The rapid expansion and new breakthroughs in the arena of science and technology have taken humankind into a new age. The developments have both pros and cons. On the one hand, while technological developments have affected almost every aspect of human life, at the other, it has its devastating effect on the nature itself. Thus mankind faces double challenges from modern machines and from saving the nature, the mother earth. At this paradoxical juncture, the role of media, so to say, becomes very important and worthwhile. In this modern knowledge-society, media plays the role of facilitator of development, disseminator of information, and being an agent of change. Regarding the issue of environment awareness, media plays a vital role in spreading the true message. Along with bringing it into the hub of debates and discussions, it tries to suggest alternatives to people and policy-makers. First of all, the mere awareness also creates a genuine interest to probe into the exact matter. Thus, environment awareness is one of the important issues which media presents consciously and effectively to say a few things to the people.
The awareness on environment has shown multiplicity of results in the form different issues of livelihood rights, of displacement and rehabilitation, of sustainability, of pollution led damages and it’s control etc. Thus, the all pervading media has really raised the awareness on environment among people.
To see how far media has attempted to raise the awareness, a case study is taken of the fortnightly-published magazine, from the Center for Science and Environment-‘DOWN TO EARTH’. This magazine is solely committed to raise each and every issue regarding environment, nature and sustainable development. From the various issues of concern, in this paper, three important issues are raised. They are the rural regeneration, the drought in Gujrat, and the air pollution in Delhi .
The next logical step to environment protection is that of environment regeneration .As thy name suggests, it raises issues of regeneration: of biomass, watershed and other sources of sustainable development. This process is needed to be
Undertaken in a ‘satyagraha’ mould. Without the concerted effort, it would be difficult to produce enough of foodgrains, drinking water and biomass to sustain the burgeoning population. The population has touched the all time high of 1000million mark. Every million hectare of India ‘s land today supports about 3 million people.
Studies conducted by Indian environmentalists over the last decade have clearly shown that the majority of the people survive within ‘a biomass-based subsistence economy’, that is, on products obtained from plants and animals. Over the coming years, India ‘s demand for food, firewood, fodder, building materials like timber and thatch, industrial raw materials and various such products will grow by leaps and bounds.
Alongwith foodgrains, production of milk, cotton, rubber, fish, and various other sources of food and industrial raw materials must grow rapidly. Almost half the industrial output comes from biomass-based industry and so even industrial output will be seriously affected if biomass production cannot keep pace with the population growth. At the same time, to meet basic survival needs, firewood production must increase from a current production of 100 million tonnes to about 300 million tonnes and green fodder production from about 230 million tonnes to 780 million tonnes.
India’s land area is not going to increase and, therefore, these growing demands can be met only if we can find highly productive systems for growing all forms of biomass from foodgrains to grasses and trees which will be at the same time ecologically-sound and sustainable-not technical systems that give bumper yield today but discount the future. The limited land and water resources will come under increasing pressure to meet these diverse biomass needs. India has to find a strategy to optimise the use of it’s
Natural resources in a way that it can get high productivity as well as sustainability.
This will pose a major scientific, social and political; challenge for India . And in this, India can learn precious little from the countries of the so-called developed world. As the economies and populations of the Western world grew, they began to extract resources from other parts of the world. First there was the stage of colonialism. Today it is done through the world market system. Western countries are net importers of biomass
Products from the Third World not net exporters to the Third World.
Indian villages are highly integrated agrosylvopastoral systems. In other words, each Indian village has its own croplands, grazing lands and tree or forestlands, and each of these land-use components interacts with each other. What happens in one component invariable impact on the others? The entire village ecosystem is often held in fine ecological balance. Trees or forestlands provide firewood. This helps villagers to avoid the burning of cow dung, which in turn helps them to maintain the productivity of their croplands where this dung is applied as manure. Simultaneously trees and crops help to compliments the grassland in the supply of fodder for domestic animals. Grass is generally available from the grassland during the monsoon period. As grass availability declines with the unset of the dry months, crop residues obtained from croplands and leaf fodder obtained from trees helps animals to tide over the typical scarcity period.
This finely tuned system can be easily split apart. If too many trees were cut for commercial or any other reason or growing population pressures were to force local people to expand their croplands and, thus, reduce the area of the adjoining forest and grazing lands, there would be a growing shortage of firewood and people would be forced to burn cow dung as cooking fuel, leaving little manure to fertilise the croplands, affecting, in the long run, their productivity too. Moreover, as fodder sources decline, animals will starve and will not produce much cowdung anyway. Overall biomass production in the village ecosystem will steadily go down, the system will become increasingly susceptible to the vagaries of the weather (in other words, floods and droughts) and will soon take on the shape of pseudo-desert. Nearly half of India is today a pseudo-desert.
