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Dr. Naim Hamid is essentially a social worker who jumps into humanitarian work whenever there is a need. A veteran Kanpurite, Dr Hamid has opened three charitable hospitals in an area which is densely populated by the poor. Ex-President of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Dr Hamid is currently the president of Nursing Home Associations of Kanpur. He did his MBBS in 1964 from Agra Medical College and MS in 1968.

In an interview with EcoFriends, Dr. Naim Hamid talked about the deteriorating condition of Kanpur and expressed his concern about the same.

What marked difference do you see in the city environment since you were a child?

Dr Hamid: In my childhood, the place where you see Naveen market and Som Dutt Plaza had bungalows and the whole stretch had old trees with huge canopy. There was a reputed government high school near Naveen Market (in which Motilal Nehru once studied) from where I did my education. There were three playing grounds in the school campus and the annual district sports tournament used to be held there. Today, these fields have been turned into buildings. Now the name of that school has also been changed too. The school, though operational, looks worse than a graveyard due to utter neglect.

Over the years, there has been a large-scale felling of trees in Kanpur. Apart from Naveen Market, trees have been hacked in Kakadev and the adjoining areas to accommodate the increasing population. Roads were also very peaceful in those days. Today, traffic has become nightmarish. There was no craze of car in our days. I have seen people going to long distances on their bicycles or walking with a stick in their hand. Now, vehicles have multiplied and there is no civic sense let alone road etiquette. In yester years, people were civilised and less agressive. Today, even a person who is at fault, does not say sorry. Rather he picks up a fight and tries to right the wrong.

People have stopped migrating and hence, the solid waste generated has also escalated. In the absence of any proper waste disposal system, garbage is dumped. Even in posh areas in Kanpur such as Nayaganj, Collectorganj and Karachi Khana, people throw their waste in the open recklessly without caring about their neighbours. In the past, people had more common sense. They generated less waste and never piled it in their neighbourhood.

Who and what do you perceive should be blamed for the mess that Kanpur is in?

Dr Hamid: The sort of politics and democracy that is prevalent today is responsible for the sorry plight of Kanpur. The state of affairs is such that if a person is politically strong, he has the freehand to do anything. The public should also be blamed for this because it elects those who lack wisdom, who do not know what is right and what is wrong. In the past, Kanpur have had MLAs who were illiterate but they knew to differentiate between right and wrong.

Kanpur is the most polluted city in India. Your impressions.

Dr Hamid: The city has continued to excel in pollution. Recent reports say that the Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) is the highest in Kanpur. RSPM triggers asthma and other deadly diseases. Both the government and the public is responsible for this. It is a matter of shame that we live in such deplorable conditions.

How do you see Ganga today?

Dr Naim: It is more like a drain than a river. People have polluted it beyond recognition. Around 35 years back, Ganga in Kanpur had quite a movement and was broad enough. Today, the river has been spoiled by government apathy and the public too. They don’t understand that if they continue to foul it, nothing would be left for posterity.

It is not only the tannery and industrial waste which should be blamed for the present state of affairs but also the domestic sewage discharged into the river. The Kanpur Nagar Nigam should take stock of the situation.

What would you do to change things and improve the condition of the city?

Dr Hamid: First of all, I would appoint honest and dedicated officers for the developmental works of the city. I would not transfer them from the city frequently, as has become the practice. Due to frequent transfers today, officers don’t feel any personal attachment with the city. Besides this, a mass awareness drive like the one undertaken for polio eradication has to be launched. People have to be told that if you keep the city clean, you can keep diseases at bay.

Pollution can’t be stopped by merely writing ‘Green Kanpur’ on boards here and there, concrete down-to-earth actions are needed. Government and non-governmental organisations have to join hands in this direction. Institutions have to come forward on their own like our nursing homes association did. It was a voluntary decision of our association to safely dispose off the biomedical waste. Members of the association give the waste to Medical Pollution Control Committee (MPCC) near Panki. People have to take their own initiative. I will give you an example. Sixteen years back when I became the president of IMA, during an executive committee meeting while addressing the doctors I announced that I was quitting smoking. Since then, I haven’t touched a cigarette. I also directed the members to pass a resolution that smoking wouldn’t be allowed in any meeting from now on. It was complied with.

When you are no more, how would be like to be remembered as?

Dr Hamid: I would like to be remembered foremost as a human being and then as a social worker. I started my career with charity. I helped flood-affected and disease-infected people even in far-flung areas. Later on, I established myself. I still go for relief measures and distribute medicines free of cost to the affected and needy. Thirty four years back, when I passed MS, I was given lucrative offers from different quarters. But I refused them all as I wanted to stay in Kanpur and serve the poor. Today, I feel good about what I have done but am disheartened about the negative changes that have taken place in the society and in politics over the years.

What message would you like to give to the people of Kanpur?

Dr Hamid: To keep Kanpur clean. I would also like to tell them that they should take into consideration the problems of their fellow beings before they react.

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