BANKS AND THE POLLUTION

Pollution is a big monster which has engulfed the whole world especially the developing and the underdeveloped countries. The reason being that such countries need to develop factories, industry, infrastructure, mining, technology, defence, agriculture and education etc. Except for services and education, all other sectors of the economy create pollution in one way or the other. Factories, industries, and technology create smoke dust, dangerous gases, heat and noise which all add to the pollution level all around. Infrastructure creates noise, dust, and electronic pollution. Development in defence is the mother of all types of pollution in the air, on the ground and in the sea. On the micro level, all of us contribute to the addition in pollution in many ways.

Banks are the agents of development and no economy can survive or develop without a sound banking system. while they are contributing to the development of nations, they are by default contributing to the creation of pollution. Creation of pollution can’t be segregated for elimination from the development, however, it can be reduced by going green wherever possible. But we can’t have a green defense, ammunition, missiles, warplanes. Likewise, we can’t dream of green industrial wastage, green effluents, and green noise, smoke, and e- wastage. These need to be properly managed and treated before being disposed of.

Pollution as such is a compulsory evil which needs to be managed in a proper manner and kept at a tolerable level: a total elimination is impossible.

There are mainly two bodies which are entrusted with the job of managing pollution and cleanliness. Urban and rural local bodies such as municipal committees/corporations and the pollution control boards. However, the green tribunals are also doing a wonderful job by enforcing applicable laws for the safety of the environment and ecology. Municipal bodies lack planning, adequate funds, and trained manpower. The very urgent and necessary job of cleaning and garbage management is being done in a very casual manner. Municipal garbage from drains is removed and stocked in lanes, dumped on the roads in open where animals, birds, and flies feast to their will and is ultimately transported to dumping yards which are either within the dwelling areas or are very close to them. The small and the big drains remain choked thereby creating harmful gases and spreading of foul smell laced with dangerous bacteria. The effluent in the drains is allowed untreated into the rivers and canals with impunity. It appears as if all the concerned are in a deep slumber although they like other citizens are equally affected by the pollution so created.

The plight of the municipal field workers is pitiable. They are not properly trained to handle such a risky job which in addition to affecting their health has sometimes resulted in their deaths due to exposures to hazardous and toxic gases while cleaning the gutters. Their very tedious, dangerous, and risky job which ordinarily no one will like to do unless one has the compelling circumstances of poverty, is not properly appreciated and suitably compensated. The need of the hour is to provide adequate training to these menial laborers and their job to be properly compensated and appreciated. They need to be provided with all the necessary items required for their safety such as helmets, long gumboots, rubber gloves, and pollution masks. Unless they are not adequately trained, compensated, provided with necessary safety items, they can’t be held accountable for any lax in the performance of their duty. A very casual approach at the administrative level is bound to induce a work culture of casual nature.

The pollution control boards have the prime responsibility of controlling the pollution but the level of pollution all around speaks volumes about the failure of their efforts to control the same. The history is witness to the fact that whenever any control was exercised on any activity, it went out of control. We had exchange control, gold control, and also the birth control but all these controls failed to achieve the desired results and ultimately their nomenclature was changed. Exchange control was changed to Foreign exchange management act (FEMA). Gold control act too has been repealed and now it is from control to seamless trade. Birth control is now Family planning. Control seems to be a crude word. Pollution control boards are therefore desired to be renamed as pollution management boards which should be made accountable for the proper management of pollution.

The present position of these boards is not appreciable and seems to be lacking in action, performance, and governance. Factories and industries are existing in the middle of towns, cities, and the metros, making hell for the life of the residents. Diesel generator sets at almost all commercial complexes as well as at Pvt. residences are contributing a lot to the already existing pollution. Municipal waste is dumped in the lanes and on the roads. Even the greenest agriculture/horticulture sector is not behind in contributing their share of pollution by burning huge quantity of stubble in the fields and pruned branches and dry leaves of the trees. Excessive use of chemical fertilizers and spraying of poisonous pesticides is adding to the pollution in the air and on the earth thereby disturbing the balance of nature ( SAVE THE EARTH ). Toxic effluents from factories and households are allowed freely to flow to the so-called sacred rivers.

