Political parties have declared their election manifestoes, which lack any solid action plan on real issues and no clear vision is being seen. None of the political parties has even shown any concern for the future of environment and environmental protection. Rather shamefully, even if these issues get a place in the election manifestos, the parties forget them after coming to power. The Election Commission should form strict laws for enforcement of the promises made in the Election Manifestoes .
Unlike General Elections of 2014, during Lok Sabha election 2019, no promises are being made for improving the health of mother Ganga, because in the name of Ganga, now votes can’t be secured. The real issues of Ganga are not there in any manifesto.
The ruling party as well as the Opposition parties are silent on the death of three saints who were conducting satyagraha (non violent resistance) for cleanliness and continuity of river Ganga. Besides, today one more saint is missing, another saint is on fast until death for last 168 days. Nobody is listening to his pleas, not even the opposition.
As in earlier election they had sought votes in the name of Ganga, but after gaining power, forgot those promises. The river Ganga which symbolizes the faith of crores of people of India, is more polluted today. This fact has been revealed in National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) report.
It is the need of the hour to prepare strict laws for environment protection and establishing an independent and empowered agency for its effective implementation. A policy should also be prepared for conservation of bio diversity of Himalayan range and Western Ghats and people residing there should be the part of that policy so that their livelihood resources could be conserved. Now in our villages, the youth are without any work, unemployment has increased manifold, and agriculture is in peril. The farmers are not getting appropriate income even after working very hard. Debts have made their lives more miserable.
Only a few families are dominating the economic system of India. Poverty is increasing because of it. This poverty will consistently increase as a few industrial houses will occupy all the shared natural resources like mountains, seas, rivers, forests and minerals.
The end result is that a large part of our country is facing scarcity of water, agriculture and becoming victims of unemployment, powerlessness and illnesses. Water is cutting the fertile soil and is washed away to seas, resulting in increase in floods and droughts.
Only those candidates who are respectful to water, women and rivers, and who fight for cleanliness and continuity of Ganga, and follow the path of truth and non violence, should ask for votes from the people of India. We also will follow these principles while casting our votes.
A survey by Association of Democratic Reforms, which was established in 1999 by a group of professors from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad and has been working on electoral reforms, has shown that drinking water crisis is amongst the three most important problems in the country. In near future, water crisis will be more acute. The way, forests are being destroyed, and due to illegal mining, rivers, mountains and forests are being destroyed, the average temperatures is increasing, all are leading to increase in new and different diseases. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, various kinds of water crisis is being witnessed, even the hilly states are facing scarcity of water.
Water crisis is increasing in almost 16 states. Almost 90% of the rivers in the country are either dried or having flow of water during the monsoons only. The condition of major rivers is also deteriorating day by day.
The states like Maharashtra, where most number of dams have been constructed after independence, is facing acute water crisis today. All the five rivers in Mumbai- Mithi, Dahisar, Pahunsar, Ullass, Baldhuni and other small rivers have become like drains.
Among the 36 districts of Maharashtra, 26 districts have been declared as drought affected while the condition in other districts is also very miserable. Many districts in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttrakhand are also drought affected. As per Water Resource Ministry of Indian Government, in coming time, more than 15 states will be drought affected. At the same time, Patna, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, all are flood prone today. At Kedarnath, Alaknanda is being considered as the source of income only. At Jammu, the flood in Jhelum has threatened us all. Ganga, the first identity of Kashi, the capital of knowledge, has turned into sewage carrier today.
India always had a rich culture of ponds, and an independent unit needs to be formed for protection of ponds which should be accountable for restoration and conservation of ponds. Rejuvenation of ponds and lakes should be made and new water conservation structures should be constructed.The waste and sewage falling in the rivers should be stopped totally, dense tree plantation should be done in the regions at the banks of the rivers, the livelihood options of fishermen community should be protected, strict and stringent laws should be made to stop illegal mining at the basins of rivers and for that river basin organizations should be formed.
Our country had always been a world leader who is respectful to water, women and rivers. For the formation of self reliant and prosperous nation, we should overlook lustful developmental slogans and should elect a government that is respectful to water, women and rivers for rejuvenation of natural resources.
If we don’t wish to be deceived in the 2019 elections, we should know the past history of the candidates; we should know their honesty and transparency. Without knowing the past, future can’t be decided. So this time we should elect candidates carefully. If a good and honest candidate even from any political party gets elected, he can stop bad things and can initiate reforms. We should elect those who respect humanity and nature equally. We should opt for those who follow non violent and truthful ways.
*The writer is a renowned water conservationist and winner of Magsaysay Award and Stockholm Water Prize