The torrid charm of being a UP politician

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati has resigned. She's ended, as a newspaper put it, her "third honeymoon" with the Bharatiya Janata Party, a coalition partner. It is being said the Taj corridor stink is partly responsible for this fresh round of political crisis in the state. It might be, but the larger reason is pure self-preservation

 
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

-- UTTAR Pradesh (UP) chief minister Mayawati has resigned. She's ended, as a newspaper put it, her "third honeymoon" with the Bharatiya Janata Party, a coalition partner. It is being said the Taj corridor stink (see: "Sold down the river", July 31, 2003) is partly responsible for this fresh round of political crisis in the state. It might be, but the larger reason is pure self-preservation. Political formations in Uttar Pradesh like to implode upon each other; this is how governance perpetuates itself here. Once again, as leaders herd supporters into hotel rooms -- promising money, portfolios -- governance's divorce from reality seems complete.

That reality is quite frightening. An "Uttar Pradesh State of Environment Report" is being prepared. According to the report, less than 10 per cent of people in rural areas have sanitary latrines. While 55 percent of people living in urban slums in India have to do without sanitary facilities, the figure for UP is a horrendous 72 per cent. The consequence is water pollution: diarrhoea alone accounts for 52 per cent of the disability adjusted life years -- DALY, a measure of human-power wasted due to illness -- attributable to water pollution (see: Lost Case?). Other indicators, such as the state of indoor and outdoor air pollution, are equally negative. There seems no doubt that UP has slipped into an environmental morass.

Ironically, the report was undertaken initially by the World Bank as "a major program of support to the government" in helping it reduce poverty, and so providing it tools of environmental management. The Bank has backed out. Probably it couldn't find a government to provide support to, or one interested in improving people's lives. Now the ministry of environment and forests has taken up the task of turning this report into an Action Plan. The ministry's courage and commitment must be applauded. It is not known when the Plan will see the light of day. But suppose, one day, it does. Will there be a government to hand the Action Plan over to? Will there be a government that will consider it worthy to act upon such a plan? Are UP's politicians interested in managing the state's environment?

These questions cannot be answered right now. Right now, UP's politicians are chaotically busy. They are completely involved in only managing themselves.

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