Environment and Biodiversity
General Studies 2
- Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
General Studies 3
- Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Degradation of lakes and the ecosystem imbalances
Increasing urbanisation and the resultant encroachment of lakes, wetlands are a big concern. The ecological imbalance that results of the same is unimaginable and irreversible.
The sight of a lake (in Bengaluru) on fire, with a massive of smoke that could be seen from afar, is a warning sign that urban environments are crashing under the weight of official indifference.
- If wetlands are the kidneys of the cities, as scientists like to describe them, Karnataka’s capital city has entered a phase of chronic failure.
- No longer the city of lakes and famed gardens, it has lost an estimated 79% of water bodies and 80% of its tree cover from the baseline year of 1973.
- Successive governments in the State have ignored the rampant encroachment of lake beds and catchment areas for commercial exploitation, and the pollution caused by sewage, industrial effluents and garbage, which contributed to the blaze on Bellandur lake.
- The neglect is deliberate, since some of the finest urban ecologists in the city have been warning that government inaction is turning Bengaluru into an unliveable mess.
It is time the State government took note of the several expert recommendations that have been made, including those of the Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science.
- The priority, clearly, is to end pollution outfalls into the water bodies, which will help revive them to an acceptable state of health.
- Identifying all surviving wetlands and demarcating them using digital and physical mapping will help communities monitor encroachments,
- Removal of land-grabbers
- Restoration of interconnecting channels is crucial to avoid future flooding events.
Loss of natural wetlands is an ongoing catastrophe in India.
- A decade ago, when the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History released a conservation atlas for all States using space applications –
- It reported the tragic fact that 38% of wetlands had already been lost nationally; and shockingly, in some districts only 12% survived.
- The Centre has since issued rules for conservation and management, and chosen 115 water bodies in 24 States for protection support, but this is obviously too little.
- Moreover, research studies show that the concentration of heavy metals in such sites is leading to bioaccumulation, thus entering the plants and animals that ultimately form part of people’s food.
- It should worry not just Bengaluru’s residents, for instance, that soil scientists have found higher levels of cadmium in green vegetables grown using water from Bellandur.
More broadly, the collapse of environmental management because of multiple, disjointed agencies achieving little collectively and legal protections remaining unimplemented pose a serious threat to public health.
Every city needs a single lake protection authority. India’s worsening air quality is now well documented, and most of its wetlands are severely polluted. Citizens must assert themselves to stop this perilous course.
Connecting the dots
- Urban sprawl and continuous encroachment has had it deleterious effect on the wetlands and hence the ecological balance. Critically analyse need to include ecology as a major component in urban planning. Identify the lacunae.
General Studies 1
- Role of women and women’s organization
General Studies 2
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Sterilization tragedy and after-effects
Women health is a concern across India. Especially reproductive health is a cause of concern and it is concern in remote areas and tribal regions. The sterilization tragedy in Chhattisgarh is still fresh in our minds.
Women in Chhattisgarh are now facing a new crisis. Over 27 months after 13 women died and 65 took ill at a State-run mass sterilisation camp, the State government has now discontinued all sterilisation services. The botched event focused attention on India’s dark history with family planning services.
Open camps, an important part of family planning services were discontinued as per the recommendations of a judicial commission headed by retired district judge Anita Jha.
- The state has complied with all the recommendations of the judicial commission. The doctor who performed [the] surgeries has been terminated and representatives of the pharmaceutical company which supplied [the] medicines are in jail.
- In compliance with the Supreme Court and the commission’s report, open camps have been discontinued in Chhattisgarh
As a result, women have turned to private clinics, if they can afford the ?8,000- ?10,000 bill.
- Government-run family planning services require going to neighboring Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.
- Instead of providing quality sterilisation services in the aftermath of so many deaths, the government [has] responded by discontinuing the services.
- Health facilities, including district hospitals [have] stopped sterilisations. Tribal areas have suffered the most.
- It is only two years later that some community health centres [CHC] and district hospitals have started the services (Sulakshana Nandi, national joint convenor, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, India-chapter of People’s Health Movement.)
No focus on men
It has been a long-standing demand of the health movement in India that open camps be discontinued.
- However, they have to be replaced by adequate facilities at CHCs and district hospitals. It needs to be accompanied by awareness on male contraceptive methods such as condom use and vasectomy.
- There is no stress or campaign on male contraception.
- We have put the entire burden of family planning on women, but it is equally a men’s issue.
- The government does not convince and cajole men into sterilisation the way it does for women.
- Since the discontinuation of open camps, sterilisation rates in Chhattisgarh for both men and women have dropped drastically.
- According to Chhattisgarh’s Health Department data, 1,35,407 were sterilised between April 2012 and March 2013.
- The number dropped to less than half in 2014-15, with only 52,082 availing the services. The number continues to be low.
The tragedy in Chhattisgarh was a wakeup call. It showed that there is high demand, especially among women, despite bad quality services. The government should have responded by providing quality services to men and women, rather than withdrawing the existing services. It’s as if the government is saying ‘either you take bad services or nothing’
Connecting the dots:
- Critically discuss the need for a comprehensive change in India’s policy on family planning. Enumerate methods to promote male sterilisation and how is it related with societal structure in India?
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