And above all, we the citizens do clean our houses but unmindfully throw the garbage on the lanes and roads sometimes just in front of our houses. We always expect others to respect the law and do things for us. Who will come to our rescue if we are bent upon digging our own graves and make this wonderful planet a hell for our coming generations? The coming generations will curse us if we all, responsible for this mess, didn’t mend our styles of working and ensure the health of the Earth and that of humanity as a whole.

Construction of unplanned or wrongly planned concrete jungles after destroying the natural green cover without caring a bit for the ecology and environment is being allowed which also is a major cause for the pollution. Who will stop this or mend the wrongs already done? Are the concerned authorities waiting for someone to come from the heavens to set things right for us? Nature has already started showing its anger(NATURE’s EQUILIBRIUM) and reaction in the form of storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. These early warnings are signs of the Doomsday. We all have to respect nature and try our best to save our beautiful planet.

Banks although not directly creating pollution, but are aiding the creation of the same in a big way. They can play a vital role directly and indirectly in managing pollution in a big way. There is hardly any activity which is not in one way or the other dependant on the banks. Banks should strictly ensure that the activity they are financing will not pollute the air, water or the land in any manner. They should ensure that the factories and the big complexes have proper sewage treatment plants (STP) in proper working order as well as arrangements for the proper treatment and disposal of the garbage, effluents, and the emissions. Installments of finance can be withheld until these facilities are not created. Banks should ensure that such add ups are in proper working order by physically inspecting them during their periodical inspection of the inventories and the plant, machinery, and other assets financed by them.

Banks do ensure that the unit proposed to be financed has adequate space/land available but have failed to ensure that the proposed loanee for a vehicle loan has adequate parking space at his place of residence or elsewhere excepting the lanes and the roads. The lanes and the roads appear as car bazars with hardly any space left for movement of vehicles or for the people to walk. Banks have a great role in the creation of congestion in the lanes and on the roads thus slowing down the movement of traffic and creation of a lot of pollution. One may have to visit the bank ten times to get a loan sanctioned for the purchase of a buffalo, but the car loan is sanctioned, disbursed, and even the car is got delivered within less than an hour. We see attractive advertisements of the banks in the newspapers about the facility of quick sanction and disbursement of the loan for the vehicle and other electronic items at much cheaper rates and at no margin or very nominal margin. Has anyone seen such an advertisement for a loan for the purchase of a cow, buffalo, or a horse which provide livelihood and create no pollution? Banks also need to promote with the similar zeal the sectors which are eco-friendly and provide more job opportunities to the people.

Banks need to promote those sectors which are going green by setting a self-example of going green themselves. To start with they can get all their main buildings run on green solar energy by harnessing the same on their rooftops and growing more green plants, grass, and flowers in the open spaces. This would set an example for others to follow. They should promote the use of green manure in agriculture and horticulture by helping the farmers to convert animals dung into vermicompost and the converting the other field wastage, leaves, pruned branches of trees into the green manure by the available techniques which are cheap and easy to use. This needs to be done in a mission mode as this can change the life of people in terms of quality as well as financially. They can do this as well as help farmers in the management of stubble by diverting their CSR funds for this noble cause. Banks are agents of development, let them now prove that they are agents of change also. With the type of dedication, commitment, and zeal with which the bankers have been working, it is expected that they can do this very effectively.

DEVELOPMENT: A PERSPECTIVE

Development is happening in every field around the world for making the life more comfortable for the humans. There is no end to the development as there always remains something more to be achieved. It appears that man wants to achieve complete perfection beyond which there is no further scope for any development.

In order to achieve perfection and complete satisfaction, he is restlessly toiling day and night and running after a mirage; an illusion of satisfaction. This directionless effort is, in fact, making him more and more dissatisfied thus making him wander in the wilderness.

If we just compare the development made during the last few decades, we find that lot of infrastructure such as highways, roads, airways, waterways, railways along with utilities have been developed. More houses, buildings, transport, industry, huge projects are being added to take care of the increasing human population. A lot of development has happened in the agriculture and food industry, power sector, defense, space, energy, education, and health sectors.

Despite all development, we have not been able to eliminate the miseries of this world. Still, people in some part of the world are dying of malnutrition, hunger, and lack of Medicare although there is no shortage of food, medicines, and doctors in this world. We don’t lack resources, we lack compassion and will to help others( COMPASSION ) . We live in very narrow contours of compassion and don’t share our possessions with those who are in need, although every religion of the world teaches us to help the needy.

