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Himachal to use Korean expertise in urban management and green development (in files only)

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Green Growth in Himachal and Korean Expertise

SHIMLA- Himachal Pradesh Government, including the tenure of both major political parties, has achieved milestones in development of Himachal Pradesh but just in papers for decades. Everything is fit and fine from the perspective of the government and Himachal is the most prosperous State of India.

Recently, Himachal Pradesh Government organized a workshop in collaboration with Korea Green Growth Trust Fund (KGGTE). The Urban Development, HP Public Works Department and Environment, Science and Technology Department claimed their achievements in the workshop. Claims made by the Urban Development, Housing and Town and Country Planning Minister Sudhir Sharma were the main attraction at the workshop.

The quality of service and corruption in HPPWD isn’t hidden from anyone. The condition of roads is miserable even in the core city area of capital Shimla. The Chief Minister himself had labeled the department as the worst performer and hub of corruption. So, what sort of achievements did HPPWD claim?

In papers, the government claims excellence in the field of solid waste management, public transport, urban management, road constructions and maintenance. Well, in reality, the administration in capital city couldn’t even run a solid waste management plant and sending its daily waste to Chandigarh for treatment or is being piled up on landfills.

The government claims that Himachal Pradesh would utilize the global experience of Korea and World Bank for the solutions in areas like solid waste management, public transport, urban management, road constructions and maintenances etc.

Now, in this workshop, The Urban Development, Housing and Town and Country Planning Minister Sudhir Sharma was luring public by assuring assistance from Korea in achieving green and inclusive development. The minister claims that the State Government would work on the analogy of Korean model for developing Shimla, Dharamshala city as a smart cities and streamlining the traffic problems of the Shimla city.

To the World Bank and the Development Policy Loan of the World Bank, state claims implementation of critical structural and administrative reforms necessary to achieve rapid inclusive economic growth and development.

He went on boasting that Himachal Pradesh had surpassed various other States of the country in many sectors because of good co-ordination and commitment of the administrative machinery and the State leadership. For the government, the State had emerged as one of the States with the best human development outcomes.

In reality, the government departments of Himachal are highly callous toward their duty. For instance, the HP Pollution Control Board, HP Traffic Police, and RTO claim that they are not responsible for checking vehicular pollution. Most of the buses of Himachal Pradesh Road Corporation are visibly polluting due to lack of maintenance.

Recently, government had invited people to come forward to get their illegal structures legalize by paying a nominal fee. The decision sounds absurd considering the fact that the government never bothered to check illegal construction in first place. When the condition went out of control, the government decided to legalize them. This will benefit contactors and politicians who have erected illegal structure by bypassing the rules and regulations.
But, in the workshop, the government claimed that the State’s top priority is to check haphazard and unplanned growth of these areas and to provide best infrastructural and public services like housing, sanitation, disposal of solid wastes, transport, water, health and education etc.

Rationing of water in Shimla, deadly jaundice outbreak in Shimla, and the recovery of Yug Gupta’s remains from IPH water tank in Shimla aptly demonstrated how committed the State government is about providing clean and sufficient water to public.

The government further patted its back for initiative towards green growth, the state government had imposed complete ban on green felling, use of polythene, plastic bags, cups and plates besides smoking in public places. Himachal was the first State in the country to initiate green forest accounting.

In reality, the plastic is still used in some places of Himachal, illegal tree felling is regular, and littering is only getting worse in the State. In capital, the administration doesn’t have provided basic facilities like toilets and dustbins at some of the most crowded bus stops and people urinate in open and dispose of waste in open.

The ministers and other government representatives present in the workshop repeated same old statements about exchange of knowledge through workshop to find effective solutions in various issues the State was grappling with.

Concerned departments, which aren’t at all concerned about sustainability or preservation of ecology, would learn about green technologies and make appropriate adjustments in the development policies, claims government.

