Open House: what steps should the government take to mitigate effects of climate change? – The Tribune India
Alarm bells can’t ring more vigorously
Finally, the fire of global warming has reached our doorsteps and we are now experiencing the threat perception of climate change as never before in real terms. Environmental disasters are no more global issues now as they are localised everywhere and affecting people’s lives in a directly. Just in the beginning of the current summer season, we have suffered the worst-ever heatwave in 112 years. Alarm bells cannot ring more vigorously than this clear message exhorting us for taking immediate and revolutionary measures to contain further erosion in a time bound manner. The factors which are impacting us locally must be dealt with locally through prioritisation. For instance, unabated stubble burning on large scale in rural areas and garbage burning in urban areas are of immediate concern and can be tackled through soliciting public support and stringent administrative measures. But all the measures taken so far seem to be a colossal failure at the cost of surging air pollution. Secondly, we have to save and conserve water and protect our water bodies including rivers, streams and ponds through harvesting rain water on large scale. Thirdly, afforestation is the ultimate remedy to climate change. We need to plant more trees simultaneously saving the existing ones. Fourthly, spreading public awareness about environment and ecology need to be taken on war footing basis and only environmental studies, local language and personal hygiene be taught exclusively up to primary level of education.
With the advancement of technology, the incidents of cyber crimes have been increasing at a rapid pace. Every day more and more gullible people are falling prey to internet crime and losing their hard-earned money. What measures should the police take to safeguard people from such cyber frauds?
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Take measures to get respite from heatwave
As we know that April was the hottest month in 122 years for north India, it is up to us to take preventive measures to fight against this heatwave. We can take up many mitigation strategies and prepare ourselves beforehand in such circumstances. We should keep proper first aid and ice packs with us so that if someone has been struck with dehydration, we can easily help them. That’s the least we can do. We should not go out if not absolutely necessary. The government has also taken a wise decision and has changed the timings of schools from 7 am – 12:45 pm. The Indian Meteorological Department can inform the people about a predicted heat wave prior so that the people also have time to collect all the things that they need to stay safe. Thus, there are infinite numbers of measures that can be taken but we have to take the primary measures before so that we all are safe and do not get caught by the heat wave.
Ensure adequate supply of water
Factors responsible for global warming include deforestation, widening of roads in hilly areas and industrial policies of various countries accepting industrial revolution and heading towards the category of developed countries. Almost two decades back the issue of global warming was highlighted by the environment scientists and the media highlighted that the temperature can rise one or two degree in the coming years and similarly the level of sea water will increase. It was up to the governments to take protective measures to save the environment from pollution by plantation of new sapling, strictly follow the plantation drive in the government areas and to purchase those machines that can transfer big trees more than five decades old from one place to another places rather than axing them. Similarly, in the hilly areas due to the widening of roads the mountains were cut short. Similarly in the hilly areas lot of trees were axed to make new hotels, lodges to accommodate maximum number of tourists to generate more revenue rather than thinking of the future negative impacts of abolishing green belts. Revolutionary increase in the number of four-wheelers, three-wheelers, two-wheelers are also responsible for global warming. As the environment scientists predict that this year it can be severe heat wave and in April decades old records have been set aside by the nature. It is now for the government to adopt a policy of changing the schedule timings of Punjab government offices to 7.30 am to 3.30 pm. The government should arrange water chabeels on road sides for the people to drink water and quench their thirst. Water should be made available from 5 am to 9 pm as demand of water rises in summers. Similarly, the social organisations should come forwards for a noble cause to provide drinking water at various points to the public as approved by the administration. Similarly, round-the-clock the drinking water should be available at railway stations, bus stands, public places. The timings of the schools are also changed due to severe heat wave. There are very old big trees under their shades the people enjoy sitting due to hot wave and sitting capacity be enhanced below the old trees in the parks .
RAJAT KUMAR MOHINDRU
Tap wind & solar energy for power
First and foremost, we have to accept that each one of us on this planet is contributing to Global warming. The effects of the climate changes are being experienced every moment. But, are we geared up to combat the factors which are causing the devastating climate changes? I had read a quote somewhere: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” It’s high time that we commence focusing on the infrastructure to tap wind and solar energy for electrification. The transportation be it the aeroplanes, trains or the road transport, industry and agricultural services have to be converted to work directly from electricity instead of fossil fuels. Let us progressively bid adieu to all the gas appliances. Free or subsidised electricity might appeal the masses. However, the existing electrical grids cause huge transmission losses. Adequate funds are needed to upgrade these grids. Adopt modern storage of electricity through lithium-ion technologies. Vanmahotsava must not be restricted to just one day of the year. The cutting down of trees in the name of development is regressive and must stop. The age old agricultural practices be changed. High-tillage agriculture is a process that keeps releasing carbon captured by the soil back into the atmosphere. Switch over to low-tillage farming. Implement precision agriculture. Eliminate subsistence farming. Stop politicising the laws which are much needed to bring in the agricultural reforms. Restructure the economy to stop urban densification. Let each one of us get into real act to mitigate the effects of the climate changes than to just keep dreaming that someone else would do something miraculous to save our planet.