It is not only the various components of the land sub-system that interact with each other. The land sub-system in turn interacts with the animal, water and energy sub-systems of the overall village ecosystem and all these sub-systems interact with each other to sustain overall productivity and extend economic and ecological stability. Animals, for instance, not only provide theoretical energy input into croplands that is required for ploughing, threshing and other farm operations, they also lend stability to the vililage economy during a drought period when cropland production is most likely to fail. Similarly, the land sub-system interacts with the water sub-system. When dighging ponds and tands for harvesting wear totide over the dry period, it is equally important to change the land-use of village ecosystem in a way that the vatvhment of the tand isprotected by trees. Otherwise soil erosion will be excessive and the village community would have to desalt the tank every so often.
Indian peasants have always understood these interrelationships and it is not surprising to find that Indian farmers are not just simply practitioners of agriculture but a mix of agriculture, animal care and sylviculture which requires the intensive use of croplands as well as of the grazing lands and forest lands adjoining the village. And as a community, Indian villages have been great water harvesters, possibly the best in the world.
What Indian desperately needs today is the holistic enrichment of each of its village ecosystems. By holistic we mean an approach in which attempts are made to increase the productivity of all the components of the village ecosystems. By holistic we mean an approach in which attempts are made to increase the productivity of all the components of the village ecosystem- from its grazing lands and forestlands to its croplands, water systems and animals and in a way that this enrichment is sustainable. Current rural development efforts are extremely fragmented, they focus mostly on agriculture, and often the effortsare contradictory and counterproductive. For instance, the people who build ponds and tanks do not want to do anything about getting an appropriate landuse implemented in the village to rotect the catchment of these tanks. Those who look after animal husbandry or promote dairying operations pay little attention to increasing fodder supply. The only way to end these fragmented approaches is to promote integrated village ecosystem planning.
The most important goals of village ecosystem planning for biomass regeneration will have to be: 1] enhancement of the total natural resource base of the village ecosystem; 2] production of basic biomass needs of the village community on a priority basis; and, 3] equity in the distribution of biomass resources.
Thus, any village-level plan to both sustainable and equitous would have to be a matrix of solutions which keeps in mind the specific natural resource base of the village, its biomass needs and its social structure.
The biggest problem lies in the alienation that the modern state has created amongst village communities towards their commons. Before the advent of the modern state, grazing lands ,forest lands and water bodies were mostly common property and village communities played an important role in their use and management. The British were the first to nationalize these resources and bring them under the management of government bureaucracies. In other words, the British initiated the policy of converting common property resources into government property resources.
This expropriation has alienated the people from their commons and has started a free-for-all. Today even tribal, who have lived in harmony with forests for centuries, are so alienated that they feel little in felling a green tree to sell it off for a pittance. Repeatedly tribal groups, what is the point in saving the forests have asked us, because if they don’t take them first, the forest contractors would take them away. The desperate economic condition of the poor, made worse by ecological destruction, has often left them with no other option but to survive by cutting trees. Unless people’s alienation from their commons can be arrested and reversed, there cannot be any regeneration of common lands.
Why is people’s participation in the regeneration of common lands so crucial?
To answer this question it is important to understand the key obstacle to environmental regeneration. India ‘s ecology is such that any piece of land, left to itself, will soon get converted into a forest except in a few desert districts of Western Rajasthan and in the upper reaches of the Himalayan mountains. In a country like India where agriculture and animal husbandry are closely intertwined activities, the animal pressure is extremely high. Continuous grazing not only suppresses all regeneration of trees, but also steadily reduces the productivity and the quality of the grasslands. In fact, this is why vast tracts of India have today come to be called wastelands.
The use of the word ‘wasteland’ by the government to describe degraded lands has conjured up an image of vast tracts of land that are lying totally unused and barren. On the contrary, no piece of land in India can lie barren and degraded for a long time-India’s ecology would automatically turn it into a forest -unless it is constantly overused or misused. In other words, all ‘wastelands’ have intense users.
