Tuesday, August 30, 2005

'Bangalore city gasping for fresh air'

'Bangalore city gasping for fresh air'
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The 79th birth anniversary of Ramakrishna Hegde witnessed an in-depth discussion on Bangalore’s deteriorating environment.

At the symposium, ‘Bangalore and its Environment’, environmentalists Yellappa Reddy, Suresh Heblikar and freedom fighter H S Doreswamy stressed on the urgent need for planning in Bangalore as it could well become a ‘dead’ city if the authorities did not take steps to improve the quality of the environment.

Yellapa Reddy, former chief secretary in the Forest Department, spoke on the importance of ‘cosmic religion’ as propounded by Einstein.

“The need for conserving our environment has become the most addressable issue in today’s scenario. We are emitting large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Nearly 56 percent of the children in Bangalore suffer from lung-related diseases.

“To help them recover quickly, doctors are prescribing steroids to young children which would have an adverse impact on them in the long run,” he said.

“Water is the another problem facing Bangaloreans. Bangalore had 500 lakes and more than 3,000 perforation tanks (gunte) which provided drinking water. But this is history now.

“We need to spend more than Rs. 1,000 crores to pump Cauvery water to Bangalore. We are drinking virtual poison in the form of water. Our cattle also consume the same water and we drink their milk,” he said, adding that planning was required to put an end to further damage.

Sarvodaya leader H S Doresway said mining and quarrying had caused the greatest damage to the environment.

“The authorities are rolling out the red carpet for hazardous industries coming up in Bangalore. The ground water is now 1000 feet deeper and air pollution has caused diseases. There is no control over pollution. Something needs to be done urgently,” he said.

The Government should provide basic facilities to rural folk. More than 30 per cent of them do not have sanitation. The authorities should think in terms of sustainable development in the country, he pointed out.

Founder of Eco-Watch Suresh Heblikar said that the environment should not be neglected for the sake of comfort.

“What economic development are we talking about when over 30 per cent of our people have not seen electricity? Nobody wants to live in rural India. The effect of globalisation and the increasing literacy levels in rural areas, has made rural youth migrate to Bangalore.

“An increase in population will lead to an increase in pollution. We need to develop green belts around the city to contain pollution levels,” he said.

As ‘carbon sinks’ (urban forests) have become popular in European countries similar sinks should be developed in and around Bangalore and ground water should be recharged. Countries like China have more groundwater fertility than India, he said.

Former railways minister Jaffer Sharief said development was of equal importance.

“When industrialists from other states come to Bangalore they look for the availability of power, water and land. If we cannot provide these, industries will not establish plants here. This will hit employment opportunities. But, the conservation of the environment is also necessary,” he added.


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