Environmental concerns and poll manifestos

All urban centres in the state are witnessing boom in private vehicle population. Instead, it is better to have efficient intra-city transport facilities.

Keeping the changing demands and needs of the community that they claim to represent in mind, political parties bring out their ‘election manifesto’ just before every election, both to serve as its policy document and also an enticement tool.

These documents can provide a glance of a broad picture of things to come if that particular political party is elected to power and given a chance to govern. With elections around the corner, such an examination of manifestos with reference to environmental governance presents an interesting scenario.

If one were to list major environmental concerns of Karnataka as a whole, first thing that demands attention is urbanisation, even in Tier III towns. Urbanisation is becoming the synonym of various issues such as deteriorating urban air quality, which has serious implications on the economy due to its health impacts. All urban centres in the state are witnessing boom in private vehicle population. Instead, it is better to have efficient intra-city transport facilities.

Bengaluru has its Metro but catering to only a portion of the mega city. Adequate water supply to urban centres is another issue that requires immediate attention. With ‘below normal monsoon’ becoming a new normal, ‘dual piping systems’ may be taken seriously.

Equally, demanding attention is the management of solid waste. In Bengaluru, it already became notorious and tier II and III towns are not far from such a situation. Away from urban centres, soil fertility and inadequate water availability are issues that need to be addressed. Soil Health Card programme is in progress, but Karnataka is still lagging behind in making use of it.

Adoption of ‘more crop per drop’ farming systems, despite its huge potential, is minimal in the state. Its promotion can resolve several issues and also help us deal with climate change.

Though elections are just a few weeks away, no political party in the state has released its manifesto as yet. However, during the previous Assembly elections in 2013, political parties released their manifestos as one would expect and covered all significant points of that time. While it is true that the election manifesto is not binding to the party in power, it shows the vision that party has. The environment has to be an indispensable issue for any future plan to be sustainable and hence, all political parties should give due attention to the environment in their manifesto and also strive to implement it.

(The writer is Consultant, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru)

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