Col V K Sharma (retd)
Make concerted efforts to meet challenge
With mercury hovering around 42°C, the entire northern region, including Punjab, is in the grip of intense heatwave in April. Normally, June is considered the hottest month. The proximate reasons are deficient rainfall, a prolonged long dry spell, global warming and the absence of Westerly Disturbances or a La Nina that bring rains from the Mediterranean in the country. Despite the IMD forecast of rain after May 2, there is every possibility of more sweltering heatwaves for which we must be prepared.
The district administration should chalk out measures and strategies to deal with the situation such as re-scheduling school timings and working hours for outdoor workers, ensuring adequate provisions for beating the heat in offices, factories, firms and other workplaces, creation of drinking water facilities, special shelter homes, update healthcare provisions, etc. The authorities should also spread awareness about: sufficient intake of drinking water; wearing light-weight, light-coloured cotton clothes; keeping homes cool with curtains and shutters; avoiding direct sunlight during peak hours; and avoiding heavy, protein-rich and spicy food, etc.
Simran & Tajpreet S Kang
Solar power needs a big boost
With the onset of summer, mercury is sharply rising in the Northern region. In Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan, the temperature is hovering around 40-45°C. Amid the IMD reports that this April has been the hottest in the last 120 years and the weather experts further forecasting that the region is to continue in the grip of burning heat waves for another 2/3 months. Consequently, direct exposure to sunrays may result in severe skin burns, dehydration and cerebral strokes. Under such unsavoury conditions, humans will have to readjust the work schedule and restrategise the safety measures for protection. Indeed, the challenge is substantial and scientific approach is very vital to protect the atmosphere in view of the ozone layer depleting continuously. To deal with governance issues related to current heat wave, Punjab administration has taken proactive steps like preponing summer vacations in schools for students’ safety, incentivising farmers with Rs 1,500 per acre for direct seeding of rice (DSR) to prevent water guzzling. Apart from these initiatives, it should evolve an effective warning system against vagaries of weather and streamline measures to abridge the recurring scarcity of electricity, caused by undercharging of water reservoirs due to deficient rainfall and recurring short supply of coal to thermal plants. The solar power generation needs a big boost for sustainable solutions to frequent power cuts. The plans regarding conservation of groundwater also require strong impetus while all out emphasis be laid on preserving & expanding forestry, especially on vacant lands around roads and water bodies like rivers, drains and canal- channels etc. For instant relief from the impact of heat waves, a dedicated task force of volunteers from public and government officials can be engaged for coordinated action to assist the affected zones. In all, the government will have to invigorate efforts to undertake vulnerability assessment of hot spots of sudden climate change and implement the environment policies without laxity at any level.
Nirmaljit Singh Chatrath
Poor, kids biggest casualty of heatwave
The record-breaking heat wave sweeping the north India has made April the hottest month. According to the IMD prediction, there are chances of some respite n the coming days. Since the frequency of the heatwave is rising regularly every year due to climate change, billions of people who are exposed to dangerous temperatures are a harried lot. The biggest casualties of these searing conditions are mostly the poor and vulnerable workers in the unorganised sectors and the school-going children. It is very important to make an action plan to avoid health impacts like dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
The state government, NGOs, civil society organisations and all other stakeholders should follow Centre’s guidelines and make concerted efforts to meet the potential challenge. In particular, the district administration should make an action plan to examine specific vulnerability conditions among slum dwellers and highly exposed occupational workers, give early warnings about the impending heatwave through multiple media platforms and develop heat illness management and training to healthcare professionals. All school outings and sport events should be cancelled, and ask all public and private workplaces to allow more and more people to work from home. The public, on its part, should all necessary measures to minimise the heat impact and prevent serious ailment or death because of heat stroke.
D S Kang
Govt should promote public transport
No doubt the heatwave is at its climax in many years, almost in 122 years. The reason is the coal burning, using fuel in the four-wheelers and two-wheelers and even high population in the country. With high prices of the domestic gas cylinders, the poor can’t afford to get another gas cylinder. So, as a result, they use only cow dung and other easy materials for cooking in their hearths. The water table is also getting lower every year. Heat is at its peak. During Covid times when the curfew was imposed, the smoke from the vehicles was totally missing and the environment became people-friendly. Stubble burning by the farmers is another reason for heat wave increasing. Afforestation is the one solution for checking this heat wave. The government should increase public transportation so that people don’t use individual vehicles. Car pooling is another means of decreasing pollution so that individuals avoid personal vehicles and take one vehicle for 4-5 persons. This will also reduce pollution by use of individual vehicles.
Dr JS Wadhwa