Running away from pollution is future craze
I got up the other day to full bright sun and azure blue sky with Dhauldhar shimmering in my front. The snow capped peaks were like the image of a clean polished teeth in ads. when i braced the salubrious climate of Himachal I got a rude shock one of my friend from Delhi sent me a picture wearing a mask which was frightening at the screen. First it shocked me as he looked like a terrorist. But later I discovered many more on the net and television, who were covering their faces with masks and walking on the roads of my dearest city of Delhi where I grew up and which I abandoned ten years back to relocate myself in a patch of pine forest in Himachal. Why people do not come and escape the growing pollution in the cities especially when they have had their innings? I quoted Urdu poet who wrote- ‘Bade shehron main dar lagne laga hai / Chalo ab lot chalen junglon main”.
Today 32 flights of airlines were diverted from Delhi as these could not land due to poor visibility. I recollected that when I visited China on invitation of two universities four years back it was horrendous visibility and pollution problem in China. I was taken from Shanghais to Beijing in train as my host did not want to take the risk of cancelled flight. I had anticipated this environmental disaster of China earlier also as my son, who is a pilot, flew in to China and many times he had to face diversions due to pollution in industrial area, even in Beijing. One of main reasons in creating this ugly scenario was the reckless industrial growth through SEZs. They have taken prompt and effective steps to contain the damage. Not only Delhi according to reports half of India is reeling under poisonous gases. While Government had many options that they will consider but the option I am advocating in this article is to motivate people who have retired or are now no longer in full time working condition, can move to rural or hinterland type of regions. Now since internet is available and Modi’s vision to connect all villages and give power or electivity is well orchestrated and implemented there should be war like effort to make entire India connectable and offer services. Two areas- work and Health- must be seriously considered to relocate industry and develop employment / business opportunities or to develop work centers to give jobs to the rural population.
From my experience, I think the greatest disincentive to moving out from big cities is lack of health facilities. When I was leaving Delhi and coming to live in Himachal my former boss asked me about the place and only one caution he gave me: Don’t chose a place that has no good health facilities. I was too reckless to ignore his advice and chose a jungle to live. But Himachal is notorious in having poor faculties of health when it has climate and potential to have international health resort to give jobs and earn revenue.Whenever you go to neighboring state visit its hospitals there, my heart bleeds to see the crowd of Himachal residents queuing up there. They undertake long travel in hilly terrain to get good medical treatment. I am sure dozens of private big business will like to establish resorts like Max or Fortis or any such other groups but we are unable to make or attract such international standard hospitals in Himachal. We have excellent infrastructure building in Tanda medical college but it needs world class facilities, best experts and management. No one is interested in making it national level if not world class. Hamirpur, Chamba, Bharwain and Mandi should have similar facilities. It required Modi who gave vision of national health insurance and now it needs him in Himachal to make it health hub of India by bringing international institutions in health. I like Japanese saying “where there is problem there is business”. It is so true.
It is not enough to ask people to shift to countryside from cities but it needs providing facilities that can even attract city dwellers to come to country side where world class institutions exist. I want people from all over the country to come for health to Himachal rather than Himachal’s masses running to other states to seek relief.
By Prof. NK Singh
(The writer is International Management Adviser.)