“This time the creator of the universe does not want us to celebrate this event because He knows our diabolic nature. On one hand, we are deteriorating the natural fabric of the environment by our odd actions, and on the other hand, we are celebrating such events for the sake of fame”.
BY HAROON RASHID BHAT
Reimagine. Recreate. Restore. Together, these form the theme of World Environment Day 2021 on 5 June. This was incorporated in 1974 by the UN to focus the attention of investors, businesses, governments, and communities on the increasingly urgent need to restore the Earth’s ecosystems. On this particular day, awareness programs are organized worldwide by the concerned governments and NGOs. But, today the situation is quite different, we are not able to celebrate this event. There are no face-to-face debates or lectures or seminars possible this year. The reason is quite evident that is the prevailing situation that occurred due to COVID- 19.
“This time the creator of the universe does not want us to celebrate this event because He knows our diabolic nature. On one hand, we are deteriorating the natural fabric of the environment by our odd actions, and on the other hand, we are celebrating such events for the sake of fame”. The fact of the matter is that such events are losing relevance because of our irresponsible and selfish attitude, the activities of such events are restricted up to the photo shows. Let me share my crude experience with you. Two years before, I got an opportunity to attend the program organized by an NGO in a local school. The theme was of the program was “Use of polyethylene and its harmful effects on the environment”. I got astonished to see the when the chief guest invited for that particular event came with a big polyethylene bag and during the break, each participant was served with Lipton tea in a disposal cup made of polypropylene, the plastic water bottles were placed before the dice table and when I came out to attend my phone call during the program, the scene that shocked me more was when I saw, the same motor car which was used by chief guest for his arrival to attend the celebration was washed by his driver with tap water on the roadside without caring about the safety of the road. When that particular program concluded, the school compound was full of plastic and other waste. This is how we celebrate such events!
I am not against such events, but the matter of concern is that we preach much on any issues, but our actions contradict our theory. Let us take the lessons from the past how our forefathers ensure the sustenance of natural resources. During my childhood days, I remember how those great people voluntarily clean the local springs, streams. Sitting on the banks of these water bodies discussing day-to-day matters, praising nature, those God-fearing people purified their bodies in the nearby stream or canal before entering into the masjid or the temple or the Gurdwaras for prayer. During the hottest days of summer, young, old, kids refresh themselves by taking a dip into these water bodies. We never fetch water from our houses when attending our field works. Those freshwater bodies which unfortunately are not fresh right now quenched our thirst without asking about our social or religious background. Such scenes were very common in the village. Gull Kak, the boatman by profession while visiting Hazratbal Shrine on this special occasions used to give special instructions to passengers before they boarded on his boat; 1) Not to spite into the Dal- lake. 2) Not to throw any harmful, or wasteful material into the water. Those people were illiterate or semi-literate people but their love towards the natural environment was exemplary. They were sincere in their approach. They obey laws, they acted upon the advice given by their elders but unfortunately, our society has more preachers than followers. Today the Govt. established a separate authority (LAWDA) to ensure its sustainability, beauty, and glory, but Alas! Nothing concrete has been so far. The reason is obvious that is- we have lost our moral ground. Neither the state nor the people are sincere in their approach. Our attitude towards nature remains hostile. Even the attitude of the concerned government departments remains hostile towards the natural environment. The construction agency narrow down the width of flowing water bodies, erect concrete establishment around springs, unnecessary culverts are constructed on streams or water canals, mountains are razed unto the ground, forests are vandalized, permissions are granted in favor of industrialists or individuals for the construction of business establishments or residential houses without taking into the considerations environmental planning, etc. All these actions are continuously happing day and night in the name of development. If want to have a sustainable environment we have to change this diabolic nature otherwise it will be too late.
Haroon Rashid Bhat is a teacher by profession.