Post Puja, Environment and the Law

Durga Lifting from Ganga

One of the greatest physicists that the world has ever witnessed was Sir Issac Newton. Many of us have a presumption that the theories established by this genius  are applicable only in the world of physics, but the truth is, his laws even have a major impact on the functioning of the society we reside on.

Newton during his lifetime,established many theories, and out of all of them, ‘Newton’s Laws of Motion’, are known to almost one and all. And it was Newton who said, “Every action has an equaland opposite reaction.’’ In fact, the above mentioned particular theory has already been applied by thousands, while solving physics equations, but in the modern era, this theory has once again been in the talk, this time in terms of the causal effect of human activities upon the environment, degrading it to a great extent. And that escalating rate of degradation is now imposing life threatening impact upon human beings and other species.

The matter of the fact is that if we carefully analyze, we would notice that the menace of environmental pollution has been grabbing the headlines, since many years, but the sad news is that there has not been any significant improvement in the process of revamping the environment, thus creating a major imbalance.

However, stepping into the 21st century, some concerned citizens mindset have undergone a positive and a much needed change, as a result of which, they have now raised their concerns over preventing the environment from getting degraded further. And the government too has complied with it by implementing strict rules and regulations in order to protect the environment. In fact, if we speak of India, the Government of India’s recent decree to ban use of single-use plastic products has indeed come as a welcoming step. However, we need to take into our consideration the probability of certain scenes that might appear in front of us in the upcoming weeks.

The nation of India, is currently celebrating the spiritual and the festive season of autumn and autumn brings with it the celebration of Durga Puja, which is organized with great enthusiasm mainly in the states of West Bengal and Assam. Durga Puja though is an emotion for many Bengali and Assamese people, but the activities done by the burgess during Durga Puja, are equally detrimental to the process of environment protection.

The garbage that gets accumulated in and around the Puja Pandals, which includes plastic products as well, are hardly disposed of properly by the organizing committee, and that means the waste products stay there untouched most of the time, thus polluting that particular place in due course of time. Therefore, these scenes directly reflect the fact that a section of people put a blind eye to the legislations passed by the government to protect the environment, and this particular attitude of that section of people, indeed irritates the solicitous denizens.

Nevertheless, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) has planned to take some exemplary steps in this regard, in order to keep the environment neat, clean and hygienic, especially after the Puja ends. The GMC has thought of engaging dumpers, JCBs, auto tippers etc along with 12 flying squads, which would be deployed across the city from 6 am to 10 pm, to ensure that cleanliness is maintained. Hence, though these steps give a ray of hope, but the success or the failure of GMC and the government as a whole, in their endeavour to maintain the hygienic conditions of the environment, would directly get revealed once the post Puja pictures of different locations get viral over the mass media.

Furthermore, another aspect that cannot be ignored at all is the relation of water pollution with DurgaPuja. The artificially coloured  idols of the Goddesses that are directly immersed in the rivers along with other wastes including plastics, directly paints the sad picture of water pollution. And even after the Government’s decision to ban single-use plastic products, if plastics, bottles and polythene float over the surface of the rivers, especially after the immersion process, then the government should indeed be stricter in its approach of completely banning single-use plastic products. Not to forget the fact that the post Puja scenes would also throw a light on the levels of civic sense within humans.

Moreover, in a recent survey conducted by Swachh Surveksan, Guwhati has been placed in 303rd position out of the 425 cleanest cities of the nation, while Dibrugarh and Silchar were placed on 415th position and 423rd position respectively. So this data proves that our cities are filthy and unhealthy, which of course is the result of immoral human activities. Moreover, according to another data(published by Gplus),revealed thatGuwhati itself generated 500 tonnes of garbage each day, but during DurgaPuja celebrations, over 100 tonnes of extra garbage on an average get generated each day. Therefore,if these are not properly disposed of, then we can simply imagine the aftermath.

However the current scenario demands an immediate change.The well known fact is that the Government of India over the years has passed many laws to protect the environment. Acts like The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, The Environment Protection Act 1986 etc have already been passed, but somewhere down the line, these Acts havenot only failed to make people follow the rules and regulations, but also to inculcate within them a bit of civic sense. Therefore it becomes necessary for the government to be strict in this regard, and hence the authorities should directly impose fine or penalties or other prescribed punishment upon those, who violate the provisions of these acts. Further it also becomes essential for the government to also amend these Acts from time to time, in order to cope up with the needs and necessities.

Nevertheless, Durga Puja is still an emotion for many. However, people should also try to understand the fact that DurgaPuja can only be celebrated if the environment remains suitable for humans to reside on. In fact, for the environment to survive, people must not destroy it at any cost, and thus in the process, they should also give due importance to the laws set by the government. Therefore a combination of laws and regulations along with the shift to the concept of ‘sustainable development’ can work wonders in the process of protection of the environment.

Bishaldeep Kakati is a political commentator




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