NEED Environmental awareness
Environmental hazards can be avoided by taking simple precautions at individual level
DR. MUBASHIR JEELANI
This year we will celebrate environment week with a purpose to aware masses about all the issues which are of concern for survival. Celebrating this week this year is nothing new. In the past too we have been celebrating the week. One question that haunts me is what we have achieved from these celebrations in the past. When we see the rate of destruction happening to our environment around us, I think we should lament rather than celebrate. Are masses really aware of what we intend to make them aware about in this week? Or is it simply a ritual to celebrate such weeks to add misery to our surroundings. Have we been able to restore any of the water bodies? Have we raised any forest? How much we have reduced our dependence on the fossil fuels? How judiciously we have been using our resources. Have we stopped turning agricultural land to non-agricultural land? Do we sell and accept non-biodegradable materials. Have we in any way stopped manipulating mother Earth for our greed? Have we stopped interfering with our environment after we get awareness through celebrating “E-Weeks”. Let’s introspect. All of us know that we are facing multiple environmental problems and to most of the problems we do have better solutions with us, but we are not interested and we ignore. For instance most of us think; why carry a bag from home to purchase some fruits and vegetables, the vendor will pack it in polythene bag. One thing we forget is that this polythene is hazardous and secondly it is not free even. For how many days we will throw every shit in the nearby drains and parks. It is one such instance where every individual can contribute to his or her environment.
Let’s take for instance water consumed by us. How much water do we waste during a day. We wash with running taps without knowing about the amount we waste. We pay huge taxes to the Government which in turn is used for different services of the people including the treatment of water to make it fit for drinking. By wasting water we are misusing the money of ours. The entire resources including water are gifted to us by the Almighty Allah. And we are accountable to God for the use of these resources bestowed to humans. It is our ancestors who have used water judiciously from the times immemorial and it is because of their foresight we are getting water today. All these resources present today have been inherited and it is our duty to pass them to our future generations to come. In our houses, offices etc. on an average one to two taps are leaking, TIP….TIP……TIP is continuously heard but who cares. During winter months it is common phenomenon for prevention of water pipes from freezing. We don’t even know that approximately 90 litres of water is lost in 24 hours. Secondly now-a-days we use deodorants as a refreshing material, the future may ultimately depend on these body deodorants as there will be no water to take bath the way we are misusing the water.
In the past we used to have kitchen gardens and orchards which we used to look after ourselves. We used manure to increase fertility of the land. But now-a-days scenario has entirely changed. We have become more ambitious to grow more and more. To fulfill our desire we use pesticides, chemical fertilizer, insecticides and what not so that no room is left for damage to the crop. No doubt production increased (not long lasting) but at the cost of our environment. We have concentrated so much of chemicals in the fruits and vegetables that it has become a health hazard. Now surely an apple a day will not keep doctor away or for that matter any other fruit or vegetable. Young and dynamic environmentalists can do lot of research in this field (bioaccumulation etc.) and it will be helpful for the community.
Owning big or small cars has become a status symbol today. Whether we are able to afford it or not, but it must either be in our courtyard or at a public place (street/Gali Koccha). Ambulances, fire extinguishers may come to the localities to rescue our lives but it may fail to serve the purpose because road/street is occupied by the vehicles during days and nights. The Government should seriously look into the improvement of public transport in terms of its connectivity and infrastructure. Every time when I travel by a public bus, my shirt is cut, my hands are bruised either I slip once board off.
Another issue of the recent past here has been the dog menace. In every nook and corner people are bitten by dogs almost every day. On an average we find 50-70 dogs for a distance of 4-5 kilometers. The most probable reason for their increasing number is the enough food they get on the streets. We keep on dumping or litter the waste along the Koccha/street mostly under the electric poles (Tarikoot). Then once somebody is eaten, we come on to the streets instead of correcting our habit of throwing food on the street. The people who are found responsible for discarding food wastes should be penalized and the Mohalla Committies should come forward. Once the dogs are hungry they will vacate the place. On part of the Government, most of the dumping sites are lacking. All kinds of waste including wasted food are spread on roads. Dogs will surely enjoy the good meal every day. The Municipality should provide enough bins (closed ones) for the collection of litter/food items. The scientific methods will carry on in the mean while. Also don’t put Roti (Bread) and chawal (cooked food) on the road side with the faith that it will shun our sins. Feed hungry people instead.
