Friday, February 19, 2010

800 new vehicles registered each day? Too much!

800 new vehicles registered each day? Too much!

Planning, education, enlightened consumerism to preserve environment

Bosky Khanna

Pollution in Bangalore is touching alarming levels. The quality of air and water has degraded drastically over the last few years. As the head of environmental strategy, Environment Agency, UK, John Seager has been part of many initiatives around the globe to combat pollution. He had an interactive session with Karnataka State Pollution Control Board officials on Thursday. Speaking to Bosky Khanna on the sidelines of the event, Seager said that the pollution board should ensure that the environment does not become a casualty to the rapid pace of infrastructure development in the city.

What brings you to Bangalore?
I am here to support programmes for controlling pollution, improving water quality and sanitation and uplifting slum-dwellers. I have come to understand the problems and help draft solutions. I am also looking at the work of Water and Sanitation for Urban Poor, a non-governmental organisation working in 30 slums of Mahadevapura constituency.

What is the biggest environmental challenge Bangalore faces?
Bangalore is seeing rapid development. But development needs to be sustainable. Pollution control boards have to ensure that the environment is not affected. I was shocked to learn that every day, 800 new vehicles are registered.

How can these problems be solved?
Environmental impact assessment of all projects should be done. A good system to make sure that environmental aspects and planning are properly linked is important. Proper enforcement of standards through a regulatory system is needed. Criminal cases should be filed and strict action taken against violators. Education, especially of youth, is important.

What UK practices can be implemented here?
In the UK, companies adopt waste management. They focus on saving water and energy. It has been communicated to them that good environmental practices lead to good business. They are given incentives for adopting environment-friendly measures. Besides, they themselves reap benefits.
Bangalore needs proper infrastructure. This morning, when I reached Bangalore, I saw most storm water drains closed. This will only lead to flooding. The menace of plastic bags should be dealt with. In the UK, this has been addressed by super markets. Incentives are given to customers if they return plastic bags. This way, there is no littering of bags, and they are recycled.

What is your view of Bangalore and its environment?
Bangalore is a very exciting and dynamic place. The pace of economic development in the city should be maintained. But the environment should also be protected. Else, there can be ecological and economical disaster. Planning should always take into account the environmental aspects.

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