Deputy Mayor of Kanpur Chetana Sharma shares
her views on Ganga pollution with Eco Friends. She makes no bones
about the fact that neither the administration nor the government
has taken any initiative to contain the pollution in river Ganga.
Excerpts from an interview:
were born and have been brought up in Kanpur. What changes have
you witnessed in the Kanpur environment over the years?
Sharma: A lot. Most of it being negative. In 1972 when
we shifted to Kidwai Nagar, the ambience was very pure and the
traffic movement was very smooth. I used to reach my school/ college
situated at Birhana Road in about 15 minutes. Today, it takes
more than one and a half hour to reach the same place. Such is
the traffic congestion. There were very few buildings and there
was Sanjay Van which was extremely green. But now, all that has
must have seen Ganga in Kanpur from very close quarters during
Sharma: Ganga was very beautiful. It was very clean and
we used to take bath in Ganga. We also used to go to Bithoor to
feed the fish.
you got accustomed to living in the most polluted city in India?
Sharma: No, not at all. To reduce pollution, we should
formulate pollution-abatement plans. But it is not enough to formulate
plans until and unless the administration and the government takes
interest in implementing them.
What about public participation?
Sharma: That’s also equally important. I mean,
all the three -- the administration, the government and the people
– will have to join hands to solve the problem of Ganga
pollution or any other environmental problem that the city faces.
long have you been in the Kanpur Nagar Nigam?
Sharma: Around eight years.
steps have you taken to make Kanpur’s environment better?
Sharma: In Ward 45 (Kidwai Nagar), I have been instrumental
in changing the face of parks which had been neglected and where
pigs were in plenty. Now these parks provide a green lung to the
area. Efforts are also on to conserve Sanjay Van. I have spoken
to the Forest Minister and he has assured us that he is going
to help us in the conservation work.
do most government schemes to tackle environmental pollution fail?
Sharma: No government can implement a scheme effectively
if there is lack of awareness. The public and the administration
has to work together with the government to bring about success
of a plan. The NGOs have a big role to play in making the public
aware. Eco Friends has been doing that and I really appreciate
its endeavours. However, I also feel that we need a huge budget
to tackle the city pollution. Let’s take for instance the
Ganga pollution. Many drains are directly falling into Ganga.
We must devise a plan by which the wastewater in these drains
is first treated and then allowed into the river. Also, the tannery
effluent is a major cause of concern. The tannery waste is finding
its way into the Ganga.
the administration taking enough initiative to close down the
polluting leather-making units?
Sharma: Everybody knows how efficient the administration
is. The tannery units have installed treatment effluent plant
but they do not run it. Clearly, there is some manipulation that
the tannery owners are resorting to. The tanneries continue to
empty their waste and foul the river. Also, there are illegal
colonies that have come up on the edges of the Ganga. There should
be green belt in place of these colonies.
tannery waste water is also being directed to the downstream villages.
Sharma: Yes, I recently visited these villages. The villagers
are suffering from skin problems. Some of them have become almost
handicapped. A few can not walk. Their eyesight has also been
such a backdrop, do you think that the irrigation tax that is
being levied on these villagers justified?
Sharma: No way. They should stop charging tax from the
hapless villagers immediately.
do you envisage a plan for Ganga that can bring back its lost
Sharma: First and foremost, the drains that carry domestic
sewage and tannery waste and fall into the Ganga have to be stopped.
Recently, there has been a plan to divert the drains towards Pandu
river, which is a tributary of Ganga. But such a plan is preposterous.
Ultimately, it comes back to square one because you are polluting
a water body which will meet Ganga downstream.
are your impressions on the Ganga Barrage?
Sharma: I keep reading about it in the newspapers. It
is being hoped that the Barrage will be ready by October 2003.
But I have doubts that it would.
do you have to say about the dumping of worship materials and
dead bodies in river Ganga?
Sharma: There are so many temples in the city and these
generate a lot of worhip material. If we collect all the flowers
and phoolmalaen (garlands of flowers) and put them in a pit, it
will turn into good quality manure. As far as floating of dead
bodies is concerned, it should be completely banned. The dead
body dumping is done on religious grounds but we should make the
people understand that these bodies get decayed and are a feast
for the dogs and other animals.
would you like to appeal to the people?
Sharma: Don’t throw your garbage and waste into
Ganga. Please save it. There is still hope.