Polluted Water, Fruits, Milk & Vegetables Adding to Covid Woes
Five natural key elements, including air and water are indispensable not only for human beings but all living beings.In all the metros and a few “Smart” cities, human beings are being compelled to breath polluted air with a profound Air Quality Index(AQI), mostly ranging from 200 to 300(Poor quality).The difference becomes distinct during Lock Down (L.D.) and non-L.D.periods.
In environment conscious Delhi ,it has varied from105 in April 2020 beginning to 418(severe) on 22/12/20. Besides, the urban dwellers are made to consume “clean looking” polluted water,either through pipes or sourced from ground.
Another burning issue is spurios supply of chemically made milk and milk products.
Lowering of water Table from 7 to 23 meters in some areas of N.C.R.is not only a cause of serious concern but all along the banks of major rivers in many states.
Land, per se, may look fertile and may also yield bumper crops, but very few of these areas are free from poisonous and hazardous substances causing diseases, such as Cancer.
Depressing Milk & Vegetable Scenario
Added to issues flagged, is another aspect of non-visible pollution entering human body, through duplicate medicines, “chemical”milk & milk products and green, sparkling and healthy looking vegetables.
As per standard norms, any vegetable is not supposed to contain more than 0.1 PPM of Lead but in some vegetables grown in Trans Yamuna area of Delhi, PPM upto the extent of 28.06 has been found by a Study. Similarly, prevalence of 3.42 PPM of Cadmium has been found which should not exceed 0.1 PPM normally. Common man is also taken for granted by flood of chemical milk supply and products, such as Paneer.Ghee.Curd etc.Due to their high demand, forgery & element of deceit is never ruled out.
To cater to the N.C.R., hill towns of J&K, H.P., Uttarakhand, West Bengal,Sikkim and states of North East as also major upcoming urban conglomerates, vegetables are not only being propped up by chemical fertilizers but their cultivation is mostly carried out in polluted and slushy plots whose soil health is a matter of doubt.
Need For Soil Testing
Incidentally, if one is not mistaken, the initiative for testing and certifying health of soil and thereby issuing “Soil Health Cards” is a new phenomenon. It is much delayed but appreciable step to have an idea about contamination of water and soil. Needless to say, the “Always in Hurry” Covid era consumer, usually with a fat pocket, refrains from candid thinking while visiting market or availing” on line “delivery.
Gradually, therefore, slow poison penetrates his body from sources hinted, causing varied complications and short & long run diseases.
Setbacks to Early Fruits
One is already sadly facing the old process of speeding up the ripening through carbide in respect of Banana, round the year available fruit.Such a nefarious practice gathers momentum when it comes to Mangoes also during its peak season from May to August.On top of it, the havoc played by Covid pertaining to Alphonso, Chausa, Dushery variety of mangoes for two years in succession, should not be undermined. Apart from severe and shocking losses to the growers since April,2020 ,the consumers in general too have suffered. Such a state is expected in 2022-23 also.
Is Alert & Vigilant Consumer A Misnomer?
In addition to two fruits, a certain foul play may be going on without the knowledge of now “vigilant and empowered ” consumers when it comes to milk & milk products, Lichies, Papayas, Oranges, Kharbuja and Pineapples.The mere fact that some milk products, Lichies and a certain type of Oranges have relatively short season or shelf life, their availability in the market of any specification, beyond a certain period ,raises genuine suspicion.
Recent plantation drive in Yamuna Bank and Chilla areas of Khadar region of Trans Yamuna Delhi could be considered a good start to check growth of sprawling , illegal vegetable cultivation in an area, polluted heavily by contaminated water.
Herein, two pertinent questions, nevertheless, could be posed:
***Has any Study been carried out about the impact of such vegetables already consumed by lakhs of people during a decade or so?
***Secondly, Is there any cess or tax being realised from the growers who have pocketed lakhs of Rupees by way of profit from their prized produce, going to the extent of over Rs 3 to 4 Crores annually?
According to a recent Vernacular daily report, about 22 Bighas of land were being utilized in the Trans Yamuna area.Now that total land use has been scaled down by the green measures adopted by the N.C.T. Forest Department, corresponding, ‘illegal’ profits, naturally, may have boomeranged. The said report, quoting an authentic study, indicates further that the turn over from such vegetable cultivation could be doubled to Rs.8 Crores annually, once Yamuna water is cleaned up finally (?) atleast, along Delhi stretch.
CLEAN YAMUNA, ULTIMATE SOLUTION
No wonder, a chorus of voices are coming from the environmentalists and NOT from “Immune” field officers of the Government that there has to be a ban on contaminated vegetable cultivation till the whole of Yamuna passing through Delhi is declared not only clean but also same is declared fit for human consumption.
Over the years, sadly, as such, owing to rise in the level of both air and water pollution together with high incidence of chemical fertilizers, both productivity and production have declined considerably. In view thereof, temporary barricading and plantation, may be of non-endemic species along some areas of river bank, could be only a temporary solution to a permanent problem.
LIVELIHOOD EQUALLY IMPORTANT
Not only clean environment “sky wise” with atleast 150 AQI , actual potable water, genuine milk products and essential fruits have to be the Need of Hour during the ongoing Covid Wave, providing safety and security to the livelihood of the vegetable and other growers is also to be given paramount importance.It is in view of fast deteriorating inflation scenario, rural and urban unemployment(CMIE reports) and overall crime rates.
FREAK WEATHER IMPACT
With a view to have an appropriate understanding in the midst of Freak weather all over World, resulting into landslides & flash floods even in hard rock high altitude terrains of Kargil, Amarnath.
Kinnaur, Sirmour, etc. coupled with flash floods and massive soil erosion in dry areas, such as,Jammu or pockets of Rajasthan ,there is no harm in mentioning that concerned technical & development officers are having gala time in Bihar, J&K, Uttarakhand, Kerala, U.P., M.P, Maharastra, etc.
Annual Overflow Scenario & Rainwater Harvesting
When it comes to the annual “Overflow Scenario” in Assam and Bihar, it has not only become a fashion but established practice to utter”The Upsurge is being caused by the neighbouring countries”.
AND SHOW GOES ON………
Last but not the least, the highly useful practice of inculcating RAIN WATER HARVESTING habit or making it mandatory for passing maps and plans of urban houses appears to have been conveniently forgotten by one and all.
We tend to remember it only during high level seminars and conferences organized by Government Departments and Multi lateral UN organizations, held mostly in Five Star settings.
To Conclude, shall we say that High Covid ridden” happening” country of India on the eve of 3rd Wave and 75th Anniversary of Independence is destined to suffer both in Ati-Bristi (Excess Rain) and Ana-Bristi (paucity of rain) situations?
Who is not aware of pollutants and malpractices concerning air, water, drugs, milk, fruits & vegetables?
But how many of us are willing to come forward, identify, fix responsibility And Bell the Cat?
WHO WILL TAKE CARE ?
(The author is a retired Chief Secretary, Sikkim)