Tall claims are being made that this much number of domestic and foreign tourists visited here either as tourists, pilgrims or for business purpose etc. but at the end of every year we obviously record huge losses to the environment. Tourism is a welcome step here. People associated with this trade are of this perception that they can’t survive without it. Let’s accept it for the time being that it is vital for us. All the tourism related activities depend on the health of the environment. Tourism requires clean and serene environment. But sorry to state here that in the name of services made available to the tourism sector, environment is being destroyed. Let me once again reiterate this fact that we have spectacular landscapes and we have rich depository of flora and fauna. We have so many places for physical and spiritual peace. A tourist does not come here to stay in a palatial house at a hill station. He does not want the noise of generators and vehicles. He loves the environment of the place not the AC-rooms. He does not want macadamized roads. He wants to cherish the natural beauty. He is interested to see the lush green forests. He gazes to catch the glimpses of the wild animals. He wants a cart ride not CAR ride. They come here because they are exhausted and suffocated at their places because of aggravated problems of pollution. In the name of tourism, we too have choked our serene places with dust, smoke, smog, litter, noise etc. We don’t understand that if we continue to clear forests, make tourist destination concrete with cement and bricks, one day we will have to repent. Every care should be taken that we visit fragile, pristine, undisturbed natural areas with this intention that very small or no adverse impact happens with the activities of the humans and also considering the carrying capacity of any region. Let’s promote the environmental concerns at these places.
Today we have become habitual of traveling in cars, motor bikes even for walkable distances. This habit of ours has cost us our health in the first place and fossil fuels in the second. In the past people would prefer to walk. They were neither obese nor diabetic. Their health was better than what is ours today. During the earlier periods the air was free from dust and smoke. Water was not stinking, forests were there to welcome and the destruction was very little. If we are able to inculcate habit of walking for shorter distances and use public transport preferably for longer journeys, we would be able to save ourselves from many diseases. And also at the same time would be able to conserve resource like petrol, diesel and gas.
The question now arises again that how much we care for our environment as it is a source of livelihood of millions of people. We need to look after the environment by spending some time to mend and end the exploitation of every resource.
We humans exert a very large adverse effect on majority of resources. Whenever we have to fulfill our greed not need, we go to any extent. We know if we continue to destroy forests, pollute lakes and rivers, and clear the mountains, one day we have to regret. Most probably we know the obligations of the future generations but we ignore. We are well aware of the ecological crisis at present times. We know the vagaries and tragedies but still we don’t value the environment.
Why we always advocate for human rights violation or recognition, why not we recognize rights of all biological units including those non-biological objects which are essential for maintaining biological varieties. Why should we forget that the nature will always maintain its equilibrium over the time? The various processes which take place from time to time, adverse too will happen and are likely to happen more and more under the influence of humans the destruction they do to the environment.
There is not an iota of doubt regarding this fact that maintaining quality of life is correlative to maintaining the quality of the environment. We are more concerned about ourselves. When we have to make a choice between the humans and environment, preference is given to humans without giving a thought to the fact that former can survive only by virtue of the latter. We do commit mistakes while choosing between the two. For the existence of humans, our surroundings should exist in good conditions. For instance we carve out high quality products from the forests for the decoration of our houses with pride. Have we ever thought of the services of the forest it does to us in the natural habitat? A tree is felled down, and then it is carried to the cities in the trollies, trucks etc. for making several products out of it. Have we ever thought for a while how much fuel it consumed for reaching to us, how much exhaust got added to the air, to what extent these harmful fumes can damage the human beings, Calculate yourself. Similarly all products of daily use that reach to us undergo various manufacturing processes, all processes consume energy, natural resources as raw material resulting in the over consumption of natural resources and contamination of the environment in terms of air, water, soil, pollution and destruction etc. I am not of this opinion that we should shun everything. No. but we should have a concern for environment and environmental resources. We are probably the wisest species on the earth. We should inculcate the values of environment in ourselves and consider our duties towards environment. We should at least try to strike a balance between the needs and the actual resources present.
(Dr. Mubashir Jeelani is an Environmentalist)
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Jun 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Jun 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 3 Jun 2013 00:00:00 IST
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