Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I am writing this only to convey to you the anguish of a large number of people and that of mine at the insensitiveness of your government. How could a responsible administration with hordes of bright bureaucrats could not think twice before conducting an hour-long session of fireworks from various sites around the Upper Lake the other day for which an unseemly crowd of a lakh or so had been asked to collect on the VIP Road? As if the Lake is not polluted enough; as if all the drains discharging pollutants into it have been plugged; as if the motorised boats plying on it have not been polluting it already; as if thousands who collect for the so-called “Raahgiri” days heaping litter on to the Lake were not enough that you had to go and shower enormous amounts of carbon on its waters. The Diwali fireworks this year had been prolonged and the government need not have indulged in another spell of fireworks in this ‘grand’ scale so soon spending massive amounts of public money, unless it was meant for mere self-promotion.

It was a kind of height of irony. Your own government had engaged CEPT in 2011 for recommending measures for conservation of the Upper Lake, the report of which has not been (deliberately?) worked upon yet. And, here was the same government going about polluting the Lake by its own indiscreet action. For God’s, sake, don’t you know that we use its waters for drinking purposes? With the heavy metals released from the immersed effigies of gods and goddesses, the waters are not what one could call potable, the Corporation’s treatment being hardly effective. And instead of improving the quality of water you take steps to needlessly pollute it more with loads of carbon.

You must have blown a crore of rupees, if not more, on the fireworks. Last year, as much as 5 crores were spent on “Jheel Mahotsav” but not a pie was spent for its conservation. The government refrain before the National Green Tribunal has been that for want of money its directions could not be acted upon. The heavily silted Lake bed needs to be de-silted but the government has no money for either buying or hiring a dredger. But there is enough to be blown up on activities harmful for the Lake. It is being exploited to the hilt only to degrade it every day by the thoughtless actions of your government. The Sports Authority of India and the Sair Sapata have already forced the birds to quit their traditional roosting place and damage the Lake’s ecosystem. Now your government is ensuring unmitigated harm to its waters.

 We, who feel for the Lake, agree with the three university researchers who had said last year that by the end of this century the Lake wouldn’t exist as we know it because of the way it is being degraded and allowed to decay. We, however, now feel that this may happen much sooner than that because, given the way your government is hell-bent in destroying it, the Lake will remain a couple of decades from now only as a shrunk and shrivelled small spread of filthy water, unfit for human consumption. A millennium old inheritance is going to be lost to posterity, thanks to your government’s uncaring and mindless actions.

Lastly, a city which is starving for basic civic amenities, where roads are in a shambles, where sewer and water pipelines constantly leak or overflow, where garbage piles up without being cleared and where the landfill in Khanti is burning polluting the environs rendering several people sick your government, according to us, had no business in staging this expensive show. These are only opiates it is trying to administer to the people to make them forget their otherwise miserable quality of life. Remember, people are not fools. They can and will see through these ploys.
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DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Rama Chandra Guha, free-thinker, author and historian Ram Chandra Guha, a free-thinker, author and...