In fact, sometimes, it becomes difficult even to breathe because one can feel the heavy air that one is inhaling. Another source of pollution is the smoke from the factories, running in residential areas. They emit highly toxic fumes into the atmosphere making life miserable for those who live around.
Another reason of too much pollution is the absence of plants and trees. Cutting down of trees indiscriminately everywhere for the sake of buildings has created the problem of survival itself. We forget that trees breathe in carbon-dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere so that the atmosphere is, automatically, purified.
However, the blind race for industrialization and development everywhere has resulted in very few patches of greenery in our cities. It has resulted in our suffering the ill-effects of atmospheric pollution.
Water is another essential necessity which, again, we get in a highly polluted form. It is easy to isolate the sources of pollution here also. One reason is our age-old superstitious belief in ancient customs which leads us to make the water filthy. For example, hair after a ‘Mundan’ ceremony is collected and thrown into the river Ganges or the Jamuna.
Ashes and left-over bones, after the cremation of the dead body of a friend or relative, are also thrown into these and other big rivers. It never comes to our mind that the cities, through which these rivers are flowing, receive their water supply from them. Yet people can be seen washing their dirty clothes with impunity on the banks of these rivers which further contaminates the water.
As if all this is not enough, effluents from industries are also released into the rivers and these further aggravate the problem. Yet again, the pipes through which the water is supplied to us are often old and rusted. There is apparently no way of cleaning them with the result that worms, cysts, dust, and other impurities are a normal part of the ‘fresh’ water, supplied to us in the cities.
The aftermath of all this pollution of air and water is really deadly for all those living in cities. Air pollution leaves no pure air to breathe in and these results in a host of diseases like suffocation, breathlessness, asthma and migraine.
The body remains deprived of its required supply of oxygen and thus we feel too weak to work efficiently. This is why our cities are filled with pale, anemic-looking adults and children, for the blood deprived of the life-giving oxygen, absorbs the toxic gases present in the atmosphere.
Water pollution is also highly harmful. In addition to the toxic effects of the industrial poisons, which the water contains, cysts and worms have become a chronic problem with many a city dweller. Even heavy chlorination shows no beneficial effects and the level of pollution remains above the acceptable norms.
No wonder, epidemics like cholera, typhoid, hepatitis and other such water-borne diseases regularly attack the masses. Further, the dust, which can easily be seen, if the water is collected in a vessel and left standing for sometime, results in the bladder and kidney problems.
The most urgent need of the hour, therefore, is to have an effective check on the pollution problem, if we are to escape being a nation of sick and unhealthy citizens. This is possible only when individuals and the government are serious enough about remedying the situation and make quick, joint efforts.
A number of steps are to be initiated to get rid of the air- pollution in cities. All of us should maintain our vehicles well so that only the minimum amount of fumes is emitted. The government can take a strong view of it and penalize the offenders heavily. If there are frequent checks, they are sure to yield positive results.
Again, there should be continuous check on the industries, spewing smoke and toxic fumes without any consideration for others into the atmosphere. The chimneys should be at a height from where the smoke does not come down to the earth. Wherever possible, trees and plants should be planted. This will convert the carbon-di-oxide in the atmosphere in to life-giving oxygen.
Likewise, stern and deterring steps must be taken to check water pollution. Dumping of rubbish at any point in any river has to be prohibited. To respect the religious sentiments of the people, certain areas could be cordoned-off for the ceremonial disposal of ashes etc. A regular cleaning operation of the river should be undertaken.
The results are sure to be highly rewarding, if mass involvement is encouraged. Sometime back there was a major Ganges-Cleaning Operation, and it yielded tonnes of rubbish. However, unless this is done on a regular basis, the problem is not going to be eliminated forever.
Again, the industries throwing their waste into the river- waters should be ordered to incinerate it at the source. Further the municipal authority’s in-charge of the water supply should clean up their tanks regularly and filter and treat the water properly to free it from dust, cysts and other dangerous matter in it. Epidemics of water-borne diseases would, then, be prevented from increasing at the source.