Shri Alok Sharma, Mayor of Bhopal, announced the other day that he would build a 20-crore temple of Dharti Mata (Mother Earth) on top of the Manuabhan hill. How suddenly the need for a temple of Dharti Mata arose is not quite clear. That there is already a temple on top of the hill is, of course, not quite a matter for consideration for him.
What one would like to point out to the Mayor is that worshipping the Mother Earth is not what she surely wants. What she wants is a little sensitive care for her. Mother Earth holds within her lap Nature which, in its narrow sense, is our physical world with all its essential elements that we use and have mostly fouled up by our profligate, uncaring use of them. She needs no worshipping accompanied by the whole ritualistic rigmarole of burning oil lamps with incense and loud recitation of mantras and tolling of bells but a little sympathetic nurturing. It has within its all-embracing confines the air that we breathe, water that is elixir for our life, the “good” earth” that provides habitat for not only humans but also for myriad other organisms. All those we have degraded; water and air have been polluted and the land – the very land on which we live and thrive – has been ravaged and largely despoiled. Now, therefore, worship is not what is required; what “dharti mata” needs is consideration for Her wellbeing and, strangely but truly, through only Her well being will we find our own wellbeing.
That, however, is another matter. Now that the Mayor has decided to please “Ddharti Mata” and has assured her of a temple dedicated to Her it seems to be right time for him to be reminded of the assurances that he had held out more than a year back for mere mortals like us. I remember in February 2015 he had visited our Ridge Road on the Idgah Hills and having seen its miserable condition he had promised to provide a shiny new surface, clean enough to be used like a brass or steel platter for dining. Similar promises he had doubtlessly made elsewhere too. A whole year has gone by but there is no sign of any move to build the roads. The year that has gone by has witnessed further deterioration of the Ridge Road and passing over its potholes and ditches even sitting in a car have become painful. The same would be true of numerous other residential areas in the town.
The Mayor has spent quite a bit of energy towards building a Smart City in Bhopal including “pan-city” (smart) upgrade. He seems to forget that while smart solutions for solving problems of citizens with the help of Information and Communication Technology is feasible but there are no smart solutions for problems of commuting for commuters other than building a nice, decent and even surfaced road. For numerous localities in Bhopal, including Ridge Road, roads in real sense are virtually non-existent. What they have are broken down, badly maintained roads more like the ones of pre-Industrial Revolution vintage.
Instead of honouring the assurance given to “Dharti Mata” the Mayor will do well to honour the assurances given to the people of the town. That will be more in fulfillment of the mandate that he has been given on his victory at the mayoral elections last year