The Korean experience of application of ICT interventions would further contribute to achieve better standards of administrative efficiency, transparency and citizen delivery, said the government as part of impressive press note.
While the government and local bodies are still practicing open burning of daily garbage and vehicular pollution is going completely unchecked, the ministers claimed that the State was also looking forward in the areas of use of green construction technology in road sector, use of ICT applications to achieve green growth and the concept of green smart city development with the participation of citizens.

Additional Chief Secretary, Finance Dr. Shrikant Baldi believes that Himachal Pradesh had done remarkable job in green growth initiative and by the end of year 2020, the State would achieve the carbon neutrality target.

The conclusion is that the State is doing excellent job in files and papers and is likely to continue the same trend with dedication. Therefore, it is very important for public to beware of such statements that appear in newspapers and try to compare declaration of achievements by the government and reality.

Photo: The News Himachal

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Environment

Watch: An interesting case of leopard sighting in Shimla’s Dhanda locality

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Shimla: People of Dhanda, a sort of suburb near the Totu in Shimla city, on Saturday found a leopard roaming around in their neighborhood in broad daylight. Leopard sightings in Himachal Pradesh are not unusual and Shimla is no exception. After all Himachal has 65 percent forest cover, as per official statistics.

However, this leopard was behaving like a stray dog that is used to living among humans. The big cat was not responding to the noises made by the people to scare off the animal.

The animal was not aggressive or afraid.

Watch: An interesting case of leopard sighting in Shimla’s Dhanda locality

The leopard casually walked onto an under-construction floor of a residential building.

Luckily, the people did not harm the cat at all. In other parts of India, animals like leopard pay with their lives for straying into a human habitat. The people beat them to death with sticks and stone pelting.

But here, in Shimla, people informed the forest department about it, which was the right thing to do. Meanwhile, they just tried to scare it off so that it returns to the jungle. The people were discussing why the animal was behaving in an unusual way.

The people deserve appreciation for it because in most cases these animals revert as a defense to any sort of assaults by humans. 

A resident posted some pictures and two videos of the incident. One of the video showed the animal roaming inside the residential locality. The other one showed the forest officials carrying the leopard on a stretcher and the crowd including kids following them.

They speculated it might have escaped from a zoo, which is why it was accustomed to human presence.

They spotted some wound on leopard’s body and assumed that perhaps the cat was injured.

Watch: An interesting case of leopard sighting in Shimla’s Dhanda locality

The wildlife wing of the forest department arrived at the scene (this time with tranquilizer guns) and spotted the leopard in nearby bushes.

The animal was carried to the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre situated in Tutikandi. It was identified as a seven-months-old female. It is not clear how it happened to stray into the locality. 

The matter also pertains to the critical issue of man and animal conflict due to depletion of natural habitat. HW will try to get hold of the vet on Monday for a follow up.

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Pollution killed 25 lakh people in India in one year – highest in the world: Report

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air pollution deaths in India

Applying similar legislation and regulation from high-income countries to low- and middle-income countries could help to improve and protect health as countries develop.

While the leaders of the ruling political party are trying to politicize the firecracker ban imposed in Delhi by the Supreme Court, India has achieved another milestone – highest number of deaths due to various kinds of pollutions.

The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health released its report on October 19. As per the report, air pollution is the biggest killer of all.

The report said out of total 6.5 million (65 lakhs) deaths reported worldwide, 28% occurred only in India. Air pollution mainly resulted in diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and COPD.

Almost all (92%) pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

The findings of the say that in 2015, pollution killed about 2.5 million (25 lakhs) people. China reported the second highest number of deaths at 1.8 million (18 lakhs) during the same year.

Pollution Deaths in India

Info: Global Alliance on Health and Pollution

It implies that air pollution kills doubt the number of people killed by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

The next largest risk factor was water pollution the caused gastrointestinal diseases and parasitic infections.Workplace pollution including exposure to toxins and pneumoconiosis in coal workers, bladder cancer in dye workers, and asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers in workers exposed to asbestos.

Finally, lead pollution resulted from high blood pressure, renal failure, and cardiovascular disease caused by lead in adults.

As per the report, human activities, including industrialisation, urbanisation, and globalisation, are all drivers of pollution.

