Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bhopal Notes :: 39 :: Winds of change

Upper Lake, Bhopal
Looks like winds of change are blowing across Bhopal, especially its iconic Lake and its sensitive surroundings that go by the technical term of “Catchments”. A news report yesterday gave the good news of the thinking in the MP government about changing over from chemical farming to organic farming on the  farms in the catchments of the Upper Lake. The government is not talking of persuading farmers for the switch but is talking of introduction, presumably, regardless of the consequences. This is what, apparently, came out of a meeting that was held by various governmental representatives with the local Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

 In fact, this should have been done long back. One wonders what the Bhopal Municipal Corporation, Department of Environment and the Department of Water Resources have been doing so far. They should have moved in the matter long back as it is well within their knowledge that fertilizers and pesticides were being used by the farmers in the catchments of the Lake. However, as happens in the governments all over the country, these matters vital for the prim maintenance of the country’s assets as also wellbeing of its people are lost sight of  - with, one might add, impunity.

The question of introducing organic farming was discussed in the Bhopal Citizens’ Forum years ago, may be seven to eight years ago. A letter was also addressed to the MP government as a sequel to that. But there was no action whatsoever although pollution of the waters of the Lake frequently came up in public discourses. None in the government seems to pay any attention to what people or groups or non-governmental institutions have to say in regard to various matters relating to public wellbeing. There is an air in the government of total proprietary rights to all knowledge and a kind of disdain for what they receive from sources that are unofficial. Hence such information or suggestion could well be ignored.

 I recall having read in the newspapers a few months ago that the government has decided to create an organic farming zone the location for which was the district of Dindori. That was well and good but I wonder whether the zone has taken off. However, in the process, it clean forgot of the catchments of the Upper Lake where organic farming is an utter need for providing purer drinking water to people to whom its water is supplied. Virtually everybody knows that the lake is highly polluted with the inflow of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, sewage and what have you. If the government could cut out one of these it would serve a great purpose. But, that is how it is with the government; each department seemingly works in a silo knowing little of whatever is happening outside it.

Introduction of organic farming in the catchments of the Upper Lake should not prove to be a big deal. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have been practicing it for about a decade now. They have also successfully tried neem-based pesticides and fertilizers which has led to job creation in rural areas. Enough evidence of the state’s success could be had from various sources. Hopefully the local government will go full steam ahead in implementing the proposal without incurring avoidable delay in finalising it.

*photo: from internet
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