Government programmes have over the years created a feeling of total dependence within the people. Today, villagers not only expect the government to build roads and schools and give them employment but also plant trees and grasses and look after their local water sources like ponds and tanks. This has been self-defeating. The villagers themselves can only manage the natural resource base of a village. Rational use and maintenance of village land and water resources needs discipline. Villagers have to ensure that animals do not graze in their protected commons, the catch-ments of their local water bodies are conserved and properly used, and the common produce from these lands is equitably distributed within the village. The government cannot do this in each and every village of India . Environmental regeneration in every village of India is a task that the people must undertake themselves.
The villagers can do all this and more, only if there is an effective village-level institution to energise and involve them in controlling and managing their environment, and to resolve any disputes that may arise amongst them. Unfortunately, there is an effective forum in Indian villages today for this purpose.
Voluntary agencies are often cited as effective agents for ensuring people’s participation in rural development programs. We have found that all good cases of environmental regeneration undertaken by voluntary agencies are invariably those cases where voluntary agencies have set up an effective institution at the village level and then give moral, technical and financial support to it. But it is the creation of a village level institution which brings the people together, spurs them into action and ensures the protection and the development of the natural resource base.
The Village of Sukhomajri
The village of Sukhomajri near Chandigarh , has been widely hailed for its pioneering efforts in microwatershed development. The inhabitants of Sukhomajri have protected the heavily degraded forest land that lies within the catchment of their minor irrigation tank. The tank has helped to increase their crop production nearly three times and the protection of the forest area has greatly increased grass and fodder availability. This in turn has greatly increased milk production. In just about five years, annual household incomes have increased by an estimated Rs. 2,000 to 3,000-a stupendous achievement by any count and all of it has been achievement through the improvement of the village natural resource base and self-reliance. Few government schemes can boast of such results.
The crucial role in this entire exercise was played by a village-level institution that was specifically created in Sukhomajri for the purpose. This institution called the Hill Resources Management Society consists of one member from each household in the village. Its job is to provide a forum for the village. Its job is to provide a forum for the villagers to discuss their problems, mobilise them to take control over their environment and ensure discipline amongst its members. The society makes sure that no household grazes its animals in the watershed and in return it has created a framework for a fair distribution of the resources so generated-namely, water, wood and grass-amongst all the households in the village. Today the entire catchment of the tank is green and the village is prosperous, capable of withstanding drought.
The Chipoko Movement:
Nowhere in the world has a more successful community afforestation programme been organised than the one spearheaded by the Chipoko Movement under the leadership of the Dasholi Gram Swarajya Maandal in Gopeshwar. The Mandal has organised an informal village-level institution in each of the villages it is working. This institution-a Mahila Mangal Dal- consists of a woman member from each household in the village. These village dals have slowly taken control of the community lands surrounding their villages. They protect these lands, plant trees on them and ensure fair distribution of the grass and fodder the becomes available in increased quantities from these lands. The forum of the Mahila Mangal Dal provides the women of these villages an opportunity to get together, discuss their problems, seek their solutions and assert their priorities. And now from afforestation, they are steadily moving towards articulation other needs and activities like provision of drinking water, schools for their children and primary health care facilities.
The concept of Pani Panchayats, another type of village level institution, was developed by Gram Gaurav Pratisthan in Pune to bring about equitable distribution of a scare resource like water in an acutely drought prone area. This is an extremely difficult objective to achieve. Yet Pani Panchayata have done it.
They help villages to discuss their problem and organize them to distribute irrigation water equitably. A Pani Panchaya consists of all marginal farmers, landless laborers and Harijans in a village – all of whom unite because of their common desire for irrigation water for their parched fields. Once water is made available, the panchayat controls its distribution, use and even the cropping pattern. For instance, all villages with Pani Panchayats have decided that water-consuming crops like sugar cane will not be grown by their members so that the maximum number of members and the maximum amount of land can benefit from the limited water resources available.
The St. Xavier’s Behavioral Science Centre in Ahmedabad has been organizing afforestation programmers in the highly saline lands of the Bhal area of Gujurat. The Centre has formed cooperatives in each of the villages it is working. The cooperatives consist of all households of the scheduled caste community of vankars living in these villages. The cooperatives have undertaken afforestation projects on the community lands of vankars. It seems that the state government has setup cooperatives of schedule casts communities in the 1950 and had alloted land to them, but the land has since been lying waste. As the afforestation programme supported by the Behavioral Science Centre began to yield money- prosopies juliflora trees were grown in their wood converted into charcoal-resentment within the dominate Rajput community also began to grow. But the cooperative’s way able to continue their works and organised the poor workers to manage the community lands, earn money and achieve a high degree economy and independence.
