Make every day Earth Day
Updated: Apr 22
Our Earth our future
By Vindhyeshwari Kumari
Development is a word which is gleefully used for, more often than not, growth, expansion, which could be in the form of construction ranging from large scale projects like residential townships, commercial complexes, factories, bridges, roads or individuals building houses, religious places, etc. But do the people who matter, the policy makers, the planners, ever sit back and think of where this unchecked urbanisation is heading? All we do is build, construct, dig in the earth, dig inside rivers, the seas, oceans, blow up hills and mountains, cut down tracts and tracts of forests. Reclaim land from the sea to construct more and more. We just don’t stop. Our maniacal chase to do more “development” has made us blind to this irreversible environmental degradation that we are heading for. We are tweaking and playing with nature and the environment. Our myopic eyesight doesn’t let us think or plan beyond the present!
We, the human race, have taken the adage – Leave no stone unturned - very seriously! We have left no place untouched – land, water and sky.
Growth and development of every type is required, no denying that, but can we not be more respectful towards other living beings, nature, environment – our dear Earth. We have to live with all other species – all kinds of fauna and flora. We have to co-exist, can’t be selfish. Humans should realise we will not survive without the forests, rivers, seas, oceans, birds, animals, insects, basically everything that walks, flies, swims and breathes. We cannot finish off everything that we set our eyes on.
In order to save ourselves, we need to immediately stop burning carbon based fuels. Renewable energy is the way forward. Save water. Avoid single use plastic, use degradable materials. Recycle as much as you can. Plant trees and look after them, they are the lungs of the earth and for all the construction that is taking place, it can be sustainable (green) architecture. Build, if you must, but minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, development space and the ecosystem at large. Ecological conservation has to be the key word when designing and planning towns and cities.
A number of ministries in India at the federal level and in the states are responsible for conserving nature and the earth but their efforts seem too inadequate. Actually 'Earth Day' should be observed daily by all of us by reducing human footprint in every possible way.
Talking about urban planning, have you ever thought about how many parks, gardens, public spaces, play grounds have we got in our own city Indore and scores of similar towns and cities in the country? Indore, the cleanest city in the country, financial capital of Madhya Pradesh and a cosmopolitan city. But try and think how many good public parks or public gardens come to mind. I couldn’t count beyond two. A city with a population of over twenty lakh and spread over 530 square kilometres can’t boast of even five good parks or gardens where senior citizens can walk, sit around with friends, health enthusiasts can jog, run or do yoga. Breathing in clean air, with fountains spraying water, beautiful flowers blooming and birds chirping. Children can play out in the open instead of being stuck in front of the television screens or computers. Parks have a significant impact on the development of children and the happiness of everyone in the neighbourhood. Parks are a crucial part of any community.
These are just some ways we can try and check the unrestrained urbanisation. Let the city dwellers also live close to nature and respect it and help conserve and preserve the environment.
Now we have an added problem caused by the ongoing Covid 19 crisis. The large quantum of plastics, medical and e-waste that is being generated due to this pandemic (PPE Kits, masks, plastic wrappers, syringes, packaging material etc) and all that is creating problems for disposing them off. We have to ensure that the waste is disposed off carefully and responsibly and it further doesn’t harm the already overburdened planet.
All that I have written is nothing that concerned citizens don’t already know about. One is not sure if the people who sit in offices of power really care. I, being a part of The Nature Volunteers (TNV), a leading conservation movement NGO, thought that Earth Day was a good occasion to reiterate these issues and forewarn everybody that there is still time to take control and reverse the harm that we have inflicted on the earth. All this is resulting in temperatures rising and global warming is a reality, a major problem that we all should be working to address, if we have to survive.
At the global level too, a number of UN agencies are engaged in impressing upon various nations to take urgent steps, yet, I feel, civil society and governments also must open their eyes to what they are doing to Mother Earth and stop the ongoing devastation. Everybody has to share the onus of saving our planet.
Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection and to honour the earth. It was first held on April 22, 1970
The writer is the Joint Secretary of The Nature Volunteers (TNV) and has been associated with the organisation for almost a decade.