KOLKATA, the capital city of the Left-ruled West Bengal, is slowly but steadily turning into a methane gas chamber. According to the report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes (IPCC), the rain water in the city is turning dangerously acidic. IPCC was established in 1988 by two UN organisations, the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme, to estimate the risk of climate change on humans. IPCC has found that the unchecked automobile pollution is the main reason for abnormal rise in temperature. Kolkata and its adjoining urban areas in the districts have recorded rise in temperature by 2 degrees Celsius during the past 10 years mainly due to rampant auto pollution.
As a result, water level of the sacred river Ganga is receding very fast in West Bengal. Saviour and Friend of Environment (SAFE) also found that rainwater in the city is progressively turning acidic and there is a chance that the city may soon experience acid rain. Kolkata is growing hotter every year as there is no water body left in the city periphery to cool temperatures. Almost all water areas in the eastern fringes of Kolkata have been filled up for promoting high-rise buildings and modern shopping malls during the past 10 years of the Left Front government in West Bengal. Environment activists in Kolkata are all unanimous in their opinion that the Left Front government is deliberately ignoring environment protection laws only to serve the interest of some major industrial houses.
Subhas Dutta, president of Rejuvenators for Environment, Nature and United Society (RENU), a non-governmental organisation for protection of environment in Kolkata, in a letter to the Chief Justice of India, K. G. Balakrishnan has demanded that environmental clearance should be made mandatory for setting up any project or Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the country. In most such cases, both the centre and the state governments are ignoring environment protection laws in their zeal for quick industrialisation by setting up SEZs.
When contacted to verify Dutta'sallegation, SPCB sources said, ?Instructions from a high-level authority at Writers? Buildings has forced us to gradually withdraw from environment activities.? Environment scientist, Sibabrata Chatterjee, one of the architects of environmental laws in India, remarked, ?Is there anything called SPCB in West Bengal? I have approached the Board several times but have received no reply or help.?
In fact, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government in its zeal for industrialization in the state has shifted the SPCB member secretary, the most important official, six times during the past two years. Other key officials, including the chairman and law officer, have been shunted out. Even the minister-in-charge for environment has been changed thrice during the regime of the Bhattacharjee government. Chatterjee, who is also secretary of the Friends of Wetland and Wildlife, said that frequent changes in the SPCB administration have actually eroded its practical utility.