It is said if you speak a lie repeatedly, it gets to be taken for a truth! This is exactly what is happening on the environment and climate change front where the authorities concerned, be it our central government or any state’s, are spewing myths on steps being taken to negate the ill effects of climate change, bring about ‘overnight’ increase in green cover, conserve natural and geographical heritage as well as to preserve the existing flora & fauna in reserved zones of various parts of the country! Without batting an eye, the leaders and officials in command take credit for efforts that are never made, or made half-heartedly and most of the times, only on paper. Then, some ‘truths’ are blown out of all proportions to capture limelight. I will cite an example here: Some time back, during a road expansion drive, an old tree that was coming in the way, was not felled but great effort was made to get special machines and bulldozers to get it relocated and transplanted at some distance. It was a good initiative at some considerable cost. So, it had to be utilised to the maximum. Immediately the media was invited, and the minister concerned promptly reached there to water the tree and get photos clicked. It was hyperbolically claimed that they did not let any harm come to any greenery and safeguarding green cover was their priority. Funnily though, only one tree had been relocated while many others were felled! No mention was made of that. The entire ‘operation’ met with such hue and cry that it seemed we had sent another satellite into space! However, whether the transplanted tree ultimately survived remained an evaded query.
This is one lone example. If we open our eyes and ears, we will be shocked at the tales being spun around us and us buying them too! Wherever flyovers were made, the promise was to leave a bed parallel to the entire stretch and plant proper trees, vines, and shrubs there. In reality, all that is being done is to eyewash by planting useless species life Champa that can easily take root from a stem but is worthless is sustaining biodiversity or aiding our biosphere. In some places, like the new flyover constructed from Hussainganj to Rajendra Nagar in Lucknow, you will be shocked to find dozens of guava saplings planted at hardly any distance between them in the land UNDER the flyover where no sunshine and no rain can ever reach them. No wonder they were all dying. Really! Guava saplings! Why were they not utilised along pavements and roadsides or parks and public spaces? How may saplings were wasted! But their numbers would have been added to the tally boasting of huge plantation drive in city, I am sure! Reducing carbon footprint in a lie and so is dedicated effort for a solution to man-animal conflict; busting of poachers’ gangs is exaggerated and so are stray sterilization drives; conserving bird/animal sanctuaries is a lie and so is cleaning of our rivers- all gestures are way overblown! What is actually happening is our environment is degrading not just because of our unawareness but because of political unwillingness to take strict corrective measures, including checking defaulters. But of course, how will we know; we are mesmerised by the not-so-little white lies that keep buzzing nonstop around us! -Saumya Misra