In the wake of record breaking rainfall and eventual floods in Chennai, I came across several news reports and opinions blaming the Chennai Corporation, Chennai Metropolitan Development authority and successive governments over the years for poor design, construction and maintenance of drainage systems and storm water drains in Chennai.
Coinciding with the Chennai’s devastating floods, the World Climate Change Conference in Paris is in progress not long ago Prime Minister Modi declared November 26 as the constitution day. The coincidence of these three moments made me to pen down (type down) these words.
Firstly, our constitution bestows us with six Fundamental rights. These fundamental rights being the crown jewels of a democracy, preserve our individual liberty based on equality of all members of society. However, if we are deprived of our constitutional rights and if there is any danger shadowing our access to rights, we come out onto the streets to protest and debate against the right and wrong. We blame the government if we are refrained from our basic rights. In addition to this our constitution safeguards our rights. None is deprived of any right. And that is the beauty of a democracy.
At the same time there are fundamental duties which we are given by the same constitution to follow. And the problem which strikes me is there would be no legal action against us if we do not care about the fundamental duties. Only moral obligation exists and our conscience has to decide it.
Below are few duties asked (requested or begged) to perform by our constitution which are relevant in this context.
- To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.
- To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.
- To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
- To safeguard public property and to abjure violence.
Chennai never took above things seriously and neither did any city in India. Lake view apartments have become exclusive to the unprecedented but natural swell of lake. Blaming the Chennai corporation authorities serves nothing. Blame yourself.
Chennai has faced the brunt now and the turn of Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and several other future smart cities is not very far unless proper action is taken in planning and development.
If we scream that we have rights to do anything under the ambit of law and forget the duties towards the environment, the ever beautiful nature will show its dark face.
Do you want to look at it? Do you want to experience it?
If you want to know how it feels to look at the dark side of nature,
Ask the people who ran away from its shadow,
Ask the people who had no food and water,
Ask the people who spent sleepless dark cold nights surrounded by rising water levels,
Ask any one of the thousands of people who stretched their hand to satisfy their hunger and at the same time
Ask the volunteers and army personnel who lend their hands to them.
And finally ask Chennai. It is acquainted with it very well.