Participation of Women
It is absolutely vital that women play an important role in the affairs of village communities. Experience in India shows that women takes an active interest in programmes design to improve ecological condition because of their cultural determined role as fuel, fooder and water carries. Despite the extra ordinary works burned that feel women have to beer, the members of Mahila Mangal Dals organised by the chipko movements willing fins the time to take on the extra burned planting and carrying for the trees and grass lands.
Women, of course, will be members of any Gram Sabha as proposed above but women really participate in any institution dominated by men. Therefore, together with the establishment of Gram Sabhas of all adults, separate Sabhas Mandals could be formed in every village, as a distinct sub-unit of the Gram Sabha, but with clearly and legally defined rules, rights and access to funds. The national commission on self-employed women has also recommended the revival of Mhila Mandals in every village.
The institutional mechanisms needed to ensure women’s participation have to be thought through clearly. It is already clear from all the past experience in India that women’s participation will make a crucial difference for ecological regeneration programmes must be achieved on all counts.
The ultimate purpose of political de-centralization must be to solve the moist vital programme facing India today, that of regenerating its environment and restoring the survival base of the country’s vast rural population, especially those living in ecological fragile regions of India.
India has already gain considerable experience through the numerous grass roots efforts of both governmental and voluntary agencies. All these efforts so that the involvement of the people is crucial for success. These efforts also show that equity and sustainability always go hand in hand.
The only way this objective can be achieved is by depending democracy in participation at the village-level as much as possible. Every settlement in the country must have a clearly defined environment to protect, care for an use and an open forum in which all can get together to discuss the problem and find common solutions.
By strengthening and empathizing the importance of open forum, common solutions and common natural resources, India has also has the glorious opportunity to make a determined bid to revive the young community spirit.
We are convinced that there are no solutions except through democracy and equity. Culture has as much as role to play as does technology. Gandhiji’s concept of village republics has been an imperative.
Indians have lived with drought since time immemorial. Communities have built water-harvesting structures and learnt to treasure the value of every raindrop. All this has been done keeping in mind that it does not rain throughout the year and it may not rain next year. Therefore it would not be wrong to say that the Indian media has no sense of history. The media’s reaction to the drought is the same as their reaction to a fire or a gas leak tragedy. They are treating it like a catastrophe, not as a process that needs to be managed. To begin with when other sections of society were talking about the drought as far back as October, the mainstream media woke up to it a few weeks ago, that too because water riots broke out in Gujrat at resulting in causalities. Something the media understands. Next came a flood of drought- related stories in the press. But the understanding of the crises was in the disasters mode and the issues that w3er4e raised were about disaster relief, almost as if they were talking about a cyclone or an earthquake. One nearly expected TV reporters to ask questions like what is rain, followed by what is drought and then talks about casualty figures.
But a drought is not a catastrophe. It can be managed. As part of this process communities try and anticipate the crisis. They do so by taking measures to conserve and harvest water use is regulated. Where the ecology is fragile, farmers desist from planting water-intensive crops like sugarcane and rise. More than 60 villages have proven that droughty is a myth and that this system works in the Alwar district of Rajasthan and the Jhabua district of Madhya Predesh. Even in this drought there is water for drinking and irrigation in the wells out there.
While it is good that the media has finally woken up to the drought they should try and cover it more as a process than as an event. There should be a post-drought6 coverage as well so that issues of water4 and the role of communities in managing it are kept under public scrutiny. We don’t need drought relief but relief against draught.
Then also there should be an analysis of what goes on in the name of drought-relied measures. There is a story that dated back to the time of the Nawabs of Avadh. The kingdom was experiencing a sever drought. As part of the drought relief work it was decided that a palace be built in Lucknow . The people were provided with work and food. Even the nobles and high officials were provided with work. While the workers were paid for raising the walls during the day, the nobles were paid for pulling down the walls at night, as it would be beneath their status to be seen mingling with the common folk. Everybody loved the drought.
The myth of drought
For every administrator, there is a lesson to be learnt from Gujrat’s drought. Specially since this dry spell has brought about more due to water mismanagement than an erratic monsoon.
Even as this story goes to the press, Gujrat may be witnessing many more clashes over water. From as early as December 1999, when the farmers lost their lives in supply then.
The riots over water in Jammagar district, the dread of the dry summer months ahead were felt across the state. “Water availability should have been checked in winter and the municipal corporation should have started economising on water water supply.
But the state had missed out on those early opportunities to regulate and control water supply. So much so, that even the industries in the state were given a free hand to extract groundwater for their production propose. For instance, before the water crisis had escalated to the present levels, the Tata Chemicals factory in Mithapur of Jamnagar district was extracting 14 million litter of water every day from the ground and two other lakes in the area.