Types of pollution associated with industrial development, such as ambient air pollution (including ozone), chemical, occupational pollution and soil pollution, have increased from 4.3 million (9.2%) in 1990 to 5.5 million (10.2%) in 2015 as countries reach higher levels of development.

The greatest impacts occured in countries that are currently undergoing rapid development and industrialisation – with pollution responsible for up to one in four deaths in the most severely affected countries (such as in India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Kenya).

As countries develop and industrialise, the type of pollution and the related health problems they face change.

For example, water pollution and household air pollution are more common in early stages of industrial development, causing higher rates of pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases in low- and middle-income countries.

Economic costs of pollution

The costs of pollution-related death and disease are also highly concentrated in developing regions imposing vast costs on national budgets – equivalent to around 1.3% GDP in low-income countries, compared to around 0.5% GDP in high-income countries, and 0.13% GDP globally. Healthcare spending on pollution-related diseases also disproportionately affects lower income countries – accounting for an estimated 7% of health spending in middle-income countries each year, and 1.7% annual spend in high-income countries.

Welfare losses due to deaths and disease from pollution equate to US$4.6 trillion each year (equivalent to 6.2% of global economic output). Proportionately, low-income countries pay 8.3% of their gross national income to pollution-related death and disease, while high-income countries pay 4.5%.

Environmental Injustice

The environmental injustice often violates these people’s human rights.

Pollution, poverty, poor health, and social injustice are deeply intertwined. Pollution and related diseases most often affect the world’s poor and powerless, and victims are often the vulnerable and the voiceless. As a result, pollution threatens fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, health, wellbeing, safe work, as well as protections of children and the most vulnerable

Says Commission author Karti Sandilya, Pure Earth, USA.

In order to tackle pollution, we must prioritise it as an issue that affects us all, integrating it into health planning, and increasing funding to allow more research into pollution, such as monitoring pollution and its effects, and developing ways to control pollution,

says Commission co-lead, Richard Fuller, Pure Earth, USA.

Pollution can be eliminated, and pollution prevention can be highly cost-effective – helping to improve health and extend lifespan, while boosting the economy. This has been seen in high-income and some middle-income countries where legislation has helped to curb the most flagrant forms of pollution, and has led to cleaner air and water, lower blood lead concentrations, removal of hazardous waste sites, and less polluted and more liveable cities, the report further said.

The report suggest that pollution is not the inevitable consequence of economic development, and applying similar legislation and regulation from high-income countries to low- and middle-income countries could help to improve and protect health as countries develop.

Top Photo: Hindustan Times

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HP Polls 2017: EC directs parties to use eco-friendly & biodegradable material for publicity

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eco-friendly campaing material in Indian elections

Shimla: With the announcement of the polling and counting date for the General Elections to the Legislative Assembly of Himachal Pradesh would come an environmental menace – waste of publicity material left by party workers during campaigning period. Use of flex boards would be an suitable example.

Considering the fact that the public, administration, and the politicians are least concerned about environmental or visual pollution, it was necessary that the Election Commission interfere here.

In its notification issued regarding the schedule for the elections, the Election Commission of India has included separate direction to all the political parties, contesting candidates and their authorized agents etc. to desist from utilizing environmentally hazardous materials like plastics, polythene etc for the preparation and usage election-related publicity materials.

The EC has directed them to use eco-friendly and bio-degradable substances for preparing election campaign or publicity material.

The EC has directed the DEOs and ROs to emphasize the importance of environment protection and preservation during the meetings with the political parties and contesting candidates. They were also asked to ensure that the the political parties adhere to the instructions of the Commission with regard to the usage of non-eco-friendly materials.

The Commission has directed all the CEOs to instruct all the political parties in their respective states regarding the usage of eco-friendly and biodegradable materials.

The concern of the Commission about the long-term deleterious impact of materials like plastics, polythene etc on the life-giving and life-sustaining environment is worth appreciable provided it is actually followed.

The political parties and their leaders bear the moral and ethical duty of passing instruction to their party-workers to adhere to the EC directions and help keep Himachal clean.

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