S P Mishra City Commissioner, Kanpur
S P Mishra currently holds the post of City Commissioner in Kanpur and is the administrative head of Kanpur Municipal Corporation. Mr Mishra did his schooling from Azamgarh, a district in Eastern UP where he was born. He did his graduation and post graduation from Allahabad University. He qualified for Provincial Civil Services in the year 1980. He has served in various capacities as a bureaucrat in various districts of Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Mishra talked to Mohd. Owais on various issues pertaining to pollution of Kanpur and river Ganga.

What do you think about man-nature relationship? Any change in peoples' perception about the nature and natural resources over the years.

Man is the product of nature and therefore, he should stay in harmony with nature. He should not make any effort to destroy the peace of nature and should follow the dictates of nature. Yes! The perception of man has totally changed owing to various factors like industrialization, population growth and change in attitude towards nature. Man has become self-centered and is abusing the nature and the natural resources for his own interests. This has resulted into massive destruction of the nature.

Now we are realizing these problems. There is a discernible positive change in peoples' perception towards nature. Nature is giving suitable strictures to human beings. Nature is a very watchful enemy and it never lets any mistake go unpunished. We're forced to learn from these punishments of nature. Nature will teach us to respect it. I can see the positive changes happening.

How do you rate Kanpur in terms of environmental quality?

Very polluted. Outsiders as well as the inhabitants of Kanpur think that Kanpur is most polluted town in Uttar Pradesh. It has major problems of garbage disposal, traffic congestion and pollution. The industrial character of the town is responsible for its present state of decadence.

How do you prioritize top five problems of Kanpur city? Any plan to solve them?

1. Unemployment: Closure of textile and other mills have lead to heavy unemployment in the town. 15,000 odd families are the victims. This has added to the criminalisation of the society and created law and order problem in the town. Gainful employment to these families is the only answer. This can be achieved either by reviving the industries or creating new ones.

2. Traffic congestion: Most of the roads are encroached and congested. The average speed of the vehicles is 17 km/hour. The city needs at- least 5-6 over-bridges. Good quality buses are required as means of public transport. Encroachments must be removed on priority basis.

3. Filth and garbage: Kanpur is the dirtiest town in Uttar Pradesh and it needs special attention towards its problem of garbage disposal. The garbage disposal system needs up-gradation. Garbage to energy project is in the pipeline. A scientific landfill site is proposed to deal with the toxic tannery sludge. Use of polybags needs to be discouraged. The timings and the places for the garbage disposal should be fixed. People should come forward to tackle these problems.

4. Pollution: Kanpur is a highly polluted town. The ambient air quality is very bad. The drinking water sources are contaminated. Noise levels are also high. CNG will be introduced soon to address the problem of air pollution. GAP is in progress to address the problem of Ganga pollution. A lot more needs to be done.

5. Law and order: Law and order situation is not satisfactory. It seems as if Kanpur has become unmanageable.

How do you perceive Ganga? What do you think about Ganga in Kanpur? Would you take a dip in and aachman (mouthful) of Ganga waters?

Ganga is associated with our existence. We're dependent on Ganga for our water needs. It carries a religious importance for us. Kanpur stretch of Ganga is highly polluted. The raw water of Ganga is not fit for human use. I won't take a dip in Ganga waters of Kanpur. I took the last dip in 1983 at Sangam.

What factors are responsible for the pathos of Ganga?

Polluting social practices, excessive use and misuse of Ganga waters, addition of hazardous chemicals by the industries, domestic sewage, and poaching of turtles and fish are responsible for the pathos of Ganga.

Are you satisfied with the efforts being made to restore Ganga?

Yes, I'm satisfied with the efforts being made under Ganga Action Plan by the government. These are the only ways to make Ganga pollution free. Ganga Action Plan needs improvement. Tapping of drains is not proper and there are other problems also which need to be addressed. It's an ongoing process. People should be made aware about the pollution and they should feel more concerned about the river. Religious leaders should be roped in for educating the masses. They can play a key role in controlling the polluting social practices like dead body dumping in the river.

Can Ganga ever be restored to its pristine purity and beauty?

Though it's difficult but situation can definitely be improved. It's not possible to restore Ganga to its pre-disturbance state but it canbe made pollution free and healthier in terms of its ecology and resources.

Any appeal /message to the masses.

Be the preserver of nature. Consume less. Stop using the polybags.

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