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OPEN HOUSE The Tribune India

OPEN HOUSE The Tribune India

OPEN HOUSE: What should be done to wake up leaders from their slumber to address environmental issues? : The Tribune India

Need for an integrated approach?

It is strange that the government who is operating economy itself doesn’t consider the significant issues pertaining to environment degradation and depleting water table that can cause much damage to our economy in coming years. Instead of creating awareness among the masses about how to protect our environment, authorities give speeches on absurd topics. Everyone knows that the water table is rapidly declining and should be the main concern of the government. Unfortunately, political parties are busy with campaigns and rallies to buy votes. They give meagre amounts to the public and make tall claims to the public. Important issues are being ignored during the elections. It is a travesty that they only focus on short-term victory at the expense of long-term damage. Administration has ignored issues related to global warming, ozone layer depletion and air pollution. It’s high time for authorities to wake up from their slumber to address these important issues so that our environment can be preserved in best possible way. The general public should also choose candidates who are knowledgeable about these issues and can solve environmental problems. It is obvious that one person cannot save the whole environment. This requires a comprehensive approach by both government and the public.

Sukhmeet Kaur

Malwa is experiencing rising water pollution

Environment concerns in Punjab like rising air and water pollution are not being addressed in the Assembly elections. Judging from the candidates’ poll campaign it seems the time when elections in the state will be fought on environmental issues is far away. However, the pressure groups of young voters as well as the middle class should make it mandatory that candidates for state assembly elections address these important issues. Media, public and political discourses all have the ability to wake up the candidates and bring up the issues of environment conservation and water conservation during the elections. Citizens should vote for candidates who are concerned about water conservation and the environment. The people should not campaign on water conservation. If a candidate refuses to address the issue of water conservation and environment, then NOTA should be used. The Malwa belt in Punjab has a very low water table. The water is brackish, contaminated with pesticides. Candidates running from that region should be asked what plans they have to improve or augment the Malwa region’s clean water resources. Navjot Singh Sidhu has a unique Punjab Model that he will implement if his party is elected. He should be asked whether his Punjab Model also addresses water conservation and the environment. These issues are important and must be addressed first, not second.

Tarsem S Bumrah

All people will be affected by environmental degradation and rising pollution in due time. It is urgent that voters are more aware of these issues.

Candidates who are concerned about green issues should be supported

Everyone, except politicians, should be concerned about the depletion of the water table and environmental pollution. It is an important issue that candidates for elections should address. First, residents should form a core group of representatives on the issue. They can then address their concerns to politicians and raise awareness to help them stop these problems. Second, residents should raise these issues loudly and seek solutions when any politician visits their constituencies door-to-door. Voters should encourage and lure politicians who raise these important issues in elections and seek to take remedies upon taking power.


Reduce water pollution and conserve every drop

In today’s era, the environment and water conservation has been a big fuss in the locality. Though the candidates ensure the citizen’s safety, the environmental cause seems to be missing from their issues. How can the world survive without clean water and fresh air?! Candidates must spread awareness through their campaigns about environment and water conservation to reach citizens. They should propose ideas such as rainwater harvesting and forest belts, alternative energy resources, etc. It is rightly said, “A small change in human can do great wonders.”

Nimish Sehgal

Not enough attention given to environmental issues

The quality of the air we all are breathing, the rising AQI, is no one’s baby. Rampant felling of trees and wood burning in crematoriums in spite of the availability of gas powered machines, the law of jungle that prevails on city roads do not figure on any party’s programme. Shopkeepers have taken over the ownership of any footpaths. Pedestrians can be a busy lot. If any development projects like the one in Amritsar South are allowed to linger, they are intentionally allowed to do so without any reason in order to convert them to an issue with potential votes. In colonies like Kote Baba Deep Singh, all streets were dug up, at a snail’s pace in February last year for replacing water supply and sewerage lines but never filled up or re-paved till date. The sight of so many dangling power and cable lines is a nuisance to discerning observers. Most importantly, the number of tube wells being sunk and replaced is increasing without any concern about the rapidly falling water line. The plan to maintain constant supply from Upper Bari Doab Canal through the city has not been discussed. Rainwater harvesting systems are not available to even 1% of households and factories. Railway workshop is the only organization that has a functioning water recharge system. Any suggestion to raise water charges or penalize wastage are laughed at. Other serious issues, such as the exodus of youth from Australia/Canada, unemployed youth, and health, are not even discussed in any constituency. There are four to five cornered contests in almost every seat. Voters are confused. There is a path to this madness. The positive change that the electorate has hoped for all these years is not coming to pass is not possible.