Unplanned and excessive mining, construction of huge tunnels and roads, railway tracks, over the ground as well as under the ground have definitely disturbed the environment, ecology, and so, the balance of nature. Our planet has an abundance capacity to bear the load and shocks of development but that capacity is not unlimited. It does have a limit, and once we exceed the limit, there is bound to be some reaction and which has started happening.

Mankind is the only race which leaves no stone unturned to pollute the overground, underground, and in the atmosphere resources which in fact are beneficial for him, little realizing that the earth and the atmosphere also have the life which needs nourishment for their sustenance ( SAVE THE EARTH ). Disturbance and destruction beyond a point are bound to compel the earth to react. Why are we blind to these reactions which have started giving their signals in the form of change in weather, unprecedented floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, volcano eruptions, wind and snow storms. Have not we seen mighty mountains crumbling like mounds of sand? The breaking of mountains can cause a temporary blockage of the rivers thus creating huge reservoirs of water and which can create havoc once these temporary blockages give in to the hydraulic pressure created by the stored water. We are unmindfuly polluting the rivers, oceans, and other water bodies which are a lifeline for the entire life on this planet.

Cruelty against nature is bound to produce negative results. We do need crops, plants, water, and trees for a living but we have to keep a balance between the development and destruction of the planet and the atmosphere(  NATURE’s EQUILIBRIUM  ). In the ancient times and even at present, in some leading religions of the world, rivers, lakes, oceans and some trees are considered to be holly and are worshiped. People used to throw coins as an offering in these water bodies. The coins used to be made of copper, silver, or gold and all these metals purify water. Watering the plants was considered as Punya( Sacred deed, virtue ). The purpose of these religious beliefs was to keep water bodies clean and pollution free. Cutting certain trees such as Peepal (Banyan), plants, even their branches was considered a sin. All this was to save and protect the environment and ecology. The love and fear of God were always kept in mind while dealing with the people and the environment. Although all days are alike yet certain days of the week were fixed to be considered as more holy and sacred for special prayers. Only pious deeds were done on these designated days. The purpose was to not let the minds of people lose sight of prayers, good deeds, and to remain connected with the lord for ensuring a blissful living.

In the name of development, we have polluted the atmosphere and made the earth a fragile planet, which is not prepared to bear more disturbance and load. The human’s population is increasing whereas the number of trees is on the decrease. With more roads, buildings, houses, and other infrastructure, the area under green cover is decreasing thus making it difficult to meet the required level of oxygen in the air. It is perhaps due to this factor that the man who considers himself as the most intelligent of all species, is trying to discover life and good environment on other planets in the universe by making huge sacrifices of resources which otherwise can be utilized for making this world as a heaven.

Perhaps we have not understood the true meaning of development. Development should ensure good health for all, a tension free life, contentment, respect, elimination of bias towards anyone, good morals, and a heart full of compassion. All these will make us true human beings and deserve to be called the ‘Top of the creation’. Otherwise, we are as good or as bad as other creatures. Have we achieved this by the way we are making development? More roads, more transport has resulted in more pollution and more accidents. There are more medicines and more qualified doctors yet there are more dangerous and fatal diseases. The number of cancer, heart attacks, and other killer diseases is on the rise. Nations have become rich and strong and have accumulated heavy stocks of weapons of mass destruction. Of what use is this development? This so-called development has changed our perceptions and ways of thinking and beliefs. Corruptions, drinking, telling lies for personal gains, cheating, adultery etc. were considered as the biggest sins but with the development, these sins are considered as a way of modern life and are recognized by the society with esteem.  Real development is an evolution of a better life. We the humans are believed to have evolved from lower species to higher species through a very long period and that is the real development.

We need to divert this direction of development towards a better life, character building and values of life. The lifeline of the human race needs to be protected. All life on this earth to be respected and protected by eliminating pollution of any type. Saving the environment is not the sole responsibility of the state. Everyone has to contribute his bit to this noble cause. Trees should not be cut unless it is extremely unavoidable. We should plant five trees against the cutting of one tree. Everyone must plant at least two trees every year in order to make good the loss already done to the environment. We have to ensure peaceful coexistence between men, animal, and the environment. That will be the development in the real sense.