Worse, the state government, seeming unaware of the water related woes of the local people, allowed the Tata Chemicals cement plant to increase production from, 1,000 tones to 2,500 tones per day. Amazed by the government’s move, D.S. Ker, president of the Gram Vikar Trust, a non-government organization (NGO) in Dwarka, was shocked: “How can the government allow expansion of such a water- intensive plant, which will deplete whatever groundwater resources are left in the region?”
This and several such desperate measures to cater to commercial and political interests seem to have taken a heavy toll on the state’s groundwater resources. The government has already conceded those all-major towns of Saurashtra, kachchh and north Gujrat and more than one -third of the state’s 18,000 villages are struggling for a daily supply of drinking water. Officials say, that with more than 100 of the state’s 140 dams having gone dry and the remaining containing g water that will last for not more a couple of weeks, running trains carrying water tankers to these regions– as was done in the 1980s– seems to be the only solution.
Meanwhile, the administration struggles to control tempers frayed by shortage of water while local people rue the government’s apathy for bringing matters to such a stage. “Those responsible for water supply overdrew water, distributed it like nobody’s business and we are paying the price now,” says Arvind Acharya, a social worker. He goes on to add: “We are sitting on a volcano that may erupt at any time.”It has, in fact, erupted.
A case in point is Rajkoit. The government is transporting groundwater collected from Wankaner to quench the thirst of Rajkot . The subsequent fallout of such a measure could spell more trouble as unrest of sort has begun to brew in Wankaner, where residents may not have enough water to see them through the scorching summer months. When the monsoons failed, a 100-kilometere (km) long pipeline was laid to supply water to Rajkot from Wankaner at a cost of about Rs 75 crore. The project was implemented in an amazingly short period of three-four months.
It was decided that 45 million liters of water would be extracted daily from 125 borewells dug in the Jamboodia Reserve Forest in the Halbar- Wankaaaanedr area. ” In the four months that grolujdwater is eight extracted from the reserve, the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Wankaner. Singh has been severely protesting the t5ransport of water from Wankaner for Rajkot .
AIR POLLUTION IN DELHI :
One person dies every hour in Delhi due to ambient air choked with particles. Diesel exhaust is a major source of fine particles that are the most lethal. Environmental regulators in California and elsewhere are putting the brakes on diesel cars. But transnational carmakers – from Toyota and ford to Mercedes- are bringing diesel cars into India . While this is not against the law, it will certainly add to the body count in India cities.
Some observations are noted below:
- One person dies prematurely every hour in Delhi due to the extremely high levels ofsuspended particulate matter (SPM) in the city’s ambient air, according to a study conducted conducted by the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). Moreover, 52,000 people die every year in 36 Indian cities due to high levels of SPM.
- The real killers are fine particles- the smaller the particles the deeper they penetrate into the respiratory tract.
- Diesel engines produce 10-100 times more particles (one to two orders of magnitude) than petrol engines.
- Over 90 percent of these particles are dangerously fine.
- Delhi uses 2.5 times more diesel than petrol.
- Diesel particles are very carcinogenic. In 1997, a Japanese scientist identified in diesel emissions the most potent carcinogen known as of date.
- There is no technology that can get rid of dangerous particles in diesel exhaust. As the diesel fuel quality gets better and the engine designs get efficient, the number of PM2.5s (particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter) rises dramatically.
- The concentrations of particles less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10s) reaches six times the recommended levels in Delhi winters. The only way to prevent air quality from deteriorating further is to substantially reduce the use of diesel.
- The Supreme Court (SC) of India has already ordered that all diesel buses in Delhi should move to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) by March 31, 2001 , which will reduce particulate emissions from vehicles by 30-35 percent. But particulate levels have to drop by 90 percent if Delhi is to get clean air.
- It was hoped that liberalisation of the car industry would help bring better and cleaner technology to India . But transnational carmakers, who are aware of the severe pollution load in Indian cities, are promoting diesel cars, creating a very obvious and serious threat to public health.
- While the Indian government does next to nothing to control air pollution, people will keep dying in Indian cities due to car industry’s lack of regard for public health. The transnationals’ lack of moral responsibility will kill urban Indians.