A declining water table is a serious problem

Depleting the water table is caused by sidelining crop diversification and poor implementation of rain harvest plans, paddy cycle, paddy wheat cycle, cement liner of canals, deep tub wells, submersible engines at home, and unregulated water pumping from tubewells. The problem has been exacerbated by the availability of free water and electricity for agriculture, sowing paddy, and neglecting crop diversification. In the same way, cement lining canals has stopped groundwater recharging. The declining water table should be a serious concern. Leaders of political parties need to raise the issue so that the new government adopts policies to increase the water table. Apart from this in the past in Malwa area the drinking water was not fit for drinking, the government took initiative to install RO’s. The problem of water logging was an issue in Malwa, which was quickly resolved by building drains. If we don’t take seriously the declining water table, Doaba could experience an acute shortage of water over the next few years. The water table will plummet to unpredicted levels, which could lead to the destruction of fertile agricultural areas.


Parties are not familiar with such issues

We know that there is already a depletion of the water table and water is becoming scarce in some areas. The time for elections could be a great opportunity to conserve water. The parties could be encouraged to take action to maintain and increase water table levels, but not let them drop. This will encourage people to vote for them in order to support their good initiatives. Both parties will reap the benefits. The parties could be elected. Also, the water table could return back to normal. The problem is that many parties aren’t familiar with these issues and don’t take up these kinds initiatives. They are still in their sleep and we need to make them aware of these issues so they can take up these initiatives. Let me conclude by saying that we must make all parties aware of the rising water problem.

Sanidhya Bhaskar

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Not on the priority list of traditional parties

Since Independence, Punjab is governed mainly by Congress and SAD. Unfortunately conservation and protection of the environment and ecology are not their priorities. Five rivers give Punjab its name. Now, the water table is falling in Punjab. In Punjab, groundwater has been declining at a rate between 25-30 cm per annum for the past 20 decades. This rate will cause the state to become a desert within the next 25 years. The national average of 24.56% is lower than the 6.87% that is shown for forest and tree coverage. This is a dismal result. Lately, Sh. Balbir Singh Seechewal, an environmentist, has been discussing the issue with the public in order to raise environmental issues with all political parties ahead of the upcoming state elections. The subject seems to have lost its place due to widespread corruption that has been triggered by the mafia in almost every revenue-generating field of the state. It is impossible to expect any changes from the traditional political parties that are responsible for the financial mess that has led to 3 lakh crores of debt to the exchequer. No financial support for the state’s environmental health will be possible given the circumstances.


Water is the elixir to life

It’s no doubt that environmental degradation is the worldwide issue and so is the issue of water scarcity and conservation. Both these issues are crucial in India. The Amazon forests in Brazil are also being degraded. To make way to roads and build housing colonies, trees will be uprooted. These colonies are built by people who pay election money to the political parties. The causes of water scarcity and pollution are increasing population and vehicle numbers. These issues are not being raised by the political parties or their leaders. They also do not want to make the public aware of the possible future ill-effects from environmental degradation and the lowering of the water table. They are only interested in capturing votes and making money.

Dr. JS Wadhwa


It’s election time, and political parties are doing everything possible to win as many votes as possible. They hire VIPs to campaign, but it’s the common man who is most affected by the fact that sometimes roads are blocked to allow these VIPs to pass. What can be done about this? How can we help the common man, especially during VIP movement, to end this practice?

Suggestions should not exceed 200 words can be sent to by Thursday (February 3)

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