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Need for developmental model that doesn't poison air, water
Managing a vehicular license costs a consumer more than owning a car in Shanghai in China. You must be surprised, but this is true. Shanghai authority, having recorded huge environmental degradation and severe health damage due to air pollution by rapid motorization decided to impose restriction on car purchase.

It may sound a hard punishment for a small offence. In fact, Shanghai is one of the four cities in China that clamped strict restrictions on buying a car. Japan’s Kitakyushu city is another model where equal stress has been laid on industrialization and large scale green vegetation.

While Shanghai is a glaring example showing a way to control environmental damages led by better prosperity of people, Kitakyushu highlights ensuring green coverage while going for development.

It is a pity that  in Tripura development certainly means degradation of green environment on a large scale. Fading greenery, hazy skyline and air afflicted with suspended pollutants matters (SPM) are signs of development pace. Will Tripura learn lessons from progressive countries and change its perception about significance of environment?

On the World Environment Day (WED), at least, let us prepare ourselves to look at ambient environment with a sense of more concern and focusing on development balancing ecology as much as possible. It will be unfair to suggest that the state government is a mute spectator in the face of global emphasis on environment.

Solar city schemes, introduction of CNG, aforestation programmes, restoration of rivers and rivulets are just few of the programs that the state government has already embarked upon. Efforts in popularizing CNG application in the state have received much appreciation from people.

A recent report of the Global Burden of Disease stated air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death in India. In Tripura, with growing income level and subsequent rapid motorization, air quality in urban areas is fast deteriorating leading to severe health hazards. Though no study is available, physicians opined coughing, asthma, bronco related diseases are on the rise in Tripura.

Considering the present situation and anticipated deterioration of air quality in near future, introduction of CNG mechanism is one of the effective methods to safeguard ambient air quality in urban areas. Using CNG in cars and auto-rickshaws in Tripura is expected to pull down air pollution level and reduce incidences of diseases caused by pollutants. If the present momentum can be sustained, Tripura may emerge as a model state in CNG application very soon.

However, CNG application alone is not sufficient to address the air pollution issue. Along with the CNG programme, Tripura should mull over implementing strict parking policies like Aizawl. Importantly, complimenting Mizoram Government’s exemplary parking policies, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) adjudged Mizoram as the as the state that took best steps against air pollution under the National Ambient Air Monitoring Programme.

Known as ‘Aizawl model’, several states and organizations have lauded such a simple yet effective measure to curb air pollution due to motorization. Under the Aizawl parking policy, it is mandatory for owning and buying any type of motor vehicle including two-wheeler that buyer should have a garage within the residential or business compound or in some other place, or a garage hired from other persons for parking the vehicle. This policy has effectively reduced unauthorized parking and forced people to get a place to park the vehicle before actually buying it.

Experts view that ‘Aizawl model’ is a softer variation of Shanghai system where authorities try to dissuade people from buying a car by clamping complicated as well as costly licensing policy. Tripura has won several crowns relating to implementation of social welfare schemes like MGNREGA, performance of the state government and policy makers are lagging much behind in addressing air pollution hazards.

The State Pollution Control Board should come up with latest information on pollution status of urban and rural areas of the state. Further, it is important to conduct proper studies to judge consequences of establishing brick kilns in densely populated areas and around places of historical importance like Neermahal.

Amidst the celebration of the ‘World Environment Day’, never mind, a vital question crept into the mind - Will the policy makers be able to implement a development model that will foster growth without poisoning ambient air quality? Moreover, it is important to ponder over whether common people will be able to realize that air pollution due to excessive motorization is emerging as a major cause for several killer diseases.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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