Lack of civic sense, the environment and India’s climate change policy

The part of Guwahati where I stay used to be green and beautiful, bordered by the Brahmaputra on the North bank. Winters used to be misty, and cold.  The roadsides were tree-lined and shady in the summers when we used to sometimes walk back from school.

As a child of maybe 10, I still knew something was not quite right when the huge silk-cotton tree that gave lovely shade was chopped down suddenly one day.But I did not know that it was only the beginning.

Slowly, the stream that is behind our house started turning into a nullah. The one in front of our house is so clogged with plastic bags that water flows onto the road now. Neighbours throw rubbish into the nullah without a second thought – this even though the municipal corporation has actually started picking up garbage from people’s homes ( they never bothered till last year).

The primary school ground where the  Bihu function is held in APril every year has become a dump for construction material. There is an open garbage bin right next to the school grounds.

High-rise apartments dot the hill-side.

The main arterial road has become clogged with traffic. Walking on the road is a risky affair – you either die of diesel fumes or the dust kills you.

These are the times when I miss the clean, green air of the USA. Seriously, I do.

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This was written last night. Today morning, when I opened the papers there was an article on India’s commitment to greenhouse gas reduction. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh ( this guy I have started admiring, he’s sticks to what he says at least) has said India is commiting to 25% reduction on carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 2010. What does this really mean in terms of reduction in greenhouse gases? Certainly does not mean we will be emitting less of CO2, because GDP will also increase. Therefore, even though India, China and other countries have already declared intentions of bringing down the CO2 per GDP, that does not seem to be enough. More on this.

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