The transnational carmakers’ claim that dieselisation is a global phenomenon does not hold water. It is difficult to ignore the enormous body of evidence proving that environmental regulators are discouraging the use of diesel in several parts of world, most of them with better with better air quality than Delhi . Yet environmental regulations in India have been turning a Nelson,s eye to the diesel menace. Diesel is less than half the price of petrol in India , and almost all car companies are introducing diesel versions of private cars. While Indian companies can say that they where not aware of the public health effects of diesel vehicles, the transnationals cannot offer the same reason. They are aware of the danger that fine particles from diesel emissions pose to public health. So, by bringing in diesel cars to India , they are deliberately adding to the risk to public health to earn fast profit.
Despite knowing that SPM levels are extremely high in Delhi and that fine particles from diesel exhaust kill, transnational auto manufactures in India evade the issue of diesel exhaust completely and spread total disinformation, especially as they know there is nobody in the government to question them. They are aware that as of now, there is no technology in the world that can effectively control the levels of fine particles in diesel emissions. This becomes all the more ominous in the light of WHO’s conclusion that there are no safe limits of SPM. So there is no reason for adding to the existing SPM overload in cities like Delhi by selling more diesel cars, even if they meet the most stringent emission norms.
Moreover, articles and advertisements issued by car manufactures and their association have been appearing in the media, deliberately trying to mislead people about diesel cars and the state of population in Indian cities, Delhi in particular.
To find out what industry leaders feel about the high SPM levels in Delhi , researchers with CSE’s Right to Clean Air Campaign sent a questionnaire to the top brass of transitional companies in India . This was to act as an assessment of these corporate giants’ sense of moral responsibility and how they factor in environmental and public health concerns while making their investment decisions.
Almost all chief executive officers (CEOS) or other senior executives responded to the questionnaire. While each company insisted that it was concerned about the environment, not one addressed the question of particulates properly. Every single one of them evaded this issue. The tone of the CEO’s responses was underlined by two factors: On the one hand, they want to maintain an image of concern towards public health. To this end, they do not hesitate to misinform and disinform. But their real concern is to defend their investment, which they do by saying that diesel is an environment-friendly fuel.
Deaths due to high SPM levels in cities like Delhi hardly figure on the agenda of transnational carmakers. They want profits at any cost, as long as they not caught breaking any rules. The dieselisation of the Indian private vehicle fleet is propelled by transnationals, who are very careful about what they do back home. If governance in India is weak, it is clear that even these auto giants will take advantage of it.
Delhi faces the challenge of decreasing 90 percent of its particle load if the capital’s air is to become clean. In this scenario, each and every diesel vehicle sold at the showroom makes the air that much heavier with particles. One would expect that it is easier for the private vehicle fleet to move away from diesel while the same will be difficult for public transport. Not really. After the Supreme Court order, Delhi ‘s buses are going switch to CNG to help bring down the SPM load. All that effort will be in vain if transnational carmakers keep flooding the market with diesel cars. This amount to a sabotage of the SC order.
Transnational’ claims that they would meet the most stringent emission norms also seems doubtful. While their cars may meet the norms at the factory gates, chances are that they would not meet the norms a few months later on the road, given the poor quality of fuel, especially diesel, in India.
All companies interviewed say diesel cars comprise a very small fragment of the market and thus the pollution threat is minimal. But dieselistion of the private vehicle fleet is not merely an immediate problem with no long-term consequences. All over the world, pollution control agencies look several years ahead while decking on emission norms because improvement of air quality requires long-term planning. But, in India , where the problem of SPM load is most acute, the trend seems to be to look backward. While the world is increasingly showing signs of moving away from diesel, the Indian market is seeing more cars running on diesel that is kept cheap for the requirements of the nation’s food security.
While the Indian government knows very little about the air pollution problem, let alone doing anything to deal with it, transnatioal carmakers say public health is primarily the concern of the government. So where does this leave the residents of urban Indian? Dead, probably. Because we do not have a government that will protect the health of the people.
The different sets of studies have share that how the Centre for Science and Environment through its publication ‘Down To Earth’ have tried their best to bring complex but important issues into limelight. The coverage has raised furores among many. Starting from ministers to bureaucrats to big fundamentalist, everybody is looking forward to the issues raised by the magazine. The publication has not only susucceded in bringing issues which were considered non-important in the popular parlance have gained importance and popularity overnight. Thus we can say with confidence that the magazine has served its purpose well. One can only hope that more and more publications of this kind must care forward and spread the awareness regarding environmental issues among a vast array of concerned citizens. Thus media has performed its part with much interest and enthusiasm as well as with great precision. Long live the enthusiasm, long live the quest for excellence.