Recently, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (Government of India) issued an order prohibiting the issue of plastic carry bags free of cost by retailers to consumers. The cost of the bags is set by the local municipal authority. It was seen as a move to curb the usage of plastic by the public. But it all turned out to be a big humbug. The cost of plastic bags has been set at prices like ₹ 3. All I can say is that this is atrocious! Given its convenience, which consumer, who spends so much money on various items, can't give an extra ₹ 3 for a plastic bag? They should have rather given an order which ruled that only paper and jute bags should be given and no plastic bags. If plastic bags are required, the consumer should get it on its own. This stupid rule of ₹3 per bag is utter nonsense.
This is just one example of the various environmental "eyewash" policies by the Government. Not just in India, but across the world. There are numerous environmental "sweet talk" policies put forth by various countries but they all lack teeth. We have had Kyoto, Copenhagen, Cancun, and numerous summits with talking heads and empty press conferences. They fight on how to dilute whatever agreements are reached because "development" shouldn't be hampered. I mean, what gibberish is this? Development shouldn't be hampered? What development will you have if you don't have a planet to live on? There is only one EARTH!! Such doublespeak in the name of the environment by talking about environmental preservation on one hand and making destruction of the planet easier on the other hand is worthless and a complete waste of time. It is just about garnering publicity, votes, and political mileage.
However, it is not only the governments to blame. What are common citizens doing to protect the environment? It is just not blaming the government. We should even look in what ways we as individuals and as a society can help. The age-old suggestions of carpooling, switching off unnecessary fans and lights, and turning off the tap when not required hold good even today. You might balk at me saying all this is too old and I don't need to tell you this. But the reason I am telling this is because many people do not even follow these simple rules to make a change for the better. Things like switching off the car at a red signal must not be told a hundred times. Nevertheless, even if it is told a thousand times, people don't heed the advice. Such small things go a long way. The oft-repeated phrase, "Little drops of water make a mighty ocean" holds a lot of water.
Societies can also do their bit to help. For example, all buildings can install solar water heaters on the terrace. This will help to reduce, if not eliminate the dependence on geysers. Also, solar cells can be placed on rooftops. This way, the building can be partly self-reliant and reduce its dependence on electric power from the grid. There have also been some interesting inventions which I have come across. One of them was replacing the glass on corporate buildings with solar cells with the same transparency and properties. This is a brilliant idea in fact and companies should look how to implement them to their greatest advantage. It will definitely reduce the burden on power generation to a large extent. The possibilities are limitless and their applications exciting.
Moreover, even governments should implement more stringent policies to preserve the environment. In recent times, the government tried a lot but was just arm-twisted by the companies. This is extremely saddening. Corruption is also a reason for this. To make money, they forgo environmental procedures to fill their coffers. Officers and ministers should be more honest and realize that the environment comes above money. In fact, we have many good policies, but their implementation leaves a lot to be desired.
Let's hope that the people change for the better and governments mend their ways to preserve our dear planet.