Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Worshipping Stinking Rivers

They do not worship rivers in Europe or North America. Yet the rivers there are spic and span with their water in most cases potable enough for drinking. Not only are there strict laws to ensure that untreated domestic and industrial wastes are not released into these rivers but also there is a high level of civic awareness about keeping the rivers clean. However, in India where not only do we worship rivers but have huge gatherings for doing so, the situation is exactly the opposite. Throughout the country and especially in the  metropolises untreated waste water is being indiscriminately released into rivers and streams. So the Yamuna  River is biologically dead in the 25 kilometer stretch within the city of Delhi having no dissolved oxygen whatsoever and instead having huge amounts of pollutants. So much so that tubewells nearby drawing water from more than 50 metres underground spew out  polluted water. The picture below shows water coming out of the tubewell in Geeta Colony in Delhi and immediately foaming.

Millions of people take holy dips in the Ganges River during the Kumbh Melas that are held every twelve years alternatively at Allahabad and Haridwar and also in the Shipra River in Ujjain and the Godavari at Nashik. None of these Rivers are clean and so it is really a conundrum as to how those taking dips in them can become holy. In fact a report in the Hindu newspaper says that the recently concluded Kumbh Mela in Allahabad has left a pile of trash and filth at the Sangam that is going to be a Herculean task to clean. Whenever I cross a stinking river or stream in a town or city I feel deeply disturbed that we have not been able to take a few simple steps to tackle this problem which is getting more and more serious by the day.
Another Kumbh Mela is to take place in Ujjain in 2016. So preparations have begun in earnest. The Shipra river in Ujjain is polluted heavily due to the stinking water that is discharged into it by the Khan River from Indore city and also other streams from Dewas town in addition to the untreated sewage from Ujjain itself. So the Government has initiated a project to lift water from a canal carrying irrigation water from the Indira Sagar dam on the Narmada River up some 300 meters and 30 kilometers to augment the flow of the Shipra. Simultaneously it wants to build a by pass canal to take the dirty water from the Khan River away from its confluence with the Shipra and make it join the latter after it passes through Ujjain. A few thousand crores will be spent on this when at a miniscule fraction of this cost to the exchequer decentralised waste water treatment and disposal systems can be installed with the rich who control most of the land in cities and towns bearing the costs. There are laws and rules in place for this to be done but these are blatantly flouted with Government agencies being the biggest violators.
The NGO TARU tried to get the residents of an upper class colony in Indore to install a sewage treatment plant. The NGO wanted some buy in from the residents and so asked them to contribute a quarter of the installation cost and all of the running costs. These would all be recovered by the reuse of water leading to a lesser demand for water supply from the municipality or from underground. Yet the residents could not come to an agreement. The leaders of the colony demanded a cut from the NGO to let them carry out the project as did the staffers of the Indore Municipal Corporation. When this is the mindset of the people then it is very difficult to do anything else but wallow in the worship of stinking rivers in the cities and towns of this country.

1 comment:

nikita rai said...

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