Activists want environment as poll issue in Bengal
Environmental issues don't seem to figure in the poll campaign in West Bengal, say activists.
Kolkata: Black vehicle exhaust fumes choking the atmosphere, water sources getting clogged with debris, including of idols, deforestation. These major environmental issues don't seem to figure in the poll campaign in West Bengal, say green activists who want political parties to raise them while canvassing for votes.
"It is imperative that the parties include environment issues in their manifestos, but they seldom do so. They cannot talk only about economic development and neglect the environment issues. Sustainable economic growth is achievable only by creating a balance between industrialisation and the environment," said Jayshree Roy, director, Global Climate Centre of Jadavpur University.
"One of the important issues that needs immediate attention is a cleaner transport system in the city and big towns. Besides, issues like water pollution, air pollution and deforestation should be treated with top priority," Roy told IANS.
"The world is facing the threat of climate change and global change. Efforts are being made all over the world to strike a balance between industry and environment. But sadly there seems to be a lack of political will here. Lack of awareness among the masses has compounded the problem," said the GCC director.
Echoing Roy, another environmental activist Mudur Patheriya, said: "Environmental issues are a big challenge today and the parties should raise them during their election campaign besides preparing specific plans and policies in this regard."
"One issue is vehicular pollution. Vehicular pollution is perhaps the biggest threat to our city. It is causing many fatal diseases. From children to the old all are getting affected by it," Patheriya told IANS.
He said in the city hundreds of vehicles emit black fumes well above the permissible limit. Such vehicles should be stopped and the driver arrested and sent to jail. "The government should set an example by punishing the violators," Patheriya said. Pointing out that there was no dearth of laws to control pollution, the activist said proper implementation of the laws was important to get the desired results.
Another social activist, Subhas Dutta, who has been vocal on several environment-related issues like river pollution due to immersion of idols, said political parties should be dutybound to raise their voices for environment protection.
"I don't want to rate environment issues according to their priorities; for me all the issues are alarming and immediate intervention is required from all quarters. If the political parties take the initiative the desired results will be achieved easily," said Dutta.
"But none of the political parties is interested in protecting the environment. They are more interested in other things. None of the political parties had specified any plan on environment in their previous manifestos, and this year too, I am sure they will not spare a thought to it," he said.
Tushar Kanjilal of the Tagore Society For Rural Development said that political parties should speak for environment protection to ensure comprehensive social development. He said: "They should raise environmental issues during their election campaign to generate awareness among the masses. Unless awareness is generated at the grassroot level, it is not possible for political parties or the government to prevent further damage to the environment."
"Unplanned development initiatives of the government and lack of specific plans and policies to protect the environment are intensifying the problem," said Kanjilal, a teacher widely recognised for his contribution to the cause of the underprivileged and depressed section in the Sunderbans.
The six-phase assembly poll will be held in West Bengal from April 18 to May 10.
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