuna river.

“Despite worldwide alarm and concern by international agencies, nothing concrete has been done to insulate the world heritage monument, the 17th-century monument of love, from dust and smog,” Jyoti and Vishal Jha, if the Nritya Jyoti Kathak Kendra said.

IANS

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