Electricity wasted in Mumbai as energy supply is cut off for hours in towns


The mass scale ugly, blinding illumination of trees all over Mumbai is a terrible waste of energy when many parts of the state are suffering from load shedding. And the price is paid by villagers who lose their land and suffer pollution because of the insensitively built power stations as in Dahanu.

One realised this at a largely attended meeting of these victims and activists from different parts of the coastal Konkan belt on environment day. It was organised by several civil society and environment groups.

We would not need to build so many power stations if only we judiciously use electricity, stop wasting it. Fortunately the media has taken up the issue of the nuisance of the new light pollution but it does not seem to have had much effect on the government. And what a waste of labour and time to wind electric wires around thousands of trees.

It is surprising motorists are not complaining and the traffic police are not acting because these lights are definitely a distraction for motorists , a traffic hazard and health and it is not realised that the craze for LED lights is bad for the eyes and environment.

The so called development projects are built mainly for the benefit of the rich and speculators who have built large tracts of land in the neighbouring districts of Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri. Farmers are deprived of land. We don’t realise that in the process we will be losing a huge green cover in our hinterland and this will impact everyone in Mumbai as well including the rich.

Was glad to meet several environmentalists at the June 5 meeting including Sumaira Abdulali who sat through the two hour proceedings listening to the spirited speeches in Marathi. As a report in Times of India shows she continues her long battle againt the sand mafia in Raigad district and noise pollution everywhere.

An activist from the fishing community in the Dahanu area, Vaibhav Vaze, made an interesting point when I met him after the meeting. He said the government talks of atma nirbhar, self reliance, but we are already self reliant, we ceate jobs on our own, doing fishing, farming, earn our livelihoods without government help. And the government wants to deprive us of our livelihood. False claims are made about providing large scale employment with the so called development projects. Actually in the process, the authorities are depriving people of jobs apart from wrecking the green environment.

Activists peacefully protesting against the projects are arrested, humiliated, threatened, treated like criminals. Among the speakers at the June 5 meeting held at Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh was Satyajit Chavan, who has been barred from entering Ratnagiri district because of his protests against the petrochemical complex.

The government does not realise that all these big projects not only threaten people’s lives, they violate the government’s own commitment to battle climate change. But it succumbs to pressure from those who think only of profit and more profit, whatever the cost to the people, their land, their rivers, their farms, and the hills and forests around them.

The meeting demanded immediate halt to environmentally destructive projects, withdrawal of FIRs against activists anti people laws. It also sought audit of the projects and demanded that gram sabhas, local people be consulted.

Among the speakers were Ulka Mahajan, a leader of many a struggles who did a lot to bring together the victims and activists, Amrita Bhattacharjee, Brian Lobo and Sanjay Thakur.

There is something seriously wrong with planners of big projects across time and ideology. Soviet Jew architect Iofan had planned a grand palace of Soviets during the Stalin era but it was given up due to the war. Had Iofan’s proposal been constructed, the Palace of the Soviets would have used “as much electricity as is required for the whole of Moscow,” an engineering consultant on the project said. André Gide, a lapsed French communist, commented: “The Russian worker will know why he starves in front of the 415m-high monument crowned by a statue of Lenin in stainless steel.” The Palace of the Soviets was the most important commission of Iofan’s life, but it remained on paper after World War II brought construction in Moscow to a halt. Later, its site would be repurposed by Khrushchev to build the world’s largest open-air swimming pool, among other contentious uses after the Soviet Union’s collapse.

The Mumbai administration is extremely irresponsible in energy use. Street lights are switched on very early in the evening when the Sun is shining brightly. Municipal parks now have such blinding light that it is impossible to sit there both because of the intensity of the brightness and the heat they emit.

Also Mumbai wastes so much water while several municipal towns thirst for water, they get water supply just one day in a week. And Mumbai residents getting water 24 hours a day are alarmed even when once in a while the pressure is low.

Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist and author of a book on public transport


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