While coming back from a flying visit to the hills, a few glaring eyesores which had been there for long, but ignored painfully by all concerned, invaded the peaceful mode of the mind. Thinking exercise left me disturbed and feeling helpless. Not that I had not noticed this criminal neglect before, but now my sensitivity to these issues has acquired a social activist’s approach. I want to write about issues which affect us all, not only to awaken the slumbering public but also to sensitize everybody about losing patience and forcing the authorities to take up concrete measures to root out the blights.
As we drove back from Solan, (Himachal Pradesh) the sights and sounds on both sides of the road, gripped my attention. Mountain side was splashed with lush dark green sundry vegetation and the other side showed, scary mystery of the deeply dense green valley and above, a sea of thick grey clouds loomed large preparing for a fresh spell of rain, though not that imminently.
However my sharp observation did not miss the disgustingly ugly spots which forced their way into the range of vision by default. Could not control myself from musing, how tourists from abroad would be responding to such unwholesome fare coming their way? As one goes holidaying to some place of interest, one always fantasizes glamorized version of it. In that respect, I wondered how visitors coming from far and wide, lured by the eye catching images on brochures of shiwalik hills and the prospect of perfect weather in the summers, must be getting disillusioned by disturbing visions on the road sides, on the flanks of hills and indiscriminately everywhere.
Of course, let me not keep you guessing by dwelling on the peripheries but come right away to the point.
Following are the irritants which are not that humungous to eradicate but are outrageously significant and need immediate and genuine acting upon:
Within a few minutes of our drive, stray dogs could be seen loitering with abandon around the road. At one place there were nearly a dozen of them, restlessly moving and wagging their tails, perhaps in the midst of a passionate mating challenge. Such sessions often involve ferocity, scuffles and sudden duels which happen in the middle of the highway. Imagine the plight of vehicular traffic drivers facing such unexpected threatening situations every day on the roads. Such sights are the order of the day in our country and so much of space and ink has been wasted in highlighting the gravity of the epidemic with examples of actual incidents, where such dogs have mauled and killed children and even eaten their flesh and bit whosoever came in their way. After occasional hue and cry the status quo returns till the next jolting incident.
A sense of déjà vu prevails here. Tragically, most of us are in the know of the solutions but no system gets evolved, for giving practical shape to the required actions. The menace continues to fester unabated. What gross neglect of a grave issue!
Another sour point is the littering of garbage and sundry wastes on the road sides, on mountain sides, residential areas, on vacant plots, in front of eateries etc. It is rampant and is conspicuously visible to every road user. Unattended and not properly lifted decayed filth, attract monkeys, dogs, cattle and flies and becomes breeding haven for mosquitoes, thus defiling the environment and spreading deadly diseases and epidemics. The moot question is: When we’ll learn civic sense and be responsible citizens and good human beings? This question hardly resonates in our minds.
A nuisance which endangers public safety and health is the ubiquitous curse of stray cattle moving fearlessly on inner roads and highways. Cud chewing cows, sitting in the middle of the roads, unmindful of the horns and hoots of the traffic, is a common sight throughout the year. It is really amusing to see bulls walking majestically in the dense traffic movement and rarely get hurt themselves though cause serious accidents. There are reports of vehicles turning turtle on sudden breaking at night when stray cattle sprawled on the roads get noticed at the last minute. Even public parks are trespassed by the ever increasing number of these unwanted animals.
Actually it seems stupid to go on wasting our efforts when no solution is in sight yet. Who’d enact stringent laws to haul the owners of free moving cattle and put them behind bars for avoiding their duties? And what about the role of our elected representatives who have simply forgotten to work for the well being of the people, who credited them with positions of power?
Aren’t these shameful blots on the beauty of our mountain ranges and length and breadth of our country present a poor image of us internationally. In this globalized world of numerous communication sources, nothing can be hidden any more.
Waiting for the final call to be made in this connection
This article was penned, soon after my short visit to the hills, some time back but posted on the blog from the US where we’re visiting our children.
Friends: your thoughts are welcome.