Visual pollution in Shimla City on rise as civic body and people losing sense of civility
SHIMLA- Although, it is not an odd sight for majority of public, but visual pollution in Himachal Pradesh’s capital city Shimla is becoming a critical problem because it is being neglected by both public and government equally. The consumer culture is taking over the city and the scenario is worsening due to sticking of promotional bills, commercial and political posters, bunting, sign-boards etc on public places. While cities like Beijing (China) and São Paulo (Brazil) have put a complete ban on virtually all outdoor advertising to deal with visual pollution, the civic body of Shimla City isn’t even able to adhere to defined standards and directions for placement of billboards and hoardings.
Like most of the cities in India, queen of hills is also on the verge of losing its unique identity because every city share same cluttered view. Although, Municipal Corporation of Shimla does have defined rules & regulation regarding advertising on public places, in reality there is no execution in field. The civic body that always make excuses of shortage of funds can generate considerable revenue if it regulates advertising on public places.
Not only the public has lost aesthetic sense growing amid clutter, but even highly educated and well paid public servants and representatives lack required vision to foresee ugly consequences of not controlling visual pollution.
Entire city is cluttered by unlawfully stuck posters, overhead power lines, telephone and cable wires, and littered public places. Graffiti on public and private property is another mean to create visual pollution.
The civic body or administration of Shimla is never heard debating or preparing comprehensive strategies to deal with well any form of pollution like air and water pollution. So, it’s futile to expect them to observe other forms of pollution like visual, noise, light pollution etc.
Treatment of public spaces by student outfits of higher educational institutes like Himachal Pradesh University and colleges is even more surprising. Student bodies, despite being educated, don’t show respect and care towards public property. Students even deface legally placed hoardings as shown in above image.
Researchers have conducted studies along with laboratory experiments to establish negative psychological impact on people who are unwillingly exposed continuously to unwanted visuals.
Visual environment is no less significant a part of fabric of communities as clean water or air and animal habitat. The issue isn’t been paid heed earlier because it is mostly considered less significant and merely associated with beautification. It is newer and unconventional concept. Anything altered by human-activities that are unattractive and affects people’s ability to enjoy or appreciate the view and vista.
On the other hand, visual pollution is a kind of visual sampler, without any regulation, which affects our assimilation capability and conditions the aesthetics of our public spaces.
Considering the aforesaid statement, Shimla cityscapes have become a mixture of of irregular formations, unorganized dumping of litters, billboards, cables, wires, worn-out buildings, and heaped and congested construction.
Impacts of visual Pollution
A study published in the European Scientific Journal, June 2015, “Visual Pollution Can Have Deep Degrading effects on Urban and Sub-Urban Community: A Study In Few Places of Bengal, India, With Special References to Unorganized Billboards” shed light on some of the negative impacts.
Negative visual influence increases secretion of adrenaline, which raises the acidity of the stomach and rapid the heart rate, and thus speed irritability.
On the other hand, positive scenes increases secretion of cortisone in the body and this natural cortisone reduces the feeling of pain.
Visual pollution can also create psychological aversion and thus affect mental and physical health, says researches.
Due to unpleasant and cluttered sights visual cortex of a person is stressed. This stress is directly associated with the light frequency and variety of light to which it is exposed. Citizens are exposed, without any consideration or respect to their individuality, to a constant visual saturation. Unconscious irritation of the visual cortex can interfere with performance and sleep quality.
Studies also show that effects of visual pollution include distraction, decreases in opinion diversity, and loss of identity, and health hazards of diverse kinds, irritability and psychological disturbances, eye fatigue, loss of sense of hygiene, and felling of civility.
Loss of Aesthetic Sense in Children
Children growing up in such cluttered environment not only lose aesthetic sense, but also lose ability to react or correct it. As grownups, no matter how unpleasant their surroundings are, this clutter becomes an acceptable part of routine view. Their aesthetic sense is blunted. Civic sense and civic behavior of entire society is badly hit by it.
Psychological Longing for Natural View
Another evident proof that cluttered public spaces caste negative impact on overall wellbeing of public is our longing to witness nature in its pure form. To re-energize themselves, people mostly prefer to visit a forest, a seaside, garden, and parks which are supposedly visually and aesthetically pleasing as compared to visiting a mall or waling by roadside.
The civic bodies in popular towns of Himachal Pradesh are already struggling to manage, vehicular emissions, solid waste-disposal and to create awareness among people about littering in public places. It is no surprise that administration isn’t paying any attention to this form of pollution. However, it is the need of the time to consider other forms of pollution as hazard to social environment and economic health of a city dependent on tourism.
Rear Side of Shimla Mall Showroom Buildings
Photo Credit: